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The Evolution of Language: Towards Gestural Hypotheses

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Przemysław Żywiczyński and Sławomir Wacewicz

This book discusses the scope and development of the science of language evolution – a newly emergent field that investigates the origin of language. The book is addressed to audiences who are not professionally involved in science and presents the problems of language origins together with introductory information on such topics as the theory of evolution, elements of linguistic theory, the neural infrastructure of language or the signalling theory.

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The Evolution of Language: Towards Gestural Hypotheses is an English translation of the first Polish book devoted the problems of language evolution, published in 2015. This context bears on the character of the book and its content. The Evolution of Language was written for general audiences, who are not professionally involved in science, including the science of language evolution. Hence, it offers introductory information on topics such as the theory of evolution, the discussion of which serves to bring out the basics of evolutionary thinking, including popular misconceptions about evolution, and stays away from more technical and detailed issues (Chapter 2), elements of linguistic theory (e.g. definitions of language (3.3), universal grammar (3.1.2) or the neural infrastructure of language (4.3) or the signalling theory (5.1)). To further help the reader, we provide a glossary of technical terms at the end of the book. Another limitation of the book has to do with the fact that it was (and still is) the first book on the science of language evolution for the Polish reader who has not had access to the English literature on the subject: excellent introductions by Sverker Johansson (2005) and Tecumseh Fitch (2010) and other forms of secondary and tertiary literature on language evolution, such as a handbook of language evolution by Maggie Tallerman and Kathleen Gibson (2011) or James Hurford’s broad-scope monographs – The Origins of Meaning (2007) and The Origins of Grammar (2011). Hence, our presentation is for the most part confined to sketching an...

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