- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press (October 5, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691116733
- ISBN-13: 978-0691116730
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,543,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From Hand to Mouth: The Origins of Language
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"Provocative. . . . The gestural theory makes for a captivating story."--Emily Eakin, New York Times
"From Hand to Mouth is informative and entertaining. . . . [It] will raise awareness about the importance of gestures and the crucial role they play in communicative interactions."--Dario Maestripieri, American Scientist
"Corballis makes the case that the evolutionary origins of language are in gestures rather than in speech.. . . An engaging story."--Choice
"An engaging, highly readable and provocative account of the evolution of human language. . . . In short, this is an important book on an important topic. . . . From Hand to Mouth should be studied by everyone with a serious interest in the origins of language and read by others who want an evolutionary account that is as entertaining as it is informative."--Joseph B. Hellige, Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
From the Inside Flap
"A lively and well constructed read that bravely tackles head-on the tough question of where language came from. Corballis intriguingly concludes that this unique human property has gestural rather than vocal origins; and along the way he explores numerous fascinating byways that make this a must read for everyone interested in how humans became the extraordinary creatures they are."--Ian Tattersall, American Museum of Natural History, author of Extinct Humans and The Fossil Trail
"Michael Corballis has accomplished a Herculean task. Reviewing and synthesizing data from a range of disciplines, he has woven it all into a book that is at once enjoyable and easy to read and yet faithful to the complexity of the subject matter. While this is admittedly a provocative work, the author has marshaled considerable evidence in support of his thesis. Indeed, he has done all of us a great service by raising the level of discussion surrounding this controversial topic. This is no small accomplishment."--Sherman Wilcox, University of New Mexico, General Editor, Evolution of Communication
"A fascinating journey along the evolutionary path that 'converted us from wild gesticulators to smooth talkers.' On the path we pass our ape-like ancestors, the change to bipedalism, increase in brain size, gestures, the anatomical requirements for vocalization, and finally the spoken language."--Lewis Wolpert, University College London --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I create and maintain educational websites, Midwest Independent Research. I have a website on anthropology, mwir-anthropology.blogspot com and one on evolution science, mwir-evolutionscience.blogspot com.
However, recent evidence may undermine (or significantly alter) the socialization/culture theory. The discovery of the FOXP2 gene, which seems to control the articulation of words and grammar, may have appeared in humans as far back as 2.5 to 3 million years ago. (Interestingly, Neanderthals may also have possessed this mutation, meaning that they, too may have been capable of speech--adding fuel to the debate over how they died out). I believe this book was published before this discovery was revealed. Yet there may still be room for Corballis' theory and similar ideas, even with this new information. Perhaps the mutation gave us the potential, but maybe it took the pressures of survival coupled with the increased social interactions of people living in close proximity to fully trigger it. Of course, we haven't completely lost our manual tendencies; think about how much hand gestures factor into conversations.
His narrow focus--on European humans--limits the scope of his argument, ignoring both trans-European people and those still dwelling in Africa. The culture/socialization-as-language-catalyst is not a new argument, but what makes Corballis' approach unique is his incorporation of some unusual factors, such as lateralization and handedness (i.e. left or right, and his ideas about the origin of left-handedness are quite interesting). His writing style, full of sharp, dry wit, clever analogies, and innumerable references from related fields (such as neurology and linguistics) makes his approach more engaging that similar accounts I've read, and although he sometimes covers familiar ground, he does so with energy and enthusiasm. There's as much of interest here for the anthropologist as for the linguist.
James L. Franklin, M.D.