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The Dawn of Language

The story of how we came to talk

Sverker Johansson Frank Perry

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Maclehose Press
01 September 2021
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A model of popular-science writing STEVEN POOLE Who was the first speaker and what was their first message?

An erudite, tightly woven and beautifully written account of one of humanity's greatest mysteries - the origins of language.

Drawing on evidence from many fields, including archaeology, anthropology, neurology and linguistics, Sverker Johansson weaves these disparate threads together to show how our human ancestors evolved into language users. The Dawn of Language provides a fascinating survey of how grammar came into being and the differences or similarities between languages spoken around the world, before exploring how language eventually emerged in the very remote human past.

Our intellectual and physiological changes through the process of evolution both have a bearing on our ability to acquire language. But to what extent is the evolution of language dependent on genes, or on environment? How has language evolved further, and how is it changing now, in the process of globalisation? And which aspects of language ensure that robots are not yet intelligent enough to reconstruct how language has evolved?

Johansson's far-reaching, authoritative and research-based approach to language is brought to life through dozens of astonishing examples, both human and animal, in a fascinatingly erudite and entertaining volume for anyone who has ever contemplated not just why we speak the way we do, but why we speak at all.

Translated from the Swedish by Frank Perry
By:   Sverker Johansson
Translated by:   Frank Perry
Imprint:   Maclehose Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 232mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 32mm
Weight:   540g
ISBN:   9781529411409
ISBN 10:   1529411408
Pages:   432
Publication Date:   01 September 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

SVERKER JOHANSSON, Doctor of Philosophy in Physics and Master of Philosophy in Linguistics, was born 1961 in Lund in the southern parts of Sweden. He is a senior advisor at Dalarna University, has conducted research at CERN in Switzerland and participated in EVOLANG, the leading international conference for research on the origins and evolution of language, since 2006. Through a bot that he programmed, Lsjbot, Johansson is behind an estimated 8% of all articles on Swedish Wikipedia, covering everything from fungi to municipalities in the Philippines.

Reviews for The Dawn of Language: The story of how we came to talk

Popular science of the highest order. All the necessary ingredients are there: a well-read author, an educational mindset and good, fluent prose. * Svenska Dagbladet * A formidable educational journey . . . This is the book the linguists have needed for so long. * Expressen * Johansson writes with enthusiasm and a desire to impart his knowledge . . . The delight is contagious. * Spraktidningen * A fascinating overview of human language * Smalandsposten * An elegant intellectual thriller . . . A model of popular-science writing in its imperturbable, reasonable weighing of competing ideas . . . [A] fascinating story in its own right -- Steven Poole * Guardian *

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