1. The prehistory of a very special ape ; 2. Nature, nurture, and language ; 3. How trusted talk started ; 4. Concepts before language ; 5. We began to speak, and hear differently ; 6. Coining words ; 7. Building powerful grammar engines ; 8. Pronunciation gets complex
James R. Hurford is Emeritus Professor at the University of Edinburgh, where he was previously Professor of General Linguistics from 1979 until his retirement in 2009. Over the last 25 years he has pioneered the rebirth of serious scientific interest in the origins and evolution of language. He co-founded with Chris Knight the biennial international conferences on the evolution of language (known as EVOLANG), with Simon Kirby the Language Evolution and Computation Research Unit at the University of Edinburgh, and with Kathleen Gibson the OUP series on language evolution. His previous publications include The Origins of Meaning (OUP 2007) and The Origins of Grammar (OUP 2011).
This short guide to modern empirical research on language evolution provides a breezy and readable introduction to the many issues involved in understanding how humans came to possess one of our most prized capacities: our ability to acquire and use language. * Tecumseh Fitch, University of Vienna *