Origin of Language, The

978-1-85506-437-9
Paper $24
344 pages, notes, Key Issues

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Origin of Language, The

Harris, Roy, editor

Public debate about language in the English-speaking world during the nineteenth-century turned on the issue of how language began. The notion that language was a divine gift to humanity, not shared by lower creatures, was supported by the Biblical accounts of Adam naming the animals and of the Tower of Babel. It was still accepted by leading religious authorities. But this notion was seriously brought into question by the publication of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Those who rejected Darwinism ridiculed all attempts to conjure up language out of primitive calls, grunts, and ejaculations.. On the other side were those who held that it was possible to account for the birth of language rationally as a function of the development of human communicational needs in society.