The Evolution of Human Language

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Wolfgang Wildgen presents three perspectives on the evolution of language as a key element in the evolution of mankind in terms of the development of human symbol use. (1) He approaches this question by constructing possible scenarios in which mechanisms necessary for symbolic behavior could have developed, on the basis of the state of the art in evolutionary anthropology and genetics. (2) Non-linguistic symbolic behavior such as cave art is investigated as an important clue to the developmental background to the origin of language. Creativity and innovation and a population's ability to integrate individual experiments are considered with regard to historical examples of symbolic creativity in the visual arts and natural sciences. (3) Probable linguistic 'fossils' of such linguistic innovations are examined. The results of this study allow for new proposals for a 'protolanguage' and for a theory of language within a broader philosophical and semiotic framework, and raises interesting questions as to human consciousness, universal grammar, and linguistic methodology. (Series B)

Subjects: Consciousness research; Cognitive linguistics; Philosophy

  • Affiliations: 1: University of Bremen

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