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The Evolutionary Emergence of LanguageEvidence and Inference$
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Rudolf Botha and Martin Everaert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199654840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199654840.001.0001

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The archaeology of number concept and its implications for the evolution of language

The archaeology of number concept and its implications for the evolution of language

(p.118) 7 The archaeology of number concept and its implications for the evolution of language
The Evolutionary Emergence of Language

Thomas Wynn

Frederick L. Coolidge

Karenleigh A. Overmann

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the evolution of number concept, via the ability to conceive of and use other representations of quantity. It approaches the evolution of number concept via the development of the concept in children. It finds that the child's acquisition of the concept leans heavily on the language scaffold of labelling. It considers the notion that the key in the child's construction of the number concept is the memorized set of words that constitutes the numeral list. This, in turn, raises the possibility that the presence of number concept might correlate with, and consequently be evidence for, the presence of language, provided that the presence of number in deep prehistory could be documented. It is possible that the evolutionary development of an integer concept may differ from its development in children. Hence, the chapter turns to the ethnographic and archaeological records for evidence about its evolutionary development.

Keywords:   number concept, language evolution, integer concept, language acquisition, ethnographic evidence, archaeological records

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