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How Language Began revolutionizes our understanding of the one tool that has allowed us to become the "lords of the planet." Mankind has a distinct advantage over other terrestrial species: we talk to one another. But how did we acquire the most advanced form of communication on Earth? Daniel L. Everett, a “bombshell” linguist and “instant folk hero” (Tom Wolfe, Harper’s), provides in this sweeping history a comprehensive examination of the evolutionary story of language, from the earliest speaking attempts by hominids to the more than seven thousand languages that exist today. Although fossil hunters and linguists have brought us closer to unearthing the true origins of language, Daniel Everett’s discoveries have upended the contemporary linguistic world, reverberating far beyond academic circles. While conducting field research in the Amazonian rainforest, Everett came across an age-old language nestled amongst a tribe of hunter-gatherers. Challenging long-standing principles in the field, Everett now builds on the theory that language was not intrinsic to our species. In order to truly understand its origins, a more interdisciplinary approach is needed—one that accounts as much for our propensity for culture as it does our biological makeup. Language began, Everett theorizes, with Homo Erectus, who catalyzed words through culturally invented symbols. Early humans, as their brains grew larger, incorporated gestures and voice intonations to communicate, all of which built on each other for 60,000 generations. Tracing crucial shifts and developments across the ages, Everett breaks down every component of speech, from harnessing control of more than a hundred respiratory muscles in the larynx and diaphragm, to mastering the use of the tongue. Moving on from biology to execution, Everett explores why elements such as grammar and storytelling are not nearly as critical to language as one might suspect. In the book’s final section, Cultural Evolution of Language, Everett takes the ever-debated “language gap” to task, delving into the chasm that separates “us” from “the animals.” He approaches the subject from various disciplines, including anthropology, neuroscience, and archaeology, to reveal that it was social complexity, as well as cultural, physiological, and neurological superiority, that allowed humans—with our clawless hands, breakable bones, and soft skin—to become the apex predator. How Language Began ultimately explains what we know, what we’d like to know, and what we likely never will know about how humans went from mere communication to language. Based on nearly forty years of fieldwork, Everett debunks long-held theories by some of history’s greatest thinkers, from Plato to Chomsky. The result is an invaluable study of what makes us human.

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Genre: Science
Author: Daniel L. Everett
Publisher: Liveright Publishing
Release: 2017-11-07
File: 384 Pages
ISBN-13: 9780871404770

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In his groundbreaking new book Daniel Everett seeks answers to questions that have perplexed thinkers from Plato to Chomsky: when and how did language begin? what is it? and what is it for? Daniel Everett confounds the conventional wisdom that language originated with Homo sapiens 150,000 years ago and that we have a 'language instinct'. Drawing on evidence from a wide range of fields, including linguistics, archaeology, biology, anthropology and neuroscience, he shows that our ancient ancestors, Homo erectus, had the biological and mental equipment for speech one and half million years ago, and that their cultural and technological achievements (including building ocean-going boats) make it overwhelmingly likely they spoke some kind of language. How Language Began sheds new light on language and culture and what it means to be human and, as always, Daniel Everett spices his account with incident and anecdote. His book is convincing, arresting and entertaining.

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Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
Author: Daniel Everett
Publisher: Profile Books
Release: 2017-09-21
File: 330 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781782831280

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The first book to explain how speech and gesture evolved together into a system that all humans possess.

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Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
Author: David McNeill
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release: 2012-08-30
File: 264 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781107021211

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Is it in our nature to be altruistic, or evil, to make art, use tools, or create language? Is it in our nature to think in any particular way? For Daniel L. Everett, the answer is a resounding no: it isn’t in our nature to do any of these things because human nature does not exist—at least not as we usually think of it. Flying in the face of major trends in Evolutionary Psychology and related fields, he offers a provocative and compelling argument in this book that the only thing humans are hardwired for is freedom: freedom from evolutionary instinct and freedom to adapt to a variety of environmental and cultural contexts. Everett sketches a blank-slate picture of human cognition that focuses not on what is in the mind but, rather, what the mind is in—namely, culture. He draws on years of field research among the Amazonian people of the Pirahã in order to carefully scrutinize various theories of cognitive instinct, including Noam Chomsky’s foundational concept of universal grammar, Freud’s notions of unconscious forces, Adolf Bastian’s psychic unity of mankind, and works on massive modularity by evolutionary psychologists such as Leda Cosmides, John Tooby, Jerry Fodor, and Steven Pinker. Illuminating unique characteristics of the Pirahã language, he demonstrates just how differently various cultures can make us think and how vital culture is to our cognitive flexibility. Outlining the ways culture and individual psychology operate symbiotically, he posits a Buddhist-like conception of the cultural self as a set of experiences united by various apperceptions, episodic memories, ranked values, knowledge structures, and social roles—and not, in any shape or form, biological instinct. The result is fascinating portrait of the “dark matter of the mind,” one that shows that our greatest evolutionary adaptation is adaptability itself.

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Genre: Social Science
Author: Daniel L. Everett
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Release: 2016-11-15
File: 400 Pages
ISBN-13: 9780226401430

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A unique overview of the human language faculty at all levels of organization. Language is not only one of the most complex cognitive functions that we command, it is also the aspect of the mind that makes us uniquely human. Research suggests that the human brain exhibits a language readiness not found in the brains of other species. This volume brings together contributions from a range of fields to examine humans' language capacity from multiple perspectives, analyzing it at genetic, neurobiological, psychological, and linguistic levels. In recent decades, advances in computational modeling, neuroimaging, and genetic sequencing have made possible new approaches to the study of language, and the contributors draw on these developments. The book examines cognitive architectures, investigating the functional organization of the major language skills; learning and development trajectories, summarizing the current understanding of the steps and neurocognitive mechanisms in language processing; evolutionary and other preconditions for communication by means of natural language; computational tools for modeling language; cognitive neuroscientific methods that allow observations of the human brain in action, including fMRI, EEG/MEG, and others; the neural infrastructure of language capacity; the genome's role in building and maintaining the language-ready brain; and insights from studying such language-relevant behaviors in nonhuman animals as birdsong and primate vocalization. Section editors Christian F. Beckmann, Carel ten Cate, Simon E. Fisher, Peter Hagoort, Evan Kidd, Stephen C. Levinson, James M. McQueen, Antje S. Meyer, David Poeppel, Caroline F. Rowland, Constance Scharff, Ivan Toni, Willem Zuidema

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Genre: Psychology
Author: Peter Hagoort
Publisher: MIT Press
Release: 2019-10-29
File: 752 Pages
ISBN-13: 9780262353878

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Although Daniel Everett was a missionary, far from converting the Pirahs, they converted him. He shows the slow, meticulous steps by which he gradually mastered their language and his gradual realisation that its unusual nature closely reflected its speakers' startlingly original perceptions of the world. Everett describes how he began to realise that his discoveries about the Pirah language opened up a new way of understanding how language works in our minds and in our lives, and that this way was utterly at odds with Noam Chomsky's universally accepted linguistic theories. The perils of passionate academic opposition were then swiftly conjoined to those of the Amazon in a debate whose outcome has yet to be won. Everett's views are most recently discussed in Tom Wolfe's bestselling The Kingdom of Speech. Adventure, personal enlightenment and the makings of a scientific revolution proceed together in this vivid, funny and moving book.

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Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
Author: Daniel Everett
Publisher: Profile Books
Release: 2010-07-09
File: 327 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781847651228

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Like other tools, language was invented, can be reinvented or lost, and shows significant variation across cultures. It's as essential to survival as fire - and, like fire, is found in all human societies. Language presents the bold and controversial idea that language is not an innate component of the brain, as has been famously argued by Chomsky and Pinker. Rather, it's a cultural tool which varies much more across different societies than the innateness view suggests. Fusing adventure, anthropology, linguistics and psychology, and drawing on Everett's pioneering research with the Amazonian Pirahs, Language argues that language is embedded within - and is inseparable from - its specific culture. This book is like a fire that will generate much light. And much heat.

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Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
Author: Daniel Everett
Publisher: Profile Books
Release: 2012-03-22
File: 320 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781847654151

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"Mind-blowing." —Kim Gordon A Sand Book is a poetry collection in nine parts, a travel guide that migrates from wildfires to hurricanes, tweety bird to the president, lust to aridity, desertification to prophecy, and mother to daughter. It explores the negative space of what is happening to language and to consciousness in our strange and desperate times. From Hurricane Sandy to the murder of Sandra Bland to the massacre at Sandy Hook, from the sand in the gizzards of birds to the desertified mountains of Haiti, from Attar's Conference of the Birds to Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls to Twitter, a sand book is about change and quantification, the relationship between catastrophe and cultural transmission. It moves among houses of worship and grocery stores, flitters between geological upheaval and the weird weather of the Internet. In her long-awaited follow-up to Mercury, Reines has written her most ambitious work to date, but also her most visceral and satisfying.

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Genre: Poetry
Author: Ariana Reines
Publisher: Tin House Books
Release: 2019-06-18
File: 323 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781947793330

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Destined to become a modern classic in the vein of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Sapiens is a lively, groundbreaking history of humankind told from a unique perspective. 100,000 years ago, at least six species of human inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo Sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations, and human rights; to trust money, books, and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables, and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? In Sapiens, Dr. Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical -- and sometimes devastating -- breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural, and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, palaeontology, and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come? Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power...and our future.

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Genre: History
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Publisher: Signal
Release: 2014-10-28
File: 512 Pages
ISBN-13: 9780771038525

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David Crystal's classic English as a Global Language considers the history, present status and future of the English language, focusing on its role as the leading international language. English has been deemed the most 'successful' language ever, with 1500 million speakers internationally, presenting a difficult task to those who wish to investigate it in its entirety. However, Crystal explores the subject in a measured but engaging way, always backing up observations with facts and figures. Written in a detailed and fascinating manner, this is a book written by an expert both for specialists in the subject and for general readers interested in the English language.

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Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
Author: David Crystal
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release: 2012-03-29
File: 212 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781107611801

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