After Forbes & Crowder 1979
Articles on Language Origins
Sources that explore the possible origins of speech and language in a thoughtful manner

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ARTICLE: "Archaeology and the Origins of Speech"
Website of Article (currently inactive): ~ms44278/speech.htm
Author: Mike Shupp, Anthropology Dept., California State University, Northridge
Email: Mike Shupp

"It is reasonable to assume some quantum of language and anticipation of the future existed before Paleolithic artists began to spit ocher upon cave walls, but did they employ a past tense? Did hominids tell stories before or after they learned to gather around a fire? Or was modern speech inherent in the flakes struck from an Oldowan cobble?

"We've not the slightest idea. And to add insult to the injury, the people who might be expected to be most involved in answering such questions, professional linguists, have been determinedly non-helpful. In part, this is history-- the decision of the Linguistic Society of Paris in 1866 to ban discussion of the origins of language is often cited..."

ARTICLE: "The origin of phonetic abilities: A study of the comparative data with reference to the aquatic theory"
Website of Article:

Authors: Marc Verhaegen & Stephen Munro
Email: Marc Verhaegen

EXCERPT: "Most researchers agree that our remote primate ancestors lived in trees.
A number of different hypotheses, however, have been put forward to explain the latter part of our evolutionary history. Recently, there has been a steady accumulation of evidence suggesting that human evolution may not have started in a warm and dry milieu, as the savanna theory used to assert. Instead, the anatomical, physiological, biochemical and palaeo-environmental data suggest that humans may have evolved in warm and wet conditions, perhaps at the edge between land and water (Hardy 1960, Morgan 1997, Bender et al. 1997, Verhaegen 1997, Tobias 1998). More specifically, at the recent symposium on Water and Human Evolution (Ghent, Belgium, 1999), it was proposed that our ancestors may have been coastal or riverside omnivores, which not only consumed terrestrial plants and animals but also collected part of their food in the water. That means their lifestyle may have included wading and even diving for shellfish, seaweeds, crustaceans and fish."

BOOK: "Origins of Complex Language: An Inquiry into the Evolutionary Beginnings of Sentences, Syllables and Truth" by Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy From The Publisher:
This book proposes a new theory of the origins of human language ability and presents an original account of the early evolution of language. It explains why humans are the only language-using animals, challenges the assumption that language is a consequence of intelligence, and offers a new perspective on human uniqueness.

The author draws on evidence from archaeology, linguistics, brain neurology, primate communication, and evolutionary biology. The Origins of Complex Language fulfils the promise of its title. In doing so, it turns upside-down conventional theories about the relation between cognition and expression, truth and reference, and the co-evolution of mind and body.

ONLINE MAGAZINE: Search Linguist Magazine for any articles

This is a beautifully-constructed web tool, yielding full-text communications written by people in the field of linguistics who are profoundly interested in their topics, especially language origins. Searching "language origin" yielded (among others):

Jacques Guy: Ruhlen's "On the Origin of Languages".

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Array: The pattern of meanings, displayed in organized form, derived by studying completely the occurrence of words beginning with one root sound

Meaning (group): In this form of study, a single concept, shared by many language groups, deriving from a common experience, and comprising a minumum of 3 separate dictionary entries from as many languages of words beginning with the same root sound, in this case, the sound of K+vowel+N (but in reality many more dictionary entries invariably comprise a Meaning)

Cluster: In this study, a Cluster is a "noble" and non-etymologically linked group of Meanings that derives from an individual attribute of the original experience that gave rise to the whole Array

Speech: Homo sapiens' verbal communication, using the invariably-ordered short sequences of mouth sounds that we call "words" in full grammatical context, capable of instantly relaying immediately decipherable commands to skillfully employ technological devices

Language: Verbal and other forms of communication that may have been used by the whole line of hominid ancestors, possibly extending to other species as well; functions as expression that modifies behavior, but not necessarily immediately, and not necessarily using technological objects or skills

Phoneme: a small unit of speech; one distinct speech sound

Morpheme: the smallest unit of speech that carries meaning

Ramapithecus: Ancestors of Australopithecus; transitional hominid developing during the drying of the earth's great jungles, dating from roughly 14 million years ago

Australopithecus: Tool-making ancestors of man, dating from about 3 million years ago

Homo habilis: Transitional between Australopithecus and Homo erectus; from Olduvai Bed 1

Homo erectus: Larger than Australopithecus, directly ancestral to Modern Man; dating from about 1 million years ago; developed firemaking half a million years ago, at which time he also acquired heightened tongue capability ours (evidenced by the size of the hole that the nerve to the tongue makes in the skull)

Homo sapiens: Modern man, emerging inexplicably all of a sudden the world over starting roughly 100,000 years ago; identical to us, with same language capability, vocal column, chin, and brain size and organization

Neanderthalers: diverged from and co-existed with Modern Man; became more and more "Neanderthal-like" as time went on; had extremely dense bones, heavy eyebrow ridge, large perfectly circular eye sockets, enlarged visual part of the brain, and no "chin"; doubtful that he had identical language capability to ours; very uniform type lived near polar ice caps; varied types lived farther south; died out roughly 30,000 years ago

Evolution: the slow change in living forms over time, due to changing environmental conditions

Environmental niche: a given set of circumstances in the environment that a life-form uses to make a living in; e.g., sandy desert, under bushes, at night, with oil-bearing seeds plentiful; given the same identical environmental niche, species tend to evolve similarly

Convergent evolution: when two or more species evolve into similar-functioning and appearing forms, due to occupying the same environmental niche

Divergent evolution: when a species begins to evolve into several different forms as it spreads out into new environmental niches

Parallel evolution: when similar species continue to exist side by side without much change, neither one exterminating the other

Mother Tongue: the one language shared by Homo sapiens, ancestral to all modern languages; thought to have formed roughly 100,000 years ago (i.e., concurrently with the emergence of Homo sapiens)

Sound-Meaning Correspondence: the idea that the referent of a word stays attached to the unique sounds of that word over considerable time; currently believed not to last longer than 20,000 years, based on statistical studies

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