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The Evolution of Language: Towards Gestural Hypotheses


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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Adamic language in religions which stem from Judaism, the language which Adam was supposed to have used in the garden of Eden.

adaptation (adaptive feature) a feature which results from the selection pressure and which increases the adaptation of an organism to its environment (i.e., one that increases the likelihood that it will survive and/or reproduce).

adaptationism a view which emphasises the role of natural selection in shaping phenotypes and which considers that a majority of features are adaptations which emerged via natural selection; its extreme version is called panadaptationism.

allele an “alternative version” of a gene. A gene has a certain place in a chromosome, called the locus. Thus, alleles are alternative versions of genes which occupy the same locus in a chromosome. Mutations cause new alleles to emerge.

allometry investigating the relation between the size of the body and its shape.

anthropogenesis the emergence of humans.

anti-essentialism in the theory of meaning, a view which states that words do not capture the essence of the objects to which they refer.

apes big primates that do not have a tail, mainly great apes – of which the extant species are the chimpanzee, the bonobo, the gorilla, and the orangutan – and humans.

arbitrariness a feature of most linguistic signs, which describes a lack of resemblance between the referent of a sign and its form.

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