The Origin and Evolution of Human Language
Prof. Suzanne Kemmer
Books, Websites, and other Sources
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.
|Wk||Date||Topic||Readings and Assignments|
|1||Jan 8||Special guest lecture by James R. Hurford||No 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 17||Human vs. animal comm. systems ||Hockett 1960
cont.; Tomasello excerpt
|3||Jan 22||More features of
human communication. Structural aspects of language.
Vervet monkey call system vs. human lg. ||begin Tomasello 2002, chapter from Evolution of Language
The social-cognitive revolution in 9-12 month old human children.
Lexical symbols vs. grammar.
||Tomasello 2002, cont.
||4||Jan 29 ||Close primate relatives. Points of
comparison: vocal tract; hands, feet; gait||No reading
||Jan 31||Primate relatives, cont. Behavioral
comparisons. ||Tomasello and Call 1997: Tools and Causality.
Links on bird and primate observations
|| 5||Feb 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 7||More 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.
||6||Feb 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
||7||Feb 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
|8||Feb 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
||9||Mar 4-6|| Midterm
||10||Mar 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.
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.
||11||Mar 18||Fossil remains, mainly tools.
Implications for communication. Timeline
summarizing relation of events, fossils, date ranges. ||Davidson 2002.
||Mar 20||Emergence of the new species. Archaic Homo Sapiens.
||12||Mar 25|| Exursus: Back to cognitive issues.
Uniformitarian hypothesis of human cognition in modern sapiens.
||(Continue exploring sapiens sites)
||Mar 27||The 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).
||13||Apr 1 ||
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.
due date. Upload to appropriate Resources folder on Owlspace
||Apr 10||Seven 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
||15||Apr 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