The evolution of language

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How language evolved is one of the most debated subjects in science. Starting with Darwinian ideas of natural selection, scholars interested in the evolution of language have been polarized into two main camps, those who propose the faculty of language is a uniquely human trait, and those who claim that language arose from pre-existing systems of animal communication. This chapter discusses some important contributions to the question of language evolution, including studies of the physical and cognitive evolution of modern humans, the relationship between social complexity and brain size, the gestural theory of language, theory of mind, and the use of molecular genetics to identify putative language genes, concluding with the analysis of the FOXP2 gene in the Neanderthals.


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