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Music, Language, and Human Evolution$
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Nicholas Bannan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199227341

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199227341.001.0001

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The Evolution of the Human Vocal Tract

The Evolution of the Human Vocal Tract

Specialized for Speech?

Chapter:
(p.58) 3 The Evolution of the Human Vocal Tract
Source:
Music, Language, and Human Evolution
Author(s):

Margaret Clegg

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199227341.003.0003

This chapter examines whether the purpose of the evolution of the vocal tract is for specialized speech. It describes descent of the larynx during human evolution and the evidence that Neanderthals reversed the trend to a low laryngeal position. It discusses the role of the hyoid bone and the contribution of the brain to speech and language. This chapter also suggests that the human ability to speak developed from existing anatomy and capabilities and that the development of the vocal tract that allows human to produce the sounds of speech is fortuitous.

Keywords:   vocal tract, larynx, human evolution, Neanderthals, hyoid bone, speech, language

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