Books by Subject

Language Development

Genes, Peoples and Languages
by Luigi Luca Cavalli- Sforza, Mark Seielstad (Translator)

Hardcover - 224 pages (March 2000)
North Point Press; ISBN: 0865475296 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.02 x 8.55 x 5.85 Sales Rank: 2,680

Editorial Reviews

Book Description
A fascinating investigation into the relationship between genes, language, race, and culture.

Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza was among the first to ask whether the genes of modern populations contain a historical record of the human species. Cavalli-Sforza and others have answered this question-anticipated by Darwin-with a decisive yes. Genes, Peoples, and Languages is a summation of the author's work over several decades, the goal of which has been nothing less than tracking the past 100,000 years of human evolution. Cavalli-Sforza raises questions that have serious political, social, and scientific import: When and where did we evolve? How have human societies spread across the continents? How have cultural innovations affected the growth and spread of populations? What is the connection between genes and languages? Always provocative and often astonishing, Cavalli-Sforza explains why there is no genetic basis for racial classification and proposes that a comparison of blood types is a far better means of determining "genetic distance" and explaining linguistic and cultural differences. A panoramic tour of the major discoveries in genetic anthropology, Genes, Peoples, and Languages gives us a rare firsthand account of some of the most significant scientific work of recent years. Enthralling, profound, and lively, this is popular science writing at its best.
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Tower of Babel : The Evidence Against the New Creationism
by Robert T. Pennock

Hardcover - 440 pages (March 1999)
MIT Press; ISBN: 026216180X ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.36 x 9.22 x 6.33

The face of creationism has been through some major plastic surgery in the past decade or so. The leading proponents of "intelligent design theory" have left the ranting flat-earth types behind and found respected positions in the academic world from which to launch attacks on mainstream science. Philosopher of science Robert T. Pennock has explored all sides of the ongoing debate, which remains (despite the protestations of many creationists) more about biblical ignorance than scientific evidence. His book Tower of Babel examines the new directions antievolutionist have taken lately, but goes beyond a mere recounting of recent history by proposing a new avenue of counterattack: linguistics.

The parallels are striking once we look closely: Genesis proclaims that God created all human languages at one stroke, while modern scientific thought proposes linguistic evolution similar in form to genetics. Best of all for scientists, though, linguistic change is much more rapid than biological change, and we have actually observed what might be called "speciation events" to have occurred historically in languages. While not meant to supplant traditional arguments against creationism, Pennock's ideas certainly supplement them and will be useful to educators and researchers alike. His sense of urgency is compelling; he sees the future of scientific education and freedom at stake and argues strongly for a separation between private beliefs and public knowledge. --Rob Lightner

Creationism is no longer the simple notion it once was taken to be. Its new advocates have become more sophisticated in how they present their views, speaking of "intelligent design" rather than "creation science" and aiming their arguments against the naturalistic philosophical method that underlies science, proposing to replace it with a "theistic science." The creationism-evolution controversy is not just about the status of Darwinian evolution - it is a clash of religious and philosophical worldviews, for a common underlying fear among creationists is that evolution undermines both the basis of morality as they understand it and the possibility of purpose in life. In Tower of Babel, philosopher Robert T. Pennock compares the views of the new creationists with those of the old and reveals the insubstantiality of their arguments. One of Pennock's major innovations is to turn from biological evolution to the less-charged subject of linguistic evolution, which has strong theoretical parallels with biological evolution both in content and in the sort of evidence scientists use to draw conclusions about origins.

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Apes, Language, and the Human Mind
by E. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh

Hardcover - 288 pages (June 1998)
Oxford Univ Press; ISBN: 0195109864 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.80 x 9.56 x 6.36

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The Symbolic Species : The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain
by Terrence W. Deacon
Paperback - 527 pages (April 1998)
W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393317544 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.16 x 9.21 x 6.41
Other Editions: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews
Terrence Deacon's The Symbolic Species begins with a question posed by a 7-year-old child: Why can't animals talk? Or, as Deacon puts it, if animals have simpler brains, why can't they develop a simpler form of language to go with them? Thus begins the basic line of inquiry for this breathtakingly ambitious work, which attempts to describe the origins of human language and consciousness.

What separates humans from animals, Deacon writes, is our capacity for symbolic representation. Animals can easily learn to link a sound with an object or an effect with a cause. But symbolic thinking assumes the ability to associate things that might only rarely have a physical correlation; think of the word "unicorn," for instance, or the idea of the future. Language is only the outward expression of this symbolic ability, which lays the foundation for everything from human laughter to our compulsive search for meaning.

The final section of The Symbolic Species posits that human brains and human language have coevolved over millions of years, leading Deacon to the remarkable conclusion that many modern human traits were actually caused by ideas. Deacon's background in biological anthropology and neuroscience makes him a reliable companion through this complicated multidisciplinary turf. Rigorously researched and argued in dense but lively prose, The Symbolic Species is that rare animal, a book of serious science that's accessible to layman and scientist alike. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Talk and Social Structure : Studies in Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis
by Deidre Boden & Don H. Zimmerman (Editor)

Hardcover (December 1991)
Univ California Press; ISBN: 0520075064
Availability: This title usually ships within 4-6 weeks. Please note that titles occasionally go out of print or publishers run out of stock. We will notify you within 2-3 weeks if we have trouble obtaining this title.
Book Description
Talk is at the heart of everyday existence, yet social scientists have traditionally treated it as peripheral to human affairs and social structure. This collection of original essays offers a new and different perspective that sees talk as the fundamental framework of social interaction and social institutions.

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The Seeds of Speech : Language Origin and Evolution (Canto Book)
by Jean Aitchison

Paperback - 304 pages (August 2000)
Cambridge Univ Pr (Trd); ISBN: 0521785715 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.60 x 8.42 x 5.40

Other Editions: Hardcover

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Everyday Conversation
by Robert E. Nofsinger

Paperback - 180 pages (August 20, 1999)
Waveland Press; ISBN: 157766079X
Other Editions: Hardcover
Book Description
Everyday Conversation fills a specific niche. It introduces in a readable way major concepts for understanding conversationas viewed from the perspective of conversation analysis and, to a lesser extent, speech act theory. Readers benefit from having access to technical concepts otherwise beyond their reach; others will benefit from having a manageable entry point from which to investigate these concepts further. Outstanding features include: illustrates primary discussions by segments of real-life talk; describes conversation predominantly from one perspective--conversation analysis; and offers specific details of conversation patterning in the data segments and the accompanying point-by-point discussions.
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Harvey Sacks : Social Science and Conversation Analysis
by David Silverman

Paperback (September 1998)
Oxford Univ Press; ISBN: 0195214730
Other Editions Hardcover

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The Emergence of the Speech Capacity
by D. Kimbrough Oller

Paperback (January 2000)
Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc; ISBN: 0805826297

Other Editions: Hardcover

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Approaches to the Evolution of Language : Social and Cognitive Bases
by James R. Hurford, (Editor), Michael Studdert-Kennedy, (Editor), Chri Knight

Hardcover (September 1998)
Cambridge Univ Pr (Short); ISBN: 0521630495

Other Editions: Paperback
Editorial Reviews
Book Description
This is one of the first systematic attempts to bring language within the neo-Darwinian framework of modern evolutionary theory. 24 co-ordinated essays by linguists, phoneticians, anthropologists, psychologists and cognitive scientists explore the origins of the complex structure of human language, emphasizing its social (as opposed to purely practical) bases, and showing the mechanisms by which this structure emerges, is maintained, and develops.

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