The Origins of Meaning (Oxford Studies in the Evolution of Language)

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9780199207855: The Origins of Meaning (Oxford Studies in the Evolution of Language)

In this, the first of two ground-breaking volumes on the nature of language in the light of the way it evolved, James Hurford looks at how the world first came to have a meaning in the minds of animals and how in humans this meaning eventually came to be expressed as language. He reviews a mass of evidence to show how close some animals, especially primates and more especially apes, are to the brink of human language. Apes may not talk to us but they construct rich cognitive representations of the world around them, and here, he shows, are the evolutionary seeds of abstract thought - the means of referring to objects, the memory of events, even elements of the propositional thinking philosophers have hitherto reserved for humans. What then, he asks, is the evolutionary path between the non-speaking minds of apes and our own speaking minds? Why don't apes communicate the richness of their thoughts to each other? Why do humans alone have a unique disposition to reveal their thoughts in complex detail? Professor Hurford searches a wide range of evidence for the answers to these central questions, including degrees of trust, the role of hormones, the ability to read minds, and the willingness to cooperate.

Expressing himself congenially in consistently colloquial language the author builds up a vivid picture of how mind, language, and meaning evolved over millions of years. His book is a landmark contribution to the understanding of linguistic and thinking processes, and the fullest account yet published of the evolution of language and communication.

"A wonderful read - lucid, informative, and entertaining, while at the same time never talking down to the reader by sacrificing argumentation for the sake of 'simplicity'. Likely to be heralded as the major publication dealing with language evolution to date. Frederick J. Newmeyer, University of Washington

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About the Author :


James R. Hurford is Professor of General Linguistics, University of Edinburgh. He is co-editor, with Kathleen Gibson, of OUP's Studies in Language Evolution, co-founder, with Simon Kirby, of the Language Evolution and Computation Research Unit at the University of Edinburgh, and co-founder, with Chris Knight, of the EVOLANG series of international conferences on the evolution of language. His books include The Linguistic Theory of Numerals (CUP, 1975), Language and Number: The Emergence of a Cognitive System (Blackwell, 1987), and Grammar: A Student's Guide (CUP 1994).

Review :


"This very readable and satisfying book is an examination of 'pre-linguistic animal concepts and social lives' which the author supposes 'take us to the brink of modern human language, when the species became for the first time language-ready' The argument, the evidence, and the style encourage the reader to give attention, read on, and look forward with interest to the promised continuation in the next volume. The wealth of studies presented and their informed, insightful, yet cautious interpretation provide probable insight into how and how readily language might have evolved out of animal prelanguage." --Linguist List


"This work is a head-spinning, fact-packed examination of how human language came to be, before language was language and humans were human. Drawing from philosophers, linguists, biologists, psychologists, and a range of other thinkers Hurford has constructed the beginning of a unique, interdisciplinary story of the development of language as we know it today. Hurford shows how constant research is closing that gap, a project to which he hopes to contribute in this work and a forthcoming second volume. This first volume has something that everyone will appreciate. Theorists will swim inthe thoughtful examinations of Wittgenstein and Frans de Waal. Scientists will no doubt learn from the plethora of scientific experiments explored throughout. And the thinkers of tomorrow will be introduced to the possibilities of scholarship when one looks beyond rigid disciplinary boundaries." --Science & Spirit


"A wonderful read lucid, informative, and entertaining, while at the same time never talking down to the reader by sacrificing argumentation for the sake of simplicity. Likely to be heralded as the major publication dealing with language evolution to date." --Frederick J. Newmeyer, University of Washington


Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

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Description du livre Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2011. Hardback. État : New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In this, the first of two ground-breaking volumes on the nature of language in the light of the way it evolved, James Hurford looks at how the world first came to have a meaning in the minds of animals and how in humans this meaning eventually came to be expressed as language. He reviews a mass of evidence to show how close some animals, especially primates and more especially apes, are to the brink of human language. Apes may not talk to us but they construct rich cognitive representations of the world around them, and here, he shows, are the evolutionary seeds of abstract thought - the means of referring to objects, the memory of events, even elements of the propositional thinking philosophers have hitherto reserved for humans. What then, he asks, is the evolutionary path between the non-speaking minds of apes and our own speaking minds? Why don t apes communicate the richness of their thoughts to each other? Why do humans alone have a unique disposition to reveal their thoughts in complex detail? Professor Hurford searches a wide range of evidence for the answers to these central questions, including degrees of trust, the role of hormones, the ability to read minds, and the willingness to cooperate. Expressing himself congenially in consistently colloquial language the author builds up a vivid picture of how mind, language, and meaning evolved over millions of years. His book is a landmark contribution to the understanding of linguistic and thinking processes, and the fullest account yet published of the evolution of language and communication. A wonderful read - lucid, informative, and entertaining, while at the same time never talking down to the reader by sacrificing argumentation for the sake of simplicity . Likely to be heralded as the major publication dealing with language evolution to date. Frederick J. Newmeyer, University of Washington. N° de réf. du libraire BTE9780199207855

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Description du livre Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2011. Hardback. État : New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.In this, the first of two ground-breaking volumes on the nature of language in the light of the way it evolved, James Hurford looks at how the world first came to have a meaning in the minds of animals and how in humans this meaning eventually came to be expressed as language. He reviews a mass of evidence to show how close some animals, especially primates and more especially apes, are to the brink of human language. Apes may not talk to us but they construct rich cognitive representations of the world around them, and here, he shows, are the evolutionary seeds of abstract thought - the means of referring to objects, the memory of events, even elements of the propositional thinking philosophers have hitherto reserved for humans. What then, he asks, is the evolutionary path between the non-speaking minds of apes and our own speaking minds? Why don t apes communicate the richness of their thoughts to each other? Why do humans alone have a unique disposition to reveal their thoughts in complex detail? Professor Hurford searches a wide range of evidence for the answers to these central questions, including degrees of trust, the role of hormones, the ability to read minds, and the willingness to cooperate. Expressing himself congenially in consistently colloquial language the author builds up a vivid picture of how mind, language, and meaning evolved over millions of years. His book is a landmark contribution to the understanding of linguistic and thinking processes, and the fullest account yet published of the evolution of language and communication. A wonderful read - lucid, informative, and entertaining, while at the same time never talking down to the reader by sacrificing argumentation for the sake of simplicity . Likely to be heralded as the major publication dealing with language evolution to date. Frederick J. Newmeyer, University of Washington. N° de réf. du libraire APC9780199207855

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Description du livre Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2011. Hardback. État : New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. In this, the first of two ground-breaking volumes on the nature of language in the light of the way it evolved, James Hurford looks at how the world first came to have a meaning in the minds of animals and how in humans this meaning eventually came to be expressed as language. He reviews a mass of evidence to show how close some animals, especially primates and more especially apes, are to the brink of human language. Apes may not talk to us but they construct rich cognitive representations of the world around them, and here, he shows, are the evolutionary seeds of abstract thought - the means of referring to objects, the memory of events, even elements of the propositional thinking philosophers have hitherto reserved for humans. What then, he asks, is the evolutionary path between the non-speaking minds of apes and our own speaking minds? Why don t apes communicate the richness of their thoughts to each other? Why do humans alone have a unique disposition to reveal their thoughts in complex detail? Professor Hurford searches a wide range of evidence for the answers to these central questions, including degrees of trust, the role of hormones, the ability to read minds, and the willingness to cooperate. Expressing himself congenially in consistently colloquial language the author builds up a vivid picture of how mind, language, and meaning evolved over millions of years. His book is a landmark contribution to the understanding of linguistic and thinking processes, and the fullest account yet published of the evolution of language and communication. A wonderful read - lucid, informative, and entertaining, while at the same time never talking down to the reader by sacrificing argumentation for the sake of simplicity . Likely to be heralded as the major publication dealing with language evolution to date. Frederick J. Newmeyer, University of Washington. N° de réf. du libraire APC9780199207855

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