Episode 30 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language, by Christine Kenneally. We focus mostly on the first part of the book, which tells the story of how the study of language evolution has grown from almost a banned subject to a new field of inquiry called evolutionary linguistics. We also reflect on how recent findings in neuroscience like the importance of plasticity are influencing the field.
Scientists discussed in the Episode:
- Pinker, Steven, and Paul Bloom, "Natural Language and Natural Selection," Behavioral and Brains Sciences 13 (1990): 707-84.
- Marc D. Hauser, Noam Chomsky, and W. Tecumseh Fitch (2002). "The Faculty of Language: What Is It, Who Has It, and How Did It Evolve?" Science 298:1569-1579.
- Christine Kenneally, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language (2007).
- Stanley I. Greenspan and Stuart G. Shanker, The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved from our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans (2004).
*Additional references can be found in Kenneally's book and at the websites of the scientists listed above. Also, be sure to check out Kenneally's blog for follow-up information.