From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Mon Mar 21 2005 - 16:19:25 PST

This book may be of interest to some.

P.S Sorry I'll miss AERA and the get together - roll on Seville

Title: Origins of Language : Constraints on hypotheses
Written By: Sverker Johansson (University of Jönköping)
Series Title: Converging Evidence in Language and Communication Research 5

Sverker Johansson has written an unusual book on language origins, with its emphasis on empirical evidence rather than theory-building. This is a book for the student or researcher who prefers solid data and well-supported conclusions over speculative scenarios. Much that has been written on the origins of language is characterized by hypothesizing largely unconstrained by evidence. But empirical data do exist, and the purpose of this book is to integrate and review the available evidence from all relevant disciplines, not only linguistics but also, e.g., neurology, primatology, paleoanthropology, and evolutionary biology. The evidence is then used to constrain the multitude of scenarios for language origins, demonstrating that many popular hypotheses are untenable. Among the issues covered: (1) Human evolutionary history, (2) Anatomical prerequisites for language, (3) Animal communication and ape "language", (4) Mind and language, (5) The role of gesture, (6) Innateness, (7) Selective advantage of language, (8) Proto-language.

Table of contents

Preface p.x

1. Introduction p. 1 2. What is language? p.5 3. The theory of evolution p.13 4. Human origins and evolution p.41 5. Anatomical and neurological prerequisites p.77 6. Animal communication in the wild p.119 7. Can nonhumans be taught language? p.129 8. Language, mind, and self p.143 9. Hypotheses of language origins 157 10. Why did language evolve? p.193 11. Protolanguage 12. Conclusions p.243

References p.248

Index p. 331

"Sverker Johansson offers us an impressive review of current theories on the origins of language, one of the most stimulating scientific debates of the nascent century. The book is clear, clever, exhaustive, and has the rare quality of being faithful to all the theories it describes. It is essential readings for all those who want to be part of the fascinating adventure of understanding the origins of humanity. This is a reference book, not only for students, but also for researchers in the field, and I will be digging frequently into this mine of knowledge." Jean-Louis Dessalles, ParisTech ENST

"Johansson's review of the existing theories of language evolution is excellent and provides a good introduction to the field. Even though he does not formulate a theory of his own, I find the constraints on theories of language evolution that he formulates very clear-headed and they should certainly serve as benchmarks for any researcher in the area." Peter Gärdenfors, Professor of Cognitive Science, Lund University, Sweden

"In total it is a valuable review - currently the most complete in its breadth and balance of any yet published - and I would consider using it in an upperdivision course." Terence Deacon

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