Evolution of Language. Language : Cultural Dynamics, Genetics Recent Attention, Gene-Culture theory Wang & Minnett. 2005. The invasion of language: emergence, change and death. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 20 :263. Evolution of Language.
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Language: Cultural Dynamics, Genetics
Recent Attention, Gene-Culture theory
Wang & Minnett. 2005. The invasion of language:
emergence, change and death. Trends in Ecology & Evolution20:263.
Language: Distinguishes humans from other animals? Important?
Language: 3 Elements (de Saussure)
Langage: Physical, Cognitive & Cultural (All)
Langue: Words, Grammar (Particular Culture)
Parole: Individual’s speech
How did language first arise?
How does innovation invade & spread?
How do languages compete for speakers
within & between populations?
How do languages go extinct?
Jones (1786): Sanskrit, Greek & Latin
Post-Darwin: Language phylogenies
Today: Single ancestral language, ‘proto-Sapiens’
160K YBP: First Modern Humans
50K YBP: ‘Cultural Explosion’
Innovations, painting, funerals
Language (presumably) preceded cultural growth
120K YBP: Human FOXP2 allele fixed
‘Grammar gene,’ apparently strong positive selection since human & chimp lineages split
Movements of mouth & face,
formation of linguistic syntax,
Fisher SE and Marcus GF (2005) The eloquent ape: genes, brains and the evolution of language
Nat Rev gene.7: 9–20 doi:10.1038/nri1747
(Gene) 120K YBP < time < 50K YBP (Culture)
Incremental Language ‘Strategies’
All Cultures Have Language
6000 Languages Today (many unwritten)
50 to 90 % Extinct by 2100 (?)
Socio-economic competition (cultural evolution)
English, Spanish Replace Native Languages
Competition between Languages for Speakers
Language Interaction Produces Bilingual Speakers
Bilingual Individual: “Drop” Language if not economically useful
One Monolingual Type Can Disappear
Origin & Maintenance of Language
Innovation (Invasion): Words, Languages
Growth, Decline Use; Language Extinction
Gene-Culture Evolutionary Ecology