LINGUIST List 12.938

Wed Apr 4 2001

Books: Language & Mind

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <>

Links to the websites of all LINGUIST's supporting publishers are available at the end of this issue.


  1. Robin Allott, Language & Mind: The Natural Origin of Language by Robin Allott

Message 1: Language & Mind: The Natural Origin of Language by Robin Allott

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 09:45:44 +0100
From: Robin Allott <>
Subject: Language & Mind: The Natural Origin of Language by Robin Allott

The Structural Inter-relation of Language, Visual Perception and Action
Robin Allott


The starting-point for the book is the straightforward question: Where
do these words come from? What is the source of the unbroken stream or
river of language, which we all experience, both in talking to others
and in formulating our own thoughts? The answer proposed is that
words, the fabric of language, are not arbitrary, a conventional
cultural product of human ingenuity. Evolutionarily and
physiologically they derive directly from and are integrated with
perception and action, the other main components of total human
behaviour. A few years ago, it would have been necessary to apologise
for even venturing to discuss the origin of language, never mind for
suggesting that words are not arbitrary, but such an apology is no
longer necessary. The origin of language, so extensively discussed in
the 18th century and earlier, is once again a living and respectable
subject for scientists with many different types of expertise.

The hypothesis of the natural and evolutionary basis of language
presented in this book has as an immediate consequence the integration
of linguistics with the rest of science, and particularly with
biology, neurology and physiology. Perhaps even more important than
the direct impact on linguistics as a real science in embryo, is the
significance of the new view of language for research into brain
function. At present, the neurologies of voluntary action, of
language and of perception, of thought and consciousness, present
difficulties of astronomical proportions, and research into each of
these has inevitably been treated as a distinct field of study. If one
now assumes, on the theory presented here, an underlying functional
integration of language, vision and action, then the 'window' into the
brain that language affords (Karl Lashley's phrase) becomes of vastly
greater potential importance.

Natural Origin of Language 
ISBN 1 903607 09 4 Able Publishing.
Pp. 267. US $29 UK 19.99 Sterling 
To place order email:
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Wednesday, March 28, 2001