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The Social Origins of Language - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Social Origins of Language

Daniel Dor, Chris Knight, and Jerome Lewis


Whereas Noam Chomsky views language as an internal faculty fitted to the requirements of private thought, this volume views it as designed essentially for communication between two or more speakers. In language, we formulate our thoughts for others and hence for ourselves. The system, in its diverse forms, resides and develops at the level of the community, and is acquired by individuals as part of their socialization. Focusing on language in its proper social context, we argue, allows for a new understanding of its origins, since it highlights the key role of social and cultural relationships ... More

Keywords: social context, protolanguage, evolutionarily stable strategies, evo-devo, niche construction, grammaticalization, communication technology, agent-based modelling, primate communication, reliable signals

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2014 Print ISBN-13: 9780199665327
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665327.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Daniel Dor, editor
Senior Lecturer in Communication, Tel Aviv University

Chris Knight, editor

Jerome Lewis, editor
University College London

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1 Introduction: a social perspective on how language began

Daniel DorChris Knight, Jerome Lewis

Part I Theoretical Foundations

Part II Language as a Collective Object

Part III Apes and People, Past and Present

Part IV Social Theories of Language Evolution

20 Why talk?

Jean-Louis Dessalles

Part V The Journey Thereafter