TEXTS on LANGUAGE EVOLUTION


Michael Tomasello
The Cultural Origins of HUMAN COGNITION
...human beings evolved a new form of social cognition, which enabled some new forms of cultural learning, which enabled some new processes of sociogenesis and cumulative cultural evolution. This scenario solves our time problem because it posits one and only one biological adaptation - which could have happened at any time in human evolution, including quite recently. The cultural processes that this one adaptation unleashed did not then create new cognitive skills out of nothing, but rather they took existing individually based cognitive skills - such as those possessed by most primates for dealing with space, objects, tools, quantities, categories, social relationships, communication, and social learning - and transformed them into new, culturally based cognitive skills with a social-collective dimension. These transformations took place not in evolutionary time but in historical time, where much can happen in several thousand years. Michael Tomasello

Michael Tomasello
The Cultural Origins of HUMAN COGNITION
Harvard Univ. Press 2000

Language Evolution
Edited by Morten H. Christiansen Simon Kirby
Oxford University Press 2003

James R. Hurford
The Language Mosaic and its Evolution
Hurford Preadaptions

Dunbar Robin
WHY GOSSIP IS GOOD FOR YOU 
NEW SCIENTIST   21.11.92 

Robin Dunbar
The Human Story A new history of mankind's Evolution
faber and faber 2004
pg7
...the essence of what made us who we are, what finally produced humans as we know them, with all that inflorescence of culture that makes us in some intangible but very certain way utterly different from every other species alive today - and, indeed, every other species that preceded us in the long history of life on earth.

Merlin Donald
Origins of the Modern Mind
Harvard University Press. 1991

Michael Tomasello
Constructing a Language
A Usage-Based Theory of Language Aquisition
Harvard 2003

INTENSION-READING - THEORY OF MIND - CATEGORISATION - GRAMMATICALISATION

Charles Whitehead
Evolution of the Human Brain

Journal of Consciousness Studies vol 11, no 12, 2004 pg 80
'Evolution of the Human Brain' —which used physical data to undermine physicalist models. The currently dominant hypothesis of primate brain expansion—the social or 'Machiavellian' intelligence hypothesis—avoids the worst excesses of western individualism, but is still cognocentric, attributing human encephalization to 'intelligence' and language. A better alternative, I suggested, is social mirror theory. The differential pattern of cortical expansions in humans is not consistent with the social intelligence hypothesis, but is consistent with a 'play and display' hypothesis of brain expansion, as predicted by social mirror theory. Furthermore, there were two periods of brain expansion during human evolution, followed by a phase of brain contraction, as predicted by the hypothesis. Cranial cast and archaeological data suggest that song-and-dance display drove the first period of expansion, pretend play the second, and economico­moral culture brought about the final phase of brain contraction.

Gerald M.Edelmann
A UNIVERSE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Basic 2000
pg191
Language and the Self -
...neural changes that lead to language are behind tbe emergence of higher-order consciousness - aspects of the evolution of speech - narrative capabilities

Gehirn & Geist
Spektrum Magazin für Psychologie und Hirnforschung
Nr. 6/2004
MANIFEST


Ramachandran

V.S. Ramachandran and E.M. Hubbard 
Synaesthesia—A Window into Perception, Thought and Language
( on Mirror Neurons)


If you want to find out more about interesting ideas concerning the EVOLUTION of LANGUAGE you can enlarge your horizon reading the following texts:


Heinz von Foerster
Wahrheit ist die Erfindung eines Lügners
Carl Auer 2003

Friederici Angela
Spiegelbild der Sprache - Neurokognition von Musik

Liane M. Gabora
Meme and Variations
A Computational Model of Cultural Evolution

JOHN MCCRONE
Going Inside

A Tour round a Single Moment of Consciousness
Faber&Faber 1999
There are over 6,ooo dialects and 200 language families in the world today. Superficially, the grammar of each looks very differentwith almost any rule of word order or declension of tense appearing to apply. Yet the first feature shared by every known language is that they all divide the flow of words into sentences, speech modules with a self-contained logic. The second is that these sentences always have the three fundamental components of a subject, a verb, and an object - a doer, an action, and a done to. The story they tell is a straight-line, cause-and-effect tale of who did what to whom. Of course, these three essential components can be arranged in any order. The standard English order of subject-verb-object seems the most sensible because it is what we are accustomed to, but other languages, like Japanese, use subject-object-verb. Instead of saying 'the cat sat on the mat', a Japanese speaker would say 'the cat on the mat sat'. Then some languages, like Gaelic, use a verb-subject-object order, so the sentence would read 'seated was the cat on the mat'. In a few rare cases, the object can even come before the subject. This reverse logic sounds as though it would be difficult to follow, but even to English-speaking ears 'on the mat was sitting the cat' still makes sense. What matters is that it seems to tell us the complete story. The sentence has the three components needed to express a simple linear relationship.

Carl Zimmer
Soul Made Flesh
The Discovery of the Brain - and How it changed the World
Heinemann 2004

JAMES R. HURDORD
Language Evolution
Edited by Morten H. Christiansen Simon Kirby
Oxford University Press 2003
The Language Mosaic and its Evolution
James R. Hurford
Keywords: Evolutionary linguistics - Linguistic facts reflect acquired states of the brains of speakers - neurogenesis - evolutionary biology - Kauffman (1993; 1995) - Maynard Smith and Szathmary - transition in evolution: increase in complexity - hierarchy of levels of analysis - Ontogenetic plasticity - psychological and social correlates of language - cultural transmission - pre-adaptation - symbolic capacity - Human languages are largely learned systems - Imitation - Complex Concept Formation - Mental Calculation - Pre-Pragmatic Capacities - Mind-reading and manipulation - Cooperation - Elementary Symbolic Capacity - Cultural Evolution of Languages - langue and parole - grammaticalization -

Wolff-Michael Roth
Toward Biologically Plausible Social Theories
Cybernetics And Human Knowing. Vol. 1O, no. 2, pp. 8-28

GREGORY BATESON
OEKOLOGIE DES GEISTES
Suhrkamp 1988
pg. 22
Keywords: Wissenschaft von Geist und Ordnung - daß ein sehr großer Teil der wissenschaftlichen Grundstruktur des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts unangemessen oder irrelevant für die Probleme und Phänomene war, mit denen es Biologen und Verhaltenswissenschaftler zu tun hatten - Kausalketten aufzuzeigen, die auf Kräfte und Einflüsse zurückgeführt werden konnten - Mathematik war überwiegend quantitativ, Betonung von Kräften und Einflüssen - Energie - psychische Energie -
Ursprungs von Ordnung - Die Gesetze der Erhaltung von Materie und Energie bleiben weiterhin getrennt von den Gesetzen der Ordnung, der negativen Entropie und der Information -
Ordnung wird als eine.Sache des Aussortierens und des Teilens gesehen. Aber der wesentliche Begriff bei allem Aussortieren ist, daß jeder Unterschied später einen anderen Unterschied verursachen soll. Wenn wir schwarze Bälle aus weißen aussortieren oder kleine aus großen, soll dem Unterschied zwischen den Bällen ein solcher in ihrer Lokalisierung folgen - die Bälle der einen Klasse in einen Sack, die der anderen in einen anderen. Für eine solche Operation brauchen wir etwas wie ein Sieb, eine Schwelle oder, par excellence, ein Sinnesorgan. Es ist daher verständlich, daß ein wahrnehmendes Einzelwesen erfunden wurde, um diese Funktion auszuüben, eine ansonsten unwahrscheinliche Ordnung zu schaffen. - Eng verknüpft mit dem Sortieren und Teilen ist das Geheimnis der Klassifizierung, dem später unter den aussergewöhnlichen menschlichen Leistungen das Benennen folgt.  - grundlegende Trennung zwischen den Problemen der materiellen Schöpfung und den Problemen von Ordnung und Differenzierung vor - Dichotomie von Form und Substanz - unbewußte Ableitung aus der Relation zwischen Subjekt und Prädikat in der Struktur der primitiven Sprache - geistige Prozesse, Ideen, Kommunikation, Organisation, Differenzierung, Muster und so weiter haben es eher mit Form als mit Substanz zu tun.

SPRACHGESCHICHTE

INDEX SPRACHGESCHICHTE

URS BOESCHENSTEIN: 

DIE EVOLUTION DER MENSCHENSPRACHE -  WIE AUS GESCHEITEN AFFEN DUMME MENSCHEN WURDEN
 
Francisco Varela/ Humberto Maturana: 
Der Baum der Erkenntnis Scherz 1987 Seite 223
Das Reich der Sprache
...language consists in living together in a flow of coordinations of coordinations of consensual behaviours that arise in the pleasure of the flow of doing things together in recursive interactions. In the origin of humanness the self must have arisen in the same manner that it arises in modern human babies, namely the flow of the coordinations of coordinations of behaviours that bring about the body and its parts as shared objects of inter-objectivity through the mother/child play that calls attention to the proprioceptive sensations that arise through doing things together in coordinations of coordinations of doings. It is because of this that I say that self-consciousness is a recursive operation in languaging that constitutes an open-ended possibility for the continuous arising of new worlds that we may live as we recursively live as self-conscious languaging beings. Humberto Maturana

SEMIOTIK:

SØREN BRIER
CYBERNETICS AND HUMAN KNOWING

Claus Emmeche 
Defining Life as a Semiotic Phenomenon

Phillip Guddemi
Autopeiesis, Semeiosis, and Co-Coupling:
A Relational Language for Describing
Communication and Adaptation

Jesper Hoffmeyer
SURFACES INSIDE SURFACES
On the Origin of Agency and Life

Jesper Hoffmeyer
SIGNS OF MEANING IN THE UNIVERSE
 
SØREN BRIER
CYBERNETICS AND HUMAN KNOWING

First order cybernetics:         The cybernetics of observed systems. 
Second order cybernetics:       The cybernetics of observing systems. 
The general notion of observing systems awakens the notions of language, culture, and communication. Second-order cybernetics is a non-disciplinary approach which through the concept of self-reference wants to re-explore the meaning of cognition and communication within the sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, information and library science, and in social practices such as design, education, organization, therapy, art, and politics.

Swarm Intelligence:

Steven Johnson
EMERGENCE
The Connected Lives of Ants,Brains,Cities, and Software
Scribner 2004

The group element may even explain the explosion in sheer cranial size: social complexity is a problem that scales well—build a module that can analyze one person's mind, and all you need to do is throw more resources at the problem, and you can analyze a dozen minds with the same tools. The brain didn't need to invent any complicated new routines once it figured out how to read a single mind—it just needed to devote more processing power. That power came in the form of brain mass. more neurons to model the behavior of other brains, which themselves contained more neurons, for the same reason. It's a classic case of positive feedback, only it seems to have run into a ceiling of 150 people, according to the latest anthropological studies. We have a natural gift for building theories of other minds, so long as there aren't too many of them.

Perhaps if human evolution had continued on for another million years or so, we'd all be mentally modeling the behavior of entire cities. But for whatever reason, we stopped short at 150, and that's where we remained—until the new technologies of urban living pushed our collectivities beyond the rnagic number. Those oversize communities appeared too quickly for our minds to adapt to them using the tools of natural selection, and so we hit upon another solution, one engineered by the community itself, and not by its genes. We started building neighborhoods, groups within groups. When our lived communities extended beyond the ceiling of human comprehension, we started building new floors.

Mirror neurons and mind reading have an immense amount to teach us about our talents and limitations as a species, and there's no doubt we'll be untangling the "theory of other minds" for years to come. Whatever the underlying mechanism turns out to be, the faculty of mind reading- and its close relation, self-awareness- is clearly an emergent property of the brain's neural networks. We don't know precisely how that higher-level behavior comes into being, but we do know that it is conjured up by the local, feedback­heavy interactions of unwining agents, by the complex adaptive system that we call the human mind. No individual neuron is sentient, and yet somehow the union of billions of neurons creates self­awareness. It may turn out that the brain gets to that self-awareness by first predicting the behavior of neurons residing in other brains-the way, for instance, our brains are hardwired to predict the behavior of light particles and sound waves. But whichever one came first—the extroverted chicken or the self-aware egg - those faculties are prime examples of emergence at work. You wouldn't be able to read these words, or speculate about the inner workings of your mind, were it not for the protean force of emergence.

Steve Grand
CREATION
Life and How to Make it
Phoenix 2001
....tangible assets are apparently good things to have, while the intangible ones a somewhat inferior. Even the word "matter" is pejorative, follows a definite underlying assumption that matter is real and good while the relationships between these material things are somewhat not, and this bias is deeply embedded in our linguistic heritage.
Language provides an important part of our toolkit for conscious thought. For many of us it is very difficult to think consciously without speaking words in our head. Without the right tools, it is very difficult to do an effective job. We can sometimes find it very difficult, if not impossible, to think certain thoughts, simply because words were certain things either don't exist or carry inappropriate baggage with them. The reason why we esteem the material world more than we do the intangible one is fairly obvious - it is the world that our senses tell us is really "out there". Our eyes see physical things, also we like to believe (but remember that we see only the effects of visible radiation emitted or reflected from what we take to be solid objects; we don't really see the objects themselves). On the other hand, we do not have any direct sensory confirmation of intangible things. We don't have poverty sensors, we cannot touch a society, and our only evidence for the existence of other people's minds is the visible or audible motion of their physical bodies. Consequently, we come to believe that the things we can directly sense are a real, while the things we cannot sense are more like figments of our imagination or convenient labels, rather than anything absolute independent and genuine. And yet despite all this, the things we really care about while largely intangible. "Life" is an intangible concept, as is "mind".
pg 31
....our ability to reason is conditioned by our language, which in turn is conditioned by the evidence of our senses. It is hard to break free from our innate respect for "stuff", yet until we do this we shall never understand life, because life is an intangible thing.
pg 36
...to understand life and mind we have to learn to let go of our natural tendency to divide the world into discrete chunks. Living organisms are systems in flux, their constituent stuff changing from moment to moment; minds are not really things in the conventional sense at all. But then, nor are clouds. All these things are shifting, blurred, interacting eddies in a single stream.
pg 39
.... to see yourself as a persistent phenomenon, when the subset from which you are made is in constant flux, is to begin to understand life, and more than just life. Life is not the magical, of fluid substance, but neither is it simply a convenient label to attach to certain combinations of material substances. In fact, material substances themselves are not even as substantial as we have been led to believe.
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SHAMANISM - THE ORIGIN OF RELIGION
THE EVOLUTION OF MUSIC 

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