Re: Evolution of Languge

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Mon Apr 15 2002 - 00:31:49 BST

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    From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    Subject: Re: Evolution of Languge
    Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002 16:31:49 -0700
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    >Hi All.
    >Have just read an interesting piece on the evolution of language.
    >Amy Perfors (2002)
    >Simulated Evolution of Language: a Review of the Field
    >Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation vol. 5, no. 2
    >For some one who is not a linguist I gave, to my mind, a reasonable
    >of language evolution, and the attempt to produce simulations of it.
    >In particular the question of the innateness of language was addressed,
    >along with communication and syntax. I haven't posted it as it is quite
    >It mentions meme once.
    Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were surrounded by
    people who did not speak a word of your language? It is at times like this
    that we appreciate our ability to communicate without language and can see
    the antecedents from which language came. We manage to get by with hand and
    facial gestures and making noises that carry no distinct meaning. We find
    ourselves acting out scenarios we can't express verbally -- pretending to
    put food in our mouths, making walking motions with our feet, pointing to
    where we intend to go, and so on.

    I think language developed as an adjunct to this kind of expression and
    gradually took over as we became more clever at imparting more meaning to
    our sounds and increased the number of them we could work with. I think
    such things as showing and telling stories about the hunt after it was over
    and everyone was sitting around the fire began long before there was much in
    the way of formal language. And it had tremendous survival value both as a
    way of telling people what to watch out for and helping other members learn
    successful hunting strategies and techniques. The tribe with the best
    collection of tools, both intellectual and physical, had the best chance to
    survive. They still do.


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