Adam's Tongue: How Humans Made Language, How Language Made Humans

Adam's Tongue: How Humans Made Language, How Language Made Humans

How language evolved has been called the hardest problem in science.

Taking cues from topics as diverse as the foraging strategies of ants, the distribution of large prehistoric herbivores, and the construction of ecological niches, Bickerton produces a dazzling new alternative to the conventional wisdom.Language is unique to humans, but it isnt the only thing that sets us apart from other speciesour cognitive powers are qualitatively different.

No, says Bickerton; he shows how the mere possession of symbolic unitswordsautomatically opened a new and different cognitive universe, one that yielded novel innovations ranging from barbed arrowheads to the Apollo spacecraft.Written in Bickertons lucid and irreverent style, this book is the first that thoroughly integrates the story of how language evolved with the story of how humans evolved.

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Bickerton has a lot on his mind, and there are chapters of value in this book. The final words of the last chapter is way outside Bickerton's expertise, and close to laughable (similar to when Dawkins takes the role of the anthropologist in The God Delusion).

So I was looking for more a plausible scenario for how language started than the other interesting points Mr. Bickerton proposed. 3) the idea that humans are like ants. This, like the first interesting thing, is probably not going to prove useful, but it's a thought-provoking idea.

Âdemin Dili, lisann nasl türediini ve bir kez türedikten sonra insan türünün yaayn nasl biçimlendirdiini kendine mesele edinmi deerli bir eser.

Bickerton argues that language (and all the incremental steps along the way that separated it from animal communication systems) was a particular set of skills and "tricks" that allowed early hominids to thrive in their niche, which the evidence indicates was one of "power scavenging." This form of scavening involves using tools to get at the carcasses of large herbivores before other scavengers can get to them, thus giving the pre-humans a competitive advantage in the food chain. Bickerton spends time discussing the communicative techniques of ants and bees and how they ultimately differ from the language that humans developed.

The first part of the book is a coherent survey of the current theories in the evolution of language among humans, and Bickerton is very careful in analyzing each of these to figure out whether they pass muster in an actual evolutionary framework.

This book takes its cue from some of the ideas in Bickerton's earlier books, Language and Species and his memoir/travelogue Bastard Tongues (a FUN read) to take another crack at "the hardest problem in science". Language and Species was sort of formative for me as it was one of the first linguistic books I read; so many new ideas, so clearly and compellingly argued.

I would like to see that book, and I am willing to bet it was written by Steven Pinker.

Apes and monkeys communicate with each other, but lack anything resembling true language; perhaps, says Bickerton, we should look at ants instead, as the Bible suggests.

Derek Bickerton (born March 25, 1926) was a linguist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

  • English

  • Humanities

  • Rating: 3.97
  • Pages: 286
  • Publish Date: March 17th 2009 by Hill and Wang
  • Isbn10: 0809022818
  • Isbn13: 9780809022816