The Cognitive Semiotics of Cultural Evolution
Edited By David Dunér and Göran Sonesson
Gerd Carling - Chapter Three : Language: The Role of Culture and Environment in Proto-Vocabularies
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Language: The Role of Culture and Environment in Proto-Vocabularies
This chapter concerns vocabularies and how they relate to the evolutionary schema suggested by Merlin Donald. Typically, research on language evolution and vocabulary tends to focus on basic parts of vocabulary, i.e. lexemes for universal or near-universal lexical items, such as body parts, kinship terms, and lexemes for basic motions and sense perceptions. Language evolution and vocabulary unusually discusses the topic of lexemes for fundamental items of the environment, such as tools, which supposedly play an important role in language evolution, but which are too diverse in languages to be related or compared by means of language-universal basic vocabulary word lists, such as the Swadesh and Leipzig-Jakarta word lists (as explained in Section 3.3). Here, I argue that there is a demand for a more dynamic view on proto-vocabularies, including the analysis of cultural niche and environment, in order to trace the evolution of early language.
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