33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Interesting development in language theory,
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This review is from: Adam's Tongue: How Humans Made Language, How Language Made Humans (Hardcover)
My interest is philosophy, and philosophy is about what we can know about anything (condensed definition). So when I read the subtitle "How humans made language, How language made humans" my interest was peaked. Most how-did-language-begin books delve into genes (this one does a bit), how the human brain is so much bigger (so does this one), how our hands are different (yes, here too a bit), but most seem to take the approach that a being either has language or it doesn't. The fact that all the known languages (living and dead) are fully developed and capable of expressing everything needed - emotionally, spiritually, how to live, provide food and shelter, socially, etc. - for that society (sometimes lack of vocabulary in a society may make it difficult to express something about another society) and that there aren't any "primitive" languages (grunts and groans) would seem to back that thesis, but Adam's Tongue develops - quite powerfully for me - the thesis that language and humanity develop together, and indeed cannot develop apart. There's a "niche" into which humanity goes and in that niche both grow into what exists today - a species that is self-aware, able to reflect on the past and plan for the future, able to contemplate what may exist outside of its immediate area of existence because of language, and because of language that species is human. The end of the book is I think IMHO a little abrupt; a very interesting thought experiment projecting to the future is briefly introduced and then left hanging - a pity! I have taken that thought experiment myself to its conclusion but I would have appreciated Derek Bicketon's own conclusion.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 7, 2009 11:28:13 AM PST
Joseph T. Oettinger says:
Good, helpful review. Just one correction: The word you wanted was piqued, not peaked.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2011 1:16:36 PM PST
I snickered when I saw your comment, because the same thing jarred my eye when i read this thoughtful review.
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