Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on the inference that the Middle Stone Age (MSA) inhabitants of Blombos Cave had fully syntactic language. The Blombos inference is seen to use three consecutive inferential steps as, from data about a number of material objects, it draws a conclusion about a facet of language evolution. One of the steps inferred that the shells were beads worn by the humans who inhabited Blombos Cave some 75 kya. It was inferred from data and/or assumptions about properties of a number of MSA tick shells. The data and/or assumptions are about properties of forty-one shells of the scavenging gastropod Nassarius kraussianus. These properties of the shells include their age, their man-made perforations, their flattened facets, and their distribution in groups in the cave. Another step inferred that the humans were engaged in symbolic behavior, which was from data and/or assumptions about the beads. Another step inferred that the humans had fully syntactic language. It was inferred from data and/or assumptions about the symbolic behavior. The symbols-to-syntax inference needs to meet a number of fundamental conditions, including the one that is the warrantedness condition, which states that the inferential step leading to some conclusion about language evolution needs to be suitably warranted or licensed.

Keywords: warrantedness condition, Nassarius kraussianus, Blombos cave, language evolution, Middle Stone Age

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.