Language Evolution and Computation Bibliography

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The Directed Scratch: Evidence for a Referential Gesture in Chimpanzees?
The Prehistory Of Language 9, 2009
Recent genetic evidence suggests that some of the key capacities for normal speech production might have developed in our hominid ancestors probably as little as 200,000 years ago (eg Davidson 2003; Enard et al. 2002). Many of the neural, anatomical, and ...
Introduction: Rewards and Challenges of Multi-perspectival Work on the Evolution of Language and Speech
The Prehistory Of Language 1, 2009
Music as a Communicative Medium
The Prehistory Of Language 5, 2009
Like language, music appears to be a universal human capacity; all cultures of which we have knowledge engage in something which, from a western perspective, seems to be music (Blacking 1995), and all members of each culture are expected to be able to ...
Playing With Meaning: Normative Function and Structure in Play
The Prehistory Of Language 7, 2009
Why Women Speak Better Than Men and its Significance for EvolutionPDF
The Prehistory Of Language 14, 2009
In order to make distinctive speech sounds, it is necessary to control two separate acoustic cavities. There has been a longstanding debate about whether a lowered larynx is essential for this. Lieberman and Crelin have used it as an argument against speech in Neanderthals. This ...MORE ⇓
In order to make distinctive speech sounds, it is necessary to control two separate acoustic cavities. There has been a longstanding debate about whether a lowered larynx is essential for this. Lieberman and Crelin have used it as an argument against speech in Neanderthals. This claim is controversial, not only for paleontological reasons, but also because researchers do not agree on the need of a lowered larynx for distinctive speech. Researchers using similar methods (computer modeling) arrive at opposite conclusions. The problem is that one needs to take articulatory and anatomical constraints into account when investigating the acoustic implications of vocal tract morphology.

In order to study what the effect of lowering the larynx is, a reimplementation of Mermelstein s vocal tract model has been made. This is a computer model of the geometry of the (human male) vocal tract, whose controls correspond to the actions of the muscles involved in speech. This model was used to explore the possible articulations and the corresponding acoustic signals of different vocal tract geometries.

Experiments were run with the original male model, a model of the female vocal tract and a model that is a combination of these two tracts. It was also found that the female vocal tract is better than the male one. This observation was confirmed by a reanalysis of the data from the Peterson and Barney study. This establishes an evolutionary advantage of a vocal tract that has a pharyngeal and oral cavity of equal length (as in the female tract). It has a larger signaling space than the male tract. Males probably had evolutionary advantage from size exaggeration, as proposed by Fitch. It must be noted however, that the differences found so far are significant but small.

Why Only Humans Have Language
The Prehistory Of Language 2, 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 ...
Holistic Communication and the Co-evolution of Language and Music: Resurrecting an Old Idea
The Prehistory Of Language 4, 2009
In his 1895 book, Progress in Language, Otto Jespersen, one of the greatest language scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, proposed that “language began with half-musical analysed expressions for individual beings and events”(Jespersen 1983 [1895]: ...
Is Sociality a Crucial Prerequisite for the Emergence of Language?
The Prehistory Of Language 3, 2009
Research into the origins of language can either be carried out from an empirical or from a theoretical angle. From an empirical angle one seeks data about early symbolic culture and about precursors of language-like communication or complex meaning in animals. Many ...
The Ontogeny and Phylogeny of Non-verbal Deixis
The Prehistory Of Language 8, 2009
It is widely reported that our nearest living relatives, the great apes, lack a “declarative” mode of communication. There are few reports of any ape, regardless of rearing history, explicitly informing another about a state of the world as an apparent end in itself; see eg ...
Language-symbolization and Beyond
The Prehistory Of Language 11, 2009
The study of genesis and evolution of language is one of the most intriguing and challenging endeavors we have recently embarked on, since it touches on the foundations of our humanity. Understanding the issue requires intensive interdisciplinary collaboration ...
Mosaic Neurobiology and Anatomical Plausibility
The Prehistory Of Language 15, 2009
Language is a species characteristic of humans. This species-specific feature is biologically based, requiring a particularly human neuroanatomy due, ultimately, to a particularly human genetic endowment and its expression. Yet, no non-human, not even our closest primate ...
Recursion, Phonological Storage Capacity, and the Evolution of Modern Speech
The Prehistory Of Language 13, 2009
It has been proposed that the faculty of language in the narrow sense (FLN) generates internal representations and maps them into instructions to a sensory-motor system by a phonological interface and into instructions to an interpretation system by a semantic ...
The Origins of the Lexicon: How a Word-store Evolved
The Prehistory Of Language 10, 2009
The human mental lexicon is the repository of many tens of thousands of distinct vocabulary items, and of stored information about their word classes and their selectional and subcategorization requirements. Even in its simplest form—before the syntactic capacity ...
Cultural Niche construction: Evolution's Cradle of Language
The Prehistory Of Language 6, 2009
Standard evolutionary theory is highly successful, based as it is on solid mathematical foundations and a rich empirical tradition, constantly renewed by exchanges of hypotheses and data among diverse researchers. Yet, despite its successes, it does not provide a ...
Grammaticalization From a Biolinguistic Perspective
The Prehistory Of Language 12, 2009
Estimates about the origin of modern human language range from 50,000 to 150,000 years ago. These estimates are based on archeological findings, the presence of tools and beads in eg the Blombos cave at 70,000 years ago, and mutations in a gene connected to ...