Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 367(1597):1785--1801, 2012
Abstract The 'social complexity hypothesis' for communication posits that groups with complex social systems require more complex communicative systems to regulate interactions and relations among group members. Complex social systems, compared ...
Hominin cognitive evolution: identifying patterns and processes in the fossil and archaeological recorddoi.orgPDF
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 367(1599):2130--2140, 2012
Abstract As only limited insight into behaviour is available from the archaeological record, much of our understanding of historical changes in human cognition is restricted to identifying changes in brain size and architecture. Using both absolute and residual brain ...
The Oxford Handbook of Language Evolution, 2011
The social hypothesis for language origins is based on the claim that primates use social grooming to bond social groups, and the time available for grooming has an upper limit due to the demands of foraging and food processing. The grooming time is a linear function of group ...MORE ⇓
The social hypothesis for language origins is based on the claim that primates use social grooming to bond social groups, and the time available for grooming has an upper limit due to the demands of foraging and food processing. The grooming time is a linear function of group size in both primates and birds so it sets an upper limit to the size of community that can be integrated using the conventional primate mechanism. One of the researchers suggested that language represented a phase shift in communication that allowed this particular glass ceiling to be breached, making it possible for hominins to evolve significantly larger groups than those found among primates. Another researcher showed that the vocal repertoire of the chickadee becomes structurally more complex as group size increases. These findings suggest that the vocal repertoire can become more complex in order to provide a supplementary mechanism for social bonding. The correlation between brain size and group size in primates implies that the first stage of vocal complexity must have occurred with the appearance of the genus Homo around 2 million years ago. The putative demands of instruction in tool manufacture would imply that full-blown language would have evolved at this stage, whereas the social hypothesis requires only an extension of natural primate vocal communication with full grammatical language evolving later.
Why Only Humans Have Language
The Prehistory Of Language 2.0, 2009
Language is a problem from an evolutionary point of view: our efforts to explain its origins and distribution are inevitably confounded by the fact that only one species actually has it. I decline to debate the old chestnut about whether bees or whales have language, since I ...
Language, Music and Laughter in Evolutionary Perspective
Evolution of Communication Systems: A Comparative Approach, pages 257-274, 2004
Speech (and thus language) is unique to modern humans. The lack of comparative cases makes its origins and the selective forces favoring its evolution difficult to determine with any reliability. The result has been a plethora of rather speculative suggestions about the ...
The Origin and Subsequent Evolution of Language
Language Evolution: The States of the Art, 2003
Language has two remarkable properties. First, it allows us to communicate ideas with each other; second, languages evolve and diversify with a speed and facility that is quite unique within biological evolution. The first has been the focus of much of the research on ...
Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language
Harvard Univ Press, 1998
What a big brain we have for all the small talk we make. It's an evolutionary riddle that at long last makes sense in this intriguing book about what gossip has done for our talkative species. Psychologist Robin Dunbar looks at gossip as an instrument of social order and ...
Theory of mind and the evolution of language
Approaches to the Evolution of Language: Social and Cognitive Bases, 1998
Coevolution of neocortex size, group size and language in humansPDF
Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16(4):681-735, 1993
oup size is a function of relative neocortical volume in nonhuman primates. Extrapolation from this regression equation yields a predicted group size for modern humans very similar to that of certain hunter-gatherer and traditional horticulturalist societies. Groups of similar ...MORE ⇓
oup size is a function of relative neocortical volume in nonhuman primates. Extrapolation from this regression equation yields a predicted group size for modern humans very similar to that of certain hunter-gatherer and traditional horticulturalist societies. Groups of similar size are also found in other large-scale forms of contemporary and historical society. Among primates, the cohesion of groups is maintained by social grooming; the time devoted to social grooming is linearly related to group size among the Old World monkeys and apes. To maintain the stability of the large groups characteristic of humans by grooming alone would place intolerable demands on time budgets. It is suggested that (1) the evolution of large groups in the human lineage depended on the development of a more efficient method for time-sharing the processes of social bonding and that (2) language uniquely fulfills this requirement. Data on the size of conversational and other small interacting groups of humans are in line with the predictions for the relative efficiency of conversation compared to grooming as a bonding process. Analysis of a sample of human conversations shows that about 60% of time is spent gossiping about relationships and personal experiences. It is suggested that language evolved to allow individuals to learn about the behavioural characteristics of other group members more rapidly than is possible by direct observation alone.