How Language Began: The Story of Humanity's Greatest Invention
How Language Began revolutionizes our understanding of the one tool that has allowed us to become the "lords of the planet."
Mankind has a distinct advantage over other terrestrial species: we talk to one another. But how did we acquire the most advanced form of communication on Earth? Daniel L. Everett, a “bombshell” linguist and “instant folk hero” (Tom Wolfe, Harper’s),...more
Yes, many scientists, including paleoanthropologists and the like would go butt heads with me on this one. See, it's their job making their research 'proof-based and scientific and on...'. Still, one has to be realistic about things, including the veracity and interpretation and pe ...more
Let's get that disappointment out the way first, as it's hardly the fault of Daniel Everett. This isn't really science (and so the title of the book is rather misleading, but I suppose 'One possibility for how language began' wouldn't be as punchy). It's hard to see how this could be science. Our ideas on the exact detail of homi ...more
The Author has a habit of making broad generalized claims without backing them up. For example he dismisses Wernicke's area and Broca's area as not functioning on language by simply saying "they don't" and then going on to a vague statement attributed to "several researchers ...".
He says "the brain does not appear to be organized into separate modules" without explaining ...more
Everett has a lot to say, that's of interest, about the history of human language, and makes an interesting, and to me persuasive, case that language goes back to Homo erectus, if not further. One thing he points to, hardly the only one, is the H. erectus population on the the island of Flores. They must at some point have arrived in numbers sufficient to establish a viable population, which would mean a minimum of fifty men, women, and children arriving together ...more
How Language Began by Daniel L. Everett
Controversial and revisionist are two words that came to my mind while reading this book.
I can't claim any deep specialty in this area but I've read a few books on the subject of linguistics and thought I was keeping abreast of the subject. I thought that Noam Chomsky was widely accepted as setting the benchmark for linguistic study and that the idea that language develope ...more
1. The author assumes the reader to know exactly nothing at all about evolution and so tells us all about evolutionary theory that we already know even though we came here to learn about language.
2. While it is overly simplistic, it is also too academic and seems to be citing everybody's work without actually saying anything.
3. I read the entire book and am still not sure what is new in here or even what the author thinks is new.
4. It needed some ...more
Anybody picking this book up would be forgiven for thinking that D.Everett was a 21st century prophet, with selected praise including "A book whose importance is almost impossible to overstate" and "Revelatory" ...more
How Language Began is an excellent exposition of the possible manner in which language originated. Many linguists believe that the explosion of symbolic art and other artifacts, traced to times between 40,000 and 100,000 years ago, signaled the rise of language. The author of How Language Began, Daniel Everett, contrary to this hypothesis, situates the origin of language some 2 million years earlier, in the time of Homo erectus.
He argues that Homo erectus had ...more
This book is essential in today’s linguistics where we are shifting away from Chomsky’s modern – in fact pre-postmodern – Universal Grammar’s innate theory of language though Chomsky does not choose between innate by creation (by God of course) or by genetic evolution (Darwin’s natural selection). The result is the same: by the decision of a supernatural being or by the natural selection of some genetic mutation, Homo Sapiens became lan ...more
When I heard that he was writing a book on the origin of language I was looking forward to it. I had my doubts though when I heard that he was actually writing two books at the same time.
And reading this book it does seem that he had just one main ambition, somehow filling 300 pages and making the deadline. What a pity.
Like other com ...more
And here's the thing, I spent the vast majority of this book trying to figure out exactly what this guy was arguing. At some points, I was pretty sure he just really ba ...more
Nie powinno być wątpliwości, iż język to najważniejszy wynalazek człowieka. Pojawienie się języka umożliwiło powstanie kolejnych wynalazków, narzędzi, sam ...more
The book begins with a discussion of the chemical origins of life in the Proterozoic, which struck me as overshoo ...more
The book discusses exactly what it says 'how language began'. It borrows scientific evidence and arguments from different fields such as anthropology, neuroscience, biology, sociology, psychology and so on. Starting at the biological level, the author narrates the common accounts of the biological conceptions of language (gene, the brain's areas for processing speech production ...etc.) What was intere ...more