The Emergence of Protolanguage

Holophrasis vs compositionality

| University of Southern California
| University of Southern California
ISBN 9789027222541 | EUR 85.00 | USD 128.00
ISBN 9789027287823 | EUR 85.00 | USD 128.00

Somewhere and somehow, in the 5 to 7 million years since the last common ancestors of humans and the great apes, our ancestors “got” language. The authors of this volume all agree that there was no single mutation or cultural innovation that took our ancestors directly from a limited system of a few vocalizations (primarily innate) and gestures (some learned) to language. They further agree to use the term “protolanguage” for the beginnings of an open system of symbolic communication that provided the bridge to the use of fully expressive languages, rich in both lexicon and grammar. But here consensus ends, and the theories presented here range from the compositional view that protolanguage was based primarily on words akin to the nouns and verbs, etc., we know today with only syntax lacking to the holophrastic view that protolanguage used protowords which had no meaningful subunits which might nonetheless refer to complex but significantly recurrent events.

The present volume does not decide the matter but it does advance our understanding. The lack of any direct archaeological record of protolanguage might seem to raise insuperable difficulties. However, this volume exhibits the diversity of methodologies that can be brought to bear in developing datasets that can be used to advance the debate.

These articles were originally published as Interaction Studies 9:1 (2008).

[Benjamins Current Topics, 24]  2010.  xi, 181 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
Is a holistic protolanguage a plausible precursor to language? A test case for a modern evolutionary linguistics
Kenny Smith
Proto-discourse and the emergence of compositionality
Jillian Bowie
Protolanguage in ontogeny and phylogeny: Combining deixis and representation
Patricia M. Greenfield, Heidi Lyn and E. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh
From metonymy to syntax in the communication of events
Jean-Louis Dessalles
The "complex first" paradox: Why do semantically thick concepts so early lexicalize as nouns?
Markus Werning
Holophrastic protolanguage: Planning, processing, storage, and retrieval
Maggie Tallerman
Protolanguage reconstructed
Andrew D.M. Smith
Growth points from the very beginning
David McNeill, Susan D. Duncan, Jonathan Cole, Shaun Gallagher and Bennett Bertenthal
The roots of linguistic organization in a new language
Mark Aronoff, Irit Meir, Carol A. Padden and Wendy Sandler
Holophrasis and the protolanguage spectrum
Michael A. Arbib
But how did protolanguage actually start?
Derek Bickerton
Name index
Subject index
Cited by

Cited by 6 other publications

Abraham, Werner
2019. What are the guiding principles in the evolution of language: Paradigmatics or syntagmatics?. Evolutionary Linguistic Theory 1:2  pp. 109 ff. Crossref logo
Arbib, Michael A.
2011. From Mirror Neurons to Complex Imitation in the Evolution of Language and Tool Use. Annual Review of Anthropology 40:1  pp. 257 ff. Crossref logo
Arbib, Michael A.
2015. From Action-Oriented Perception to Language. Cognitive Semiotics 8:1  pp. 1 ff. Crossref logo
2021. CHOMSKY’NİN PROBLEMİ: DİLİN EVRİMİ. Çukurova Üniversitesi Türkoloji Araştırmaları Dergisi Crossref logo
Kirby, Simon
2017. Culture and biology in the origins of linguistic structure. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 24:1  pp. 118 ff. Crossref logo
2013. Join the dots: A musical interlude in the evolution of language?. Journal of Linguistics 49:2  pp. 455 ff. Crossref logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 17 january 2022. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.

Subjects & Metadata
BIC Subject: CFF – Historical & comparative linguistics
BISAC Subject: LAN009000 – LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2010025972 | Marc record