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Speaking Our Minds

Author: Thom Scott-Phillips
Publisher: Macmillan International Higher Education
ISBN: 1137315636
Size: 33.12 MB
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Language is an essential part of what makes us human. Where did it come from? How did it develop into the complex system we know today? And what can an evolutionary perspective tell us about the nature of language and communication? Drawing on a range of disciplines including cognitive science, linguistics, anthropology and evolutionary biology, Speaking Our Minds explains how language evolved and why we are the only species to communicate in this way. Written by a rising star in the field, this groundbreaking book is required reading for anyone interested in understanding the origins and evolution of human communication and language.

Language Cognition And Computational Models

Author: Thierry Poibeau
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 110851572X
Size: 16.32 MB
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How do infants learn a language? Why and how do languages evolve? How do we understand a sentence? This book explores these questions using recent computational models that shed new light on issues related to language and cognition. The chapters in this collection propose original analyses of specific problems and develop computational models that have been tested and evaluated on real data. Featuring contributions from a diverse group of experts, this interdisciplinary book bridges the gap between natural language processing and cognitive sciences. It is divided into three sections, focusing respectively on models of neural and cognitive processing, data driven methods, and social issues in language evolution. This book will be useful to any researcher and advanced student interested in the analysis of the links between the brain and the language faculty.

New Work On Speech Acts

Author: Daniel Fogal
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0191059021
Size: 39.45 MB
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Speech-act theory is the interdisciplinary study of the wide range of things we do with words. Originally stemming from the influential work of twentieth-century philosophers, including J. L. Austin and John Searle, recent years have seen a resurgence of work on the topic. On one hand, a new generation of linguists, philosophers, and cognitive scientists have made impressive progress toward reverse-engineering the psychological underpinnings that allow us to do so much with language. Meanwhile, speech-act theory has been used to enrich our understanding of pressing social issues that include freedom of speech, racial slurs, and the duplicity of political discourse. This volume presents fourteen new essays by many of the philosophers and linguists who have led this resurgence. The topics span a methodological range that includes formal semantics and pragmatics, foundational issues about the nature of linguistic representation, and work on a variety of forms of indirect and/or uncooperative speech that occupies the intersection of the philosophy of language, ethics, and political philosophy. Several of the contributions demonstrate the benefits of integrating the methodologies and perspectives of these literatures. The essays are framed by a comprehensive introductory survey of the contemporary literature written by the editors.

The Truth About Language

Author: Michael C. Corballis
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022628722X
Size: 47.56 MB
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Evolutionary science has long viewed language as, basically, a fortunate accident—a crossing of wires that happened to be extraordinarily useful, setting humans apart from other animals and onto a trajectory that would see their brains (and the products of those brains) become increasingly complex. But as Michael C. Corballis shows in The Truth about Language, it’s time to reconsider those assumptions. Language, he argues, is not the product of some “big bang” 60,000 years ago, but rather the result of a typically slow process of evolution with roots in elements of grammatical language found much farther back in our evolutionary history. Language, Corballis explains, evolved as a way to share thoughts—and, crucially for human development, to connect our own “mental time travel,” our imagining of events and people that are not right in front of us, to that of other people. We share that ability with other animals, but it was the development of language that made it powerful: it led to our ability to imagine other perspectives, to imagine ourselves in the minds of others, a development that, by easing social interaction, proved to be an extraordinary evolutionary advantage. Even as his thesis challenges such giants as Chomsky and Stephen Jay Gould, Corballis writes accessibly and wittily, filling his account with unforgettable anecdotes and fascinating historical examples. The result is a book that’s perfect both for deep engagement and as brilliant fodder for that lightest of all forms of language, cocktail party chatter.

The Evolution Of Language

Author: W. Tecumseh Fitch
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 113948706X
Size: 62.86 MB
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Language, more than anything else, is what makes us human. It appears that no communication system of equivalent power exists elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Any normal human child will learn a language based on rather sparse data in the surrounding world, while even the brightest chimpanzee, exposed to the same environment, will not. Why not? How, and why, did language evolve in our species and not in others? Since Darwin's theory of evolution, questions about the origin of language have generated a rapidly-growing scientific literature, stretched across a number of disciplines, much of it directed at specialist audiences. The diversity of perspectives - from linguistics, anthropology, speech science, genetics, neuroscience and evolutionary biology - can be bewildering. Tecumseh Fitch cuts through this vast literature, bringing together its most important insights to explore one of the biggest unsolved puzzles of human history.

Harnessed

Author: Mark Changizi
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
ISBN: 1935618830
Size: 21.45 MB
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The scientific consensus is that our ability to understand human speech has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. After all, there are whole portions of the brain devoted to human speech. We learn to understand speech too quickly and with almost no training and can seamlessly absorb enormous amounts of information simply by hearing it. Surely we evolved this capability over thousands of generations. Or did we? Portions of the human brain are also devoted to reading. Children learn to read at a very young age and can seamlessly absorb information even more quickly through reading than through hearing. We know that we didn’t evolve to read because reading is only a few thousand years old. In "Harnessed," cognitive scientist Mark Changizi demonstrates that human speech has been very specifically “designed” to harness the sounds of nature, sounds we’ve evolved over millions of years to readily understand. Long before humans evolved, mammals have learned to interpret the sounds of nature to understand both threats and opportunities. Our speech—regardless of language—is very clearly based on the sounds of nature. Even more fascinating, Changizi shows that music itself is based on natural sounds. Music—seemingly one of the most human of inventions—is literally built on sounds and patterns of sound that have existed since the beginning of time.

Adam S Tongue

Author: Derek Bickerton
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 9780809022816
Size: 27.26 MB
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The renowned linguist author of Bastard Tongues presents a revisionist assessment of evolution that credits language as a key component in what separates humans from animals, in an account that explains how "power scavenging" forced early humans to break from previous communication systems and acquire new brain structures.

Grooming Gossip And The Evolution Of Language

Author: Robin Dunbar
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674363366
Size: 70.30 MB
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What a big brain we have for all the small talk we make. It's an evolutionary riddle that at long last makes sense in this intriguing book about what gossip has done for our talkative species. Psychologist Robin Dunbar looks at gossip as an instrument of social order and cohesion--much like the endless grooming with which our primate cousins tend to their social relationships. Apes and monkeys, humanity's closest kin, differ from other animals in the intensity of these relationships. All their grooming is not so much about hygiene as it is about cementing bonds, making friends, and influencing fellow primates. But for early humans, grooming as a way to social success posed a problem: given their large social groups of 150 or so, our earliest ancestors would have had to spend almost half their time grooming one another--an impossible burden. What Dunbar suggests--and his research, whether in the realm of primatology or in that of gossip, confirms--is that humans developed language to serve the same purpose, but far more efficiently. It seems there is nothing idle about chatter, which holds together a diverse, dynamic group--whether of hunter-gatherers, soldiers, or workmates. Anthropologists have long assumed that language developed in relationships among males during activities such as hunting. Dunbar's original and extremely interesting studies suggest otherwise: that language in fact evolved in response to our need to keep up to date with friends and family. We needed conversation to stay in touch, and we still need it in ways that will not be satisfied by teleconferencing, email, or any other communication technology. As Dunbar shows, the impersonal world of cyberspace will not fulfill our primordial need for face-to-face contact. From the nit-picking of chimpanzees to our chats at coffee break, from neuroscience to paleoanthropology, Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language offers a provocative view of what makes us human, what holds us together, and what sets us apart.

The Gap

Author: Thomas Suddendorf
Publisher: Basic Books
ISBN: 0465069843
Size: 54.57 MB
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There exists an undeniable chasm between the capacities of humans and those of animals, but what exactly is the difference between our minds and theirs? In The Gap, psychologist Thomas Suddendorf provides a definitive account of what makes human minds unique and how this disparity arose. He proposes that two innovations account for all of the ways in which our minds appear so distinct: our open-ended ability to imagine and reflect, and our insatiable drive to link our minds together. It is not language or morality that set us apart, but the ability to consider a range of scenarios, real and imagined, past and future. A provocative argument for reconsidering our place in nature, The Gap is essential reading for anyone interested in our evolutionary origins and our relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom.

Creating Language

Author: Morten H. Christiansen
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 026233478X
Size: 69.36 MB
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Language is a hallmark of the human species; the flexibility and unbounded expressivity of our linguistic abilities is unique in the biological world. In this book, Morten Christiansen and Nick Chater argue that to understand this astonishing phenomenon, we must consider how language is created: moment by moment, in the generation and understanding of individual utterances; year by year, as new language learners acquire language skills; and generation by generation, as languages change, split, and fuse through the processes of cultural evolution. Christiansen and Chater propose a revolutionary new framework for understanding the evolution, acquisition, and processing of language, offering an integrated theory of how language creation is intertwined across these multiple timescales.Christiansen and Chater argue that mainstream generative approaches to language do not provide compelling accounts of language evolution, acquisition, and processing. Their own account draws on important developments from across the language sciences, including statistical natural language processing, learnability theory, computational modeling, and psycholinguistic experiments with children and adults. Christiansen and Chater also consider some of the major implications of their theoretical approach for our understanding of how language works, offering alternative accounts of specific aspects of language, including the structure of the vocabulary, the importance of experience in language processing, and the nature of recursive linguistic structure.