The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language

by Christine Kenneally | Nonfiction | This book has not been rated.
ISBN: 0143113747 Global Overview for this book
Registered by futurecat of Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on 4/21/2011
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by futurecat from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Thursday, April 21, 2011
Skyring took me to the amazing City Lights bookshop in San Francisco, and I couldn't resist buying a couple of books.

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Journal Entry 2 by futurecat at Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Monday, May 23, 2011
A fascinating summary of the current state of knowledge about how and why human language evolved, and the debate between the Chomskian idea of an innate "language organ" unique to humans, and the newly emerging theories that language may actually be an emergent system arising out of many different cognitive components, many of which we share with other species.

There's also quite an interesting thread running through the book about the overwhelming influence Chomsky has had on all areas of linguistics, not just in his own field of syntax - the tendency of linguists to take his words as gospel has stifled research into animal language and language evolution for decades (in fact, I remember my first year linguistics textbook had a short paragraph on animal language, which very briefly outlined some of the ape sign language experiments, but concluded along the lines of "Chomsky says what they're doing isn't real language, so that means it isn't." - and that was it for animal language, as far as the authors were concerned.)

In my permanent collection.

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