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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter is a selective comparative and critical survey of speculations/hypotheses, since Antiquity, on the phylogenetic emergence of language in mankind. It highlights topics and explanations that have been recurring, how some of them have been refined and/or enriched by modern thinking about hominin evolution since Charles Darwin’s account of the process by natural selection under specific ecological pressures. It also shows how some questions have been shaped by the manifold evolution of linguistics itself since the nineteenth century, including variation on what counts as language, and by intellectual exchanges between linguistics and other disciplines such as primatology, neurology, and paleontology. It concludes with an itemization of accomplishments, after articulating a long list of question-begging accounts and still unanswered questions.

Keywords: monogenesis, polygenesis, language organ, ecology/ecological pressure, (natural) selection, (communicative) technology

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