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Evolution of Communicative FlexibilityComplexity, Creativity, and Adaptability in Human and Animal Communication$
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D. Kimbrough Oller and Ulrike Griebel

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262151214

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262151214.001.0001

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Cognitive Precursors to Language

Cognitive Precursors to Language

(p.193) 9 Cognitive Precursors to Language
Evolution of Communicative Flexibility

Brian MacWhinney

The MIT Press

This chapter reviews the origins of language by appealing to a “quartet of characteristics” deemed crucial to the hominin line’s special linguistic evolution: Bipedalism, manual dexterity, neoteny, and social bonding. It proposes that a platform for language evolution was created by the quartet, outlines steps which may have occurred, and analyzes how the ongoing quartet of human characteristics shaped the aspects of human cognition. The chapter suggests that human language evolved gradually within a unique context which included bipedalism, manual dexterity, neoteny, and social bonding. It shows that the features of cortical control, lexical mapping, recursion, and perspective marking constitute the cognitive underpinnings for human language.

Keywords:   human language, bipedalism, manual dexterity, neoteny, social bonding, quartet of characteristics, human cognition, cortical control, lexical mapping, recursion

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