George W. Grace
University of Hawaii
Reflections on the evolution of human language
I invented the heading “Reflections” with the idea that I’d use it for casual pieces, probably mostly very short, on a wide variety of topics. Instead, what’s happened so far is that I’m producing a series on ideas about how language might have evolved.
I’d already been trying for a long time to imagine some of the factors that might have been involved in that evolution. The main motive for this interest is that I see a strong link between the two questions: what is language actually like? and How did it come to be that way? An answer to either throws light on the other. To the extent that the initial answer is right, the light it casts will be helpful; to the extent that it’s wrong, it will be misleading. Since I believe that our received conception of what language actually is like is significantly wrong, I’ve tried to keep my speculations about the origins fairly independent of it.
The ones I have completed so far can be accessed using the following links:
1. Robin Dunbar's Social Bonding Hypothesis
2. The Emergence of Analytic Processing:
-----1. A Role for Phonaesthesia?
-----2. A Role for Blends?
-----3. A Role for "Meaningless Morphemes"?
-----4. Summary of Suggestions toward a Hypothesis
3. A “Swiss-Army-Knife” Conception of Early Language Evolution
4. On the Evolution of Subject Matter
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First put on the Web on 5 November 2005
Revised 18 March 2008