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Language and Species

Language and Species
Author: Derek Bickerton
ISBN 13: 9780226046112
ISBN 10: 226046117
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press
Publication Date: 1992-04-15
Format: Paperback
Pages: 305
List Price: $30.00

Language and Species presents the most detailed and well-documented scenario to date of the origins of language. Drawing on "living linguistic fossils" such as "ape talk," the "two-word" stage of small children, and pidgin languages, and on recent discoveries in paleoanthropology, Bickerton shows how a primitive "protolanguage" could have offered Homo erectus a novel ecological niche. He goes on to demonstrate how this protolanguage could have developed into the languages we speak today.

"You are drawn into [Bickerton's] appreciation of the dominant role language plays not only in what we say, but in what we think and, therefore, what we are."—Robert Wright, New York Times Book Review

"The evolution of language is a fascinating topic, and Bickerton's Language and Species is the best introduction we have."—John C. Marshall, Nature


Bickerton (linguistics, U. of Hawaii) explores links between language and evolution. What results is a new understanding of how to account for the origins of language. And, from that understanding, insights into how and why we have succeeded--and failed--to shape our world and structure society, why we wage war and make peace. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)