Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Language Evolution$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Morten H. Christiansen and Simon Kirby

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199244843

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199244843.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 12 December 2018

The Archaeological Evidence of Language Origins: States of Art

The Archaeological Evidence of Language Origins: States of Art

Chapter:
(p.140) 8 The Archaeological Evidence of Language Origins: States of Art
Source:
Language Evolution
Author(s):

Iain Davidson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199244843.003.0008

This chapter deals with the human use of symbols from the viewpoint of archaeology. It argues that anatomical evidence from skeletal remains contributes little to the understanding of the evolution of language because of the difficulty in determining possible linguistic behaviours from fossilised bones. The archeological record of artefacts may reveal something about the behaviour that produced them. In particular, analyses of ancient art objects provide evidence of symbol use dating back at least 70,000 years. These artefacts indicate sophisticated symbol use that incorporates two key features of language: open-ended productivity and the ability to use symbols to stand for things displaced in time and place. On the other hand, evidence of syntax has proved more elusive in the archaeological record. Symbol use is the first crucial step toward modern human language, with syntax emerging through cultural learning processes that include grammaticalisation and iterated learning across generations.

Keywords:   language, archaeology, symbols, syntax, grammaticalisation, artefacts, fossilised bones, art

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .