Topoi 37 (2):297-305 (2018)

Abstract
One view of language is that it emerged in a single step in Homo sapiens, and depended on a radical transformation of human thought, involving symbolic representations and computational rules for combining them. I argue instead that language should be viewed as a communication system for the sharing of thoughts, and that thought processes themselves evolved well before the capacity to share them. One property often considered unique to language is generativity—the capacity to generate a potentially infinite variety of sentences. I suggest that generativity is derived from the understanding of space and the capacity to recall or construct spatiotemporal scenarios, and probably goes far back in the evolution of animals that move in spatial habitats. Another property essential to language is theory of mind, the ability to understand what others are thinking, which probably emerged from animal empathy and became more complex in hominin evolution. Language evolved for the sharing of experiences, whether remembered or constructed, perhaps initially through pantomime but gradually conventionalized into standardized forms, including speech. These developments probably took place gradually during the Pleistocene, rather than as a sudden event in the evolution of H. sapiens.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s11245-016-9418-8
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,172
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Studies in the Way of Words.Herbert Paul Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Does the Chimpanzee Have a Theory of Mind?David Premack & G. Woodruff - 1978 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4 (4):515-629.
Natural Language and Natural Selection.Steven Pinker & Paul Bloom - 1990 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (4):707-27.

View all 30 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Pantomime and Imitation in Great Apes.Anne E. Russon - 2018 - Interaction Studies. Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systemsinteraction Studies / Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systemsinteraction Studies 19 (1-2):200-215.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Human Language: Are Nonhuman Precursors Lacking?Marc D. Hauser & Nathan D. Wolfea - 1995 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 18 (1):190-191.
Language Evolution: Body of Evidence?Chen Yu & Dana H. Ballard - 2005 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (2):148-149.
Descartes's Language Test and Ape Language Research.Howard Sankey - 2010 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 29 (2):111-123.
Language as a Cognitive Tool.Marco Mirolli & Domenico Parisi - 2009 - Minds and Machines 19 (4):517-528.
What Knowledge Must Be in the Head in Order to Acquire Language.William P. Bechtel - 1996 - In B. Velichkovsky & Duane M. Rumbaugh (eds.), Communicating Meaning: The Evolution and Development of Language. Hillsdale, Nj: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 45.
Imitation Systems, Monkey Vocalization, and the Human Language.Emmanuel Gilissen - 2005 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (2):133-134.
How Language Programs the Mind.Gary Lupyan & Benjamin Bergen - 2016 - Topics in Cognitive Science 8 (1):408-424.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2016-08-01

Total views
21 ( #536,930 of 2,517,879 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #409,482 of 2,517,879 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes