Linguistics 320
The Origin and Evolution of Human Language
Prof. Suzanne Kemmer
Course Homepage
Course Schedule

Books, Websites, and other Sources

Tentative Schedule of Topics
With Readings

The readings posted here are tentative and will be announced in advance in each week. Fuller references are given in Books, Websites and Other Sources.

WkDate Topic Readings and Assignments
1 Jan 8 Special guest lecture by James R. HurfordNo advance reading. Hurford talk
Jan 10 Introduction. What is a language system? No reading

2 Jan 15 Some design features of Language Hockett 1960
Jan 17Human vs. animal comm. systems Hockett 1960 cont.; Tomasello excerpt

3Jan 22More features of human communication. Structural aspects of language. Vervet monkey call system vs. human lg. begin Tomasello 2002, chapter from Evolution of Language
Jan 24 The social-cognitive revolution in 9-12 month old human children. Lexical symbols vs. grammar. Tomasello 2002, cont.
4Jan 29 Close primate relatives. Points of comparison: vocal tract; hands, feet; gaitNo reading
Jan 31Primate relatives, cont. Behavioral comparisons. Tomasello and Call 1997: Tools and Causality. Links on bird and primate observations
5Feb 5 Points of comparison: brain; cortical structures. Some aspects of primate cognition. Mirror system: monkey, human. Tool use in primates. Tomasello and Call 1997: Tools and Causality, cont.
Feb 7More aspects of primate cognition. Summary: comparison of non-human primate cognition and human cognition. The evolutionary gulf our ancestors had to bridge. Tomasello and Call 1997, cont.
6Feb 12-14 The symbolic link in humans. Background and introduction to Deacon's views No reading; can start reading Deacon. Begin choice of book or long article to review
7Feb 19 Computer-based symbolic systems vs. true semiotic-based systems. Indexicality. Functional complexity of the semiotic function of symbols. Cutting through the nativism debate. Functional semiotic constraints as explanation for observed properties of human language systems, rather than nativism. Claims and controversies 1: Corballis' gestural origin theory. Language and handedness. Deacon 2003; begin Corballis 2003
Feb 21 Guest lecture, Dr. Amy Franklin. Corballis' gestural origin theory; McNeill results on the relation of gesture and language; and how the latter bear on the former. Corballis (2003). (Recommended: Corballis interview on handedness and brain asymmetry.) Read McNeill In press

8Feb 26 Remaining issues on gesture and language and potential evolutionary connection. Start overview of hominid evolution. Family tree turns into "family bush". Monogenesis vs. polygenesis of human origins. The Australopithecines. In-class audio: interview with Donald Johanson. Finish McNeill In press. Start looking at Hominids webpages on Sources
Feb 28 Homo habilis and Homo erectus. Innovations in morphology. Implications for communicative behavior. More claims and controversies. Hominids pages
9Mar 4-6 Midterm Recess.
10Mar 11 Habilis and Erectus cont. and other side branches. Evidential gaps. Overview of stone tools. Read summaries by Kemmer: a) Dimensions of Hominid evolution; b) Habilis and Erectus. Study and compare timelines linked on Sources.
Mar 13 Summary so far of aspects of evolutionary development of humans. Fitting certain hominids into the Dimensions of Hominid evolution outline. Indeterminacies in paleoanthropology. Web summaries and timelines, cont.
11Mar 18Fossil remains, mainly tools. Implications for communication. Timeline summarizing relation of events, fossils, date ranges. Davidson 2002.
Mar 20Emergence of the new species. Archaic Homo Sapiens. Sapiens websites.
12Mar 25 Exursus: Back to cognitive issues. Uniformitarian hypothesis of human cognition in modern sapiens. (Continue exploring sapiens sites)
Mar 27The upper paleolithic. A flowering of technology and culture? Websites cont. Start reading Sykes: The Seven Daughters of Eve, pp. 17-49, 50-85 (for discussion following week).
13Apr 1 Mitochondrial DNA. Genetic evidence for hypotheses of human diaspora. The spread of Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Sykes: The Seven Daughters of Eve. pp. 17-49, 50-85.
Apr 3 No class, Spring Recess. Reviews can now be uploaded to Owlspace. If you have other work due the following week, schedule your completion of the reviews for April 1 or 3. Read Sykes 139-211: The First Europeans; the Last of the Neanderthals; Hunters and Farmers; We are Not Amused (a scientific controversy and resolution)

14 Apr 8 Continuation: Cheddar Man speaks. Sykes 212-230. Review due date. Upload to appropriate Resources folder on Owlspace
Apr 10Seven daughters of Eve. Final discussion. Ruhlen, Greenberg handouts. Last possible date to turn in Review. Upload by 5 pm. to appropriate Resources folder on Owlspace
15Apr 15 Project presentations Amy, Marjorie
Apr 17 Project presentations Hailey, Quinn, Farheen
16 Apr 22 Last project presentations. Conclusion on Evolution of Human Language. Mary, Jaecel
Apr 23 Due: Final version of Powerpoints and Term Papers, 5 p.m.

Powerpoints: If you are waiting for feedback on Powerpoint, you can take until Thursday Apr 24 5 pm.

Papers: If you are writing a paper, upload a version by Wed. Apr 23. If you do this but wish to revise it still, then you can submit a final copy by Thursday Apr 24 5 pm.

Upload to appropriate Resources folder on Owlspace
It is a good idea to review the Course Requirements and Grading page at Requirements/Grading before submitting your final work.