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The Truth about Language


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About the Author

Michael C. Corballis is professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and the author of many books, including The Wandering Mind and A Very Short Tour of the Mind: 21 Short Walks around the Human Brain.


"In this wonderfully written book, distinguished scholar Michael Corballis interweaves arguments from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, paleontology, anthropology, genetics, primatology and linguistics to make a strong and timely statement: Chomsky's view of language as an innate capacity for internal thinking leaves the question of the evolutionary emergence of language in the realm of mystery. Conceptualizing language as a socially constructed tool for the communication of experience, coupled with the hypothesis--made famous in From Hand to Mouth and seriously updated here--that spoken language emerged from manual gesture, turns the mystery into a scientific question, and allows for an elegant, detailed and thought-provoking account of how our ancestors crossed the Rubicon of language."--Daniel Dor, author of The Instruction of Imagination
"The word 'truth' in the title implies that there are misperceptions to be corrected. These include those of Robert Berwick and Noam Chomsky who, in Why Only Us approach language and evolution with an undue emphasis on Merge and with no concern for mental time travel and the linkage of brain and hand whose importance is so engagingly emphasized by Corballis."--Michael Arbib, author of How the Brain Got Language

"Corballis writes with an academic's attention to detail in witty, self-deprecating prose. The combination of style and argument make The Truth about Language the best work yet on the gestural theory of language."

"Using a wealth of well-researched anecdotes about Neanderthals, cave paintings, gesturing apes, and well-trained border collies (to name a few), Corballis exemplifies moments of the human and animal minds fine-tuning their abilities to communicate. His journey into the written world is equally broad and insightful. . . . Exhilarating and illuminating. Corballis's deluge of well-organized facts and ideas are a thrill to read. . . . The truth about language is that there's still so much to learn. A fine, accessible introduction to a captivating, and still evolving, academic field."
--Kirkus Reviews
"Corballi's's book is recommended reading for everyone interested in
what language is and where it comes from. I also liked the puns from a wise, successful man looking back on his career and at the ways the world around him is evolving."--Laterality

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