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Title: The Archaeological Evidence of Language Origins: States of Art
Contributor(s): Davidson, Iain (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2003
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Abstract: This chapter is principally about the archaeological evidence for the evolutionary emergence of language: how did human ancestors come to bridge the gap between humans and other animals? Over a long period of exploring the issues of language origins (Davidson and Noble 1989; Noble and Davidson 1996; 2001), Noble, a psychologist, and I, an archaeologist, have been seeking to build a mutually reinforcing argument with two main elements. One argument shows the importance of language-based interactions in defining the minded behaviour of people in our social interactions. In our view, language and mindedness are learned at our mother's breasts through interaction which involve joint attention between mother and infant. There is a burgeoning literature on the factors that affect such joint attention (eg Langton et al. 2000; see Tomasello, Chapter 6 above). Our second argument shows how the circumstances of joint attention arose from the evolutionary emergence of bipedalism and prolonged infant dependency, leading to changed circumstances for learning and transmission of knowledge. The anatomical circumstances of bipedalism and, to a lesser extent, prolonged infant dependency can be traced in the record of physical anthropology, and the products of learned behaviour can be studied through the archaeological record. Again, issues relating to the emergence of changes in life history of hominins have grown in prominence in the last few years (e.g. Alvarez 2000). Updating the evidence surrounding these arguments is beyond the scope of this chapter. Instead I will concentrate on the products of learned behaviour.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Language Evolution, p. 140-157
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Place of Publication: Oxford, UK
ISBN: 0199244847
Field of Research (FOR): 210199 Archaeology not elsewhere classified
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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