From: Randall Eggert <randylinguistlist.org>
Subject: Review: Cognitive Science: Hurford (2007)
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AUTHOR: Hurford, James R.
TITLE: The Origins of Meaning
SUBTITLE: Language in the Light of Evolution 1
SERIES: Studies in the Evolution of Language
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press
Grover Hudson, Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African
Languages, Michigan State University
This very readable and satisfying book is an examination of ''pre-linguistic
animal concepts and social lives'' which the author supposes ''take us to the
brink of modern human language, when the species became for the first time
language-ready'' (p. x). The argument, the evidence, and the style encourage the
reader to give attention, read on, and look forward with interest to the
promised continuation in the next volume. The wealth of studies presented and
their informed, insightful, yet cautious interpretation provide probable insight
into how and how readily language might have evolved out of animal prelanguage.
This is one of two volumes under under the title _Language in the Light of
Evolution_, echoing, says Hurford, Dobzhansky's (1973) title ''Nothing in Biology
Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution'' - that is, nothing in linguistics
as well. The present book ''gives a picture of the semantic and pragmatic aspects
of pre-human language-readiness'', and the second, titled _The Evolution of
Linguistic Form_, will concern ''the final processes tipping us over the brink of
language, the emergence of a shared lexicon and then of complex linguistic
forms'' (p. x).
Hurford is well qualified for this ambitious project, having written books on
semantics and the typology of number systems, and in recent years several
articles anticipating chapters of this book. He is an adaptationist, in the
contrast drawn by Chomsky (2006: 175-6) between the 'adaptationist' hypothesis
of Darwin, in the words of Pinker (2003: 17) ''that the human language faculty is
a complex biological adaptation that evolved by natural selection for
communication in a knowledge-using, socially interdependent lifestyle'', and the
'saltationist' hypothesis of Wallace, nowadays often referenced to Chomsky,
according to whom (2006: 176) ''the faculty of language'' more probably arose
''through some slight genetic event that brought a crucial innovation'' by which
''the brain was rewired, perhaps by some slight mutation, to provide the
operation Merge'' (Chomsky, p. 184; hence, recursion). The former hypothesis, it
might be assumed, rejects (perhaps ignores) the distinction claimed within the
latter between broad and narrow faculties of language; see discussion by Heine
and Kuteva (2007: 10-12), and Hurford's comment (p. xi-xii) that ''the study of
language evolution has suffered in the past from insufficient acknowledgement of
[the] rich multi-component nature of language...evident in studies which, while
sometimes ambitiously labelled 'the evolution of language'... in fact just focus
on one domain, such as... syntax (recursion).''
There is an ambiguity in the phrase ''evolution of language'', which has the
senses 'appearance of language out of pre-language' and 'development or growth
of language subsequent to origin', which arise from different traditions and
different data, are pursued in quite different lines of research, and probably
appeal to different audiences. The present book, concerned with the appearance
sense (specifically the animal precursors of linguistic meaning) might be
contrasted with another important 2007 book concerned with the development sense
(specifically the development of grammatical morphology): Heine and Kuteva 2007.
The present book has two parts of five chapters each, Part I ''Meaning Before
Communication'' and Part II ''Communication: What and Why?'' Hurford says that Part
I can be considered to concern semantics and Part II pragmatics (xi). In fact
Chapter 1 looks forward to both parts, and Chapter 10 looks back on and forward
from both parts. Chapters 2-9 less 5 consist largely of presentation and
interpretation of experimental studies on animal cognition or 'meanings', from
which Hurford quotes liberally, and I will mention briefly a few of the studies
from these chapters, as the best way to give a sense of each. Hurford apologizes
for his liberal quoting, but he shouldn't; nothing is more exasperating than
paraphrases found to be less accurate and insightful than the originals - and
often no shorter!
Chapter 1 ''Let's Agree on Terms'', provides method and assumptions. Hurford says
''we can identify behaviour in animals similar enough to the human behaviour
that prompts us to say that humans possess concepts, so it is natural to say
that these animals possess concepts too'' (1). He approvingly quotes Fitch (2005)
regarding the ''rich cognitive abilities of non-human primates'' which show them
as ''having quite complex minds, particularly in the social realm, but lacking a
communicative mechanism capable of expressing most of this mental activity''(2).
''Rudimentary concepts, ideas, and thoughts (or something very like them), about
things, events, and situations in the world,'' Hurford believes (5-6), ''can
reasonably be said to exist in animals' minds, event though they may not ever be
publicly expressed in language, or indeed in any kind of communication
whatsoever,'' a ''thesis diametrically opposed'' to Wittgenstein's ''The limits of
my language mean the limits of my world'', which Hurford says ''would imply that a
languageless creature has no world.''
Hurford subscribes to the view ''that the relationship of meaning between
language and the world is indirect, and is mediated by the mind, which is host
to such things as concepts, ideas, and thoughts'' (5). The opposite view he
attributes ''especially [to] formal semantics, which is embarrassed to speculate
about what might go on inside people's heads.'' For the 'materialist' argument,
perhaps instead of formal semanticists see Dennett (1991).
Chapter 2, ''Animals Approach Human Cognition'', argues that animals have concepts
including that of animacy, 'transitive inference' (A>B, B>C so A>C), and the
distinction of declarative vs. imperative. Hurford asserts that ''any claim of
resemblance between an animal concept and a human concept is based on their
apparent extensions in the world'' (20), so he reasonably doubts the claim of
Wittgenstein that ''if a lion could talk, we could not understand him'' (21).
Lions would certainly talk about our shared world. Even pigeons appear to
conceive of pictures as belonging to 'schools', categorizing ''Cezanne and Renoir
as Monet school'', and ''paintings by Braque and Matisse as... Picasso school''
(23). Signing chimpanzees famously use abstract and symbolic (arbitrary) signs
to categorize things as 'same' and 'different' (26), and the celebrated parrot
Alex 12 of 15 times correctly answers the question ''What's same?'' to a list of
objects on a tray having color, size, shape differences, and ''What color / shape?''
These Hurford apparently considers to be 'pre-concepts', because ''concepts
should be stimulus free..., not completely involuntary or reflexive or
automatic'' (29). Furthermore, ''many of these results... describe what animals
can do, if pushed'', having not yet ''started to move along the road to language''.
It isn't hard to believe that tamarins have the pre-concept 'animate', evidenced
in their reactions to ''four different kinds of object in a novel location after
the object had moved (or been moved) out of sight...[O]nly one type, the animate
ones, such as live frogs and mice, evoked no apparent surprise (as measured by
looking time) when they appeared in a novel location'' (42).
''The vervet 'leopard' alarm call is the conjunction of both _There is a leopard
nearby_ (the declarative or indicative aspect) and _Run up a tree_ (the
procedural or imperative aspect)'' (61), and Hurford appears to argue that this
is related to ''the distinction in public communication between declarative and
imperative acts, and the sentence-types conventionally associated with them in
the languages of the world has...ancient roots in the co-involvement (in varying
proportions) of sensory and motor components in primitive proto-concepts'' (64).
Mirror-neurons, by which ''the brain of an observing animal [is] in the same kind
of partly similar state to that of the observed animal'', suggest to Hurford ''the
beginnings of the kind of empathy required in communication at the level of
human language'' (61).
Chapter 3, ''A New Kind of Memory Evolves'', argues for ''the faint beginnings'' in
some animals of ''an ability to store two kinds of information, semantic and
episodic'' (87). ''Episodic memory comes onstream after the beginnings of language
in normal children. But it also seems that having a language is not a
prerequisite''; Helen Keller, at least, had memories of her pre-linguistic life
(69). A chimpanzee led a person to places where it had seen food hidden days
earlier, and gorillas similarly, at least 24 hours later (72). Rats return,
after ''a little while'', to where they broke off search for food in a maze, and
know which arms of the maze they have already searched. The more arms to the
maze, the better their memory: they seem to have not just retrospective but
prospective memory, having no need to remember so well if the maze is simple (77).
Chapter 4, ''Animals Form Proto-propositions'', argues ''that non-human animals are
capable of representing propositions, which do respect a separation between
logical predicate and argument'', and that deictic reference is rudimentarily
present in pointing. Hurford argues that ''humans and a range of animals'' have
''strikingly similar basic (i.e. non-linguistic) numerical abilities'', with a
''primitive limit of about four'' (91-2) (reducing by 3 Miller's (1956) ''magical
Animal prelinguistic propositions are said to be based on two aspects of the
visual system, in which the 'where-stream', dorsal pathway, ''takes signals from
the retina, via several intermediate stations, to posterior parietal cortex,
where motor responses are triggered directing saccades...or head-turning'', which
brings an object into focal vision. ''Now the 'what stream', ventral pathway,
kicks in. Information from the retina is also routed, by the ventral stream, to
the infero-termporal cortex and beyond, where it is acted upon by the kinds of
classificatory mechanisms'' (100). ''An animal seeing a lizard on a rock globally
perceives an 'on-ness situation'... ON or some other appropriate translation, is
a one-place predicate applying to the whole situation or scene, and...the rock
and the lizard can be expressed by individual (one-place) properties of each''
(105). Local attention converts scenes received in global attention into
one-place predicate-object relations.
Chapter 5, ''Towards Human Semantics'' develops formalities of the argument for
animal propositions, simplified from those of formal semantics, so that
BRUTUS(x) & CAESAR(y) & STAB(x,y) is [STAB [PATIENT CAESAR] [AGENT BRUTUS] ]
(147); i.e, variables such as x and y and orderedness of variables (vs. roles as
predicates) are thought unnecessary or obtuse, for us as well as animals.
(Hurford has boxes for the square brackets used here.) Regarding the
hypothetical animal scene [THREE [COW] [COW] [COW] ], Hurford says ''the
two-level outer/inner distinction, corresponding to objects in a scene'', is ''the
only iconic aspect of this notation'' - but the repetition of COW is also iconic.
''Animals' mental representations of scenes and events are rooted in perception.
It follows that concepts that are not rather directly based on perception (or
proprioception) will have no terms for them'', for example definite/indefinite,
active/passive (154), and nominal/verbal expression; no difference between
objects and events (158), or between subjects and predicates (162); x destroyed
y = x's destruction of y, and MARY(x) & SCRATCH(x) is just [MARY SCRATCH]. With
the simplified notation, ''evolutionary continuity between non-humans and humans
becomes easier to envisage'' (164).
Part 2, ''Communication: What and Why?'' concerns the interpersonal bases of
animal prelinguistic meaning, i.e., 'pragmatics' (in contrast to 'semantics' of
Part 1). The argument is that animal societies had to evolve trust, and reason
to believe that talk would be worthwhile; as such, talk was selective. Hurford
notes that both Part I ''exploring prior representational systems in relation to
human semantics, and [Part II] exploring the communicative abilities of animals''
(177), give support, respectively, to the Chomskian notion of language as a
representational system, and the tradition of language as communication.
Chapter 6, ''Communication by Dyadic Acts'', is about 'non-referring' utterances,
involving only a sender and receiver. ''A form of communication exists because
the producer of the signal normally gets some benefit from it. So we should look
for precursors of human-to-human communication in behaviours that benefit the
signaler'' (168), and such ''communicative acts are made of the same stuff as
non-communicative acts'', for example a cough, ''to get attention'', but which also
just clears the throat. Such speech is pure 'act', lacking truth value: _hello_
'greeting', _bye_ 'leave taking', _hey_ 'attention getting', etc. Interestingly,
some of these English words may lack vowels (_hmm_ 'doubt'), and have clicks
(_tsk tsk_) (171). Hurford supposes that ''the first communicative acts between
remote ancestors of modern humans were of such purely illocutionary variety''
(175), although these are of marginal importance in languages today.
''Signals that are distinctive of social subgroups within a breeding species must
be passed on through learning... chimpanzees may actively modify pant hoots to
be different from their neighbors'' (181). A 'signature call' expressing 'Here I
am' might be learned, or just have individual characteristics, like human
laughter, but ''it is probable that uniquely complex human language could not
have evolved without the social ritualized doing-things-to-each-other
scaffolding found in many other social species, including our nearest relatives,
the primates'' (185). Of 42 species surveyed, that ''with both the largest typical
group size (125) and the largest vocal repertoire (38 calls) was the bonobos''
The ''gestural repertoire and communicative dynamics'' of rhesus and pigtail
macaques ''are generally consistent with the characteristics of their social
organization''; the rhesus are ''despotic and nepotistic'', lacking ''complex
patterns of affiliative communication and bonding'', whereas pigtail macaques
have ''intense affiliation and bonding patterns'' which ''appear to have coevolved
with complex dynamics of intragroup cooperation and with considerable social
tolerance'' (190). When rhesus and stumptail macaques share living space in
captivity, the rhesus acquire the ''reconciliation behaviour'' of the stumptails
(190, footnote). ''In their sexual arrangements, humans most closely resemble
bonobos... The fluidity of bonobo society means that there is a relatively high
amount of interpersonal communication, including a lot of communication around
sex acts'' (194).
Mating pattern, however, may be inherited: ''Alteration of a single gene
transforms a vole of a naturally promiscuous species into a monogamously
inclined vole'' (192). Required are ''conditions that seem most likely to have
given rise to the group-wide reciprocal social purposes for which humans use
language...: large group size, relatively egalitarian individualistic social
structure, and a long period of infant or child dependency'' (197), the latter
providing opportunity for learning.
''The instinct to imitate is shared by humans and chimpanzees, but humans have
developed it further. It is also evident that latent imitative dispositions in
chimpanzees are drawn out more readily in captivity than in the wild'' (201).
''Chimpanzees who had discovered their own method of solving a practical problem''
subsequently followed the method of their companions. ''Chimpanzees, sensibly
enough, can't see as much point as children in pure imitation for its own sake,
with no immediate reward... The energy used in imitation by [human] infants is a
kind of long-term investment, or, in an alternative metaphor, the price of an
entry ticket into a game played with arbitrary symbols'' (203).
Chapter 7, ''Going Triadic: Precursors of Reference'', examines gaze-following as
first evidence of the empathy which makes communication possible, and pointing
as the first evidence of a 'triadic' sign, which involves something other than
sender and receiver. It seems that all great apes follow the gaze of others
(205). Pointing, however, while ''commonplace in captive chimpanzees'' is
''virtually absent in wild chimpanzees'' (212), suggesting readiness for, if not
the practice of, referential expression. Hurford supposes the difference in
captivity is owed to their being out of the food-and-sex-competitive environment
of the wild; ''as they register in the wild who is dominant and who is
subordinate, they register in captivity which humans are considerate towards
them and which are not, and adjust their behaviour accordingly'', for example
using requests, as in 96% of Kanzi's signings (217). Dogs are well up on
chimpanzees in this regard, being ''more skillful than great apes at a number of
tasks in which they must read human communicative signals indicating the
location of hidden food'' (218). In humans, ''a link between pointing and speech
development appears evident... [T]he age of onset of pointing and its frequency
at 12 months predicts the amount of speech in production at 15 months and also
at 24 months'' (220-1).
Hurford discusses game-theoretic evidence that evolution of human(istic)
communication presupposes a degree of altruism, presence of which enables
''home-reared apes to act somewhat cooperatively with their human keepers, in
this environment where cooperation [vs. competition] is the norm'' (223).
The growl of a leopard heard 5 minutes after the leopard call of the Diana
monkey produces a lesser response in members of the species than such growl
heard after an eagle alarm; that is, the alarm call produces not just a
momentary instinctive response, but is held in memory (227). There is evidence
of learning: with maturity, vervets get better both at sending and receiving
alarm calls; as youngsters, they overgive the alarm, for non-predators e.g.
warthogs, and their response to the calls is ''more generalized''. They give the
calls less often when alone, but presence of conspecifics could be ''part of the
complex of stimuli to which an innate automatic alarm-calling mechanism
Hurford describes the research of Boysen et al (1996), suggestive of the
significance for language of the symbolicness (arbitrariness) of signs.
Chimpanzees were ''successfully trained in the meanings of the symbols 1-6, so
they knew that 2 signifies a smaller number than 6'' then ''were trained...to
perform a counterintuitive task in which selection of a lower-valued of a
presented pair of symbols resulted in being given a food reward proportional to
the higher-valued symbol'': presented with '2' and '6', choose '2' and receive 6
pieces of food. They learned to choose the lower-valued numeral to receive the
greater amount of food. If, instead, different numbers of pieces of food are
presented, they fail utterly (238). As Hurford says (240), ''humans have evolved
an ability to detach their overt physical responses to signals from direct
action responding to the referents of the signals'', which recalls the more vivid
words of Huxley (1977: 172): ''Human beings...thanks to language, are able to
pursue one purpose or to act in relation to a principle or to an ideal over long
periods of time. In a certain sense we can say that language is a device for
permitting human beings to go on doing in cold blood the good and the evil which
it is possible for animals to do only in hot blood, under the influence of passion.''
Hurford suggests that planning may have been selective, by ''a co-evolutionary
feedback cycle between an enhancement of ability to plan for predator-avoidance
and food-getting and a decrease in the immediacy of survival pressures'' (240);
''the quantitative dispositional differences (admittedly great) between humans
and apes... can be accounted for by gradual change under pressure from social
arrangements conducive to free exchange of information'' (242).
Ch. 8, ''Why Communicate? Squaring with Evolutionary Theory'', develops arguments
for the social environment needed for language to arise. This is in addition to
two cognitive needs already identified and thought satisfied in animals, if
undeveloped: 'symbolic vocabulary' and 'deictic/symbolic integration' (using the
vocabulary referentially, probably at first with pointing). The cognitive needs
depend on the social, because they ''can only take off if the animals concerned
are disposed to give each other information'' (242).
Grice's 1967 Principle of Cooperation and Sperber and Wilson's 1986 Relevance
Theory contain the gist of what must have been needed, a sort of mind reading;
and ''...figuring out the intentions of others is not a uniquely human attribute''
(253). A chimpanzee, for example, seeing another make a move towards food
accelerates its own movement, and may copulate behind a rock to avoid being seen
by a dominant male.
However, 86% of banana giving among wild chimpanzees was between mother and
offspring (256), so the necessary altruism has to start among kin. In human
murders, in fact, ''unrelated cohabitants are at dramatically higher risk than
related cohabitants'', and ''universal kinship systems'', in which all members of a
social group are or are thought to be kin, ''are widespread, especially among
hunter-gatherers'' (262). Species that don't show a lot of cooperative behavior
can acquire it: blue jays ''figured out very quickly what was to their own
individual advantage'': to cooperate in key pressing, which yielded more food for
Sexual selection of communication (attracting better mates), as apparently in
birdsong, doesn't seem relevant in the human context, where we acquire language
as children, ''before...traits associated with sexual attraction come onstream'',
though male voice lowering at puberty may argue otherwise (284); nor does
recursion at all appear to be sexually selective (285), although it might once
have been. While DNA is the 'replicator' in natural selection, the individual is
its 'vehicle', and ''the social group is the survival vehicle of its individual
members'' (295). Cooperative communication including altruism is reasonably a
selective trait of social groups.
Altruism can evolve in ''groups of individuals living close and sharing
observable traits identifying them as appropriate recipients of altruism'', e.g.
dialect, a ''badge of group membership'', which can explain why dialects are
acquired early to the (near) exclusion of late: to keep out imposters (301),
which ''gets us close to a scenario of the co-evolution of cooperative/altruistic
communication with the learned communicative code itself as a group identity
tag.'' And to distance one group from another: thus the ''many different
manifestations of language'' (302).
Chapter 9, ''Cooperation, Fair Play, and Trust in Primates'', ''examine[s] the
extent to which behaviour reflecting any kind of social contract exists among
primates'' (307), because ''a cohesive social group...could be a unit of
selection'' (306). Hurford believes an ape has a rudimentary ''theory of mind'',
having some notion that ''other creatures (usually conspecifics) go through the
same mental processes as it does'' (307). In one experiment, a subordinate
chimpanzee could see which one of two pieces of food a dominant chimpanzee could
see. Released into the cage, it ''chose to go'' to that which the dominant could
not see. ''Chimpanzees are better than capuchin monkeys'' in this circumstance
(311). Zoo workers readily rate their chimpanzee charges in helpfulness
(cooperativeness), among other personality characteristics, and Hurford says
such ''variability, of course, is the fuel of natural selection'' (313).
Hurford quotes Tomasello et al (2005) that ''it is almost unimaginable that two
chimpanzees might spontaneously do something as simple as carry something
together''; they lack ''shared intentionality'' (316). Group hunting by e.g. wolves
and chimpanzees doesn't count; each animal just does its thing, with full
context boundedness. Hurford wonders if ''a system of learned arbitrary symbols,
such as humans use, [could] evolve in a community where the individuals were not
disposed to participate in shared tasks, having tacitly divined the intentions
of others'' (320).
Macaques, in fact, punish others who keep their food finds to themselves, and
chimpanzees ''from a more stable and long-lasting social group were more tolerant
of others receiving better rewards'' (323). Interesting new evidence concerns
oxytocin, ''a neuro-peptide that plays a key role in social attachment and
affiliation in non-human mammals''. Even in an investment game played by humans,
intranasal administration of oxytocin ''causes a substantial increase'' in
trusting behavior (327).
Chapter 10, ''Epilogue and Prologue'', expresses the conclusion that, in the wild,
apes have ''quite a lot going on in their heads'', indeed ''rich mental lives''.
Captivity and cooperative lives with humans brings out latent possibilities
(333), all of which Hurford considers significantly explanatory of possibility
for the appearance of language in humans, though of course mysteries remain,
including ''why humans and not others.'' Volume 2 will concern ''the cascade of
consequences'' which, ''as soon as the breakthrough was made for animals to
communicate their thoughts relatively freely to others,... were selected,
designed to make the transfer of information more effective, and allowing humans
to enrich their mental representations by thinking about the representations
All this is admirably persuasive and thought provoking, and puzzling largely to
the extent that it raises questions the answers to which may be hoped for in the
forthcoming Volume 2. Perhaps in the present volume something of worth might
have been said, at least anticipatorily, about the societal structures and
cooperative activities of present-day and hypothetical early-human
hunter-gatherer societies. Particularly the pre-agricultural knowledge of
plants, in the discovering and preserving of facts about their use, seasonality,
and location, all critical cultural knowledge, must have been a strong impetus
to the use of propositional language.
Also, the apparent division of the two volumes into origin of meaning and origin
of form perhaps separates actually inseparable meaning and form aspects of the
sign, as insisted by Saussure and often since thought essential to the nature of
the sign. Perhaps volume 2 on origin of form is going to connect or unify these,
or show how one aspect or the other is original, or how the two coevolved but
Finally, some might question Hurford's utter commitment to mentalism, ''that the
relationship of meaning between language and the world is indirect, and is
mediated by the mind, which is host to such things as concepts, ideas and
thoughts'' (5). Hurford argues that animals have minds (51, 308-9); but never
questions the extent to which these must be attributed to humans.
In addition to these general remarks, I have two specific ones. First, Hurford
describes pointing as ''largely'' indexical, with the qualification owed to ''the
difficulty of imposing Peirce (1897/1955)'s trichotomy icon/index/symbol in a
completely watertight way'' (225). In fact, Peirce's definition may be sufficient
that pointing is exactly indexical: ''a sign which refers to the Object that it
denotes by virtue of being really affected by that Object''. Non-rhetorical
pointing is useless unless the object is REALLY pointed to. ''Deictic words such
as _this_ and _here_ are, besides being indexical, also symbolic, having only
arbitrary relationship to their meanings, and needing to be learned in each
separate language'' (225). 'Indexical' here seems to mean 'demonstrative,
pointing' - not the Peircean sense. _This_ and _here_, by the way, while
entirely symbolic in usage (Peirce: ''denotes by virtue of a law''), have long
been noted to have a seeming indexical aspect, perhaps from their origin, having
in many languages high (in-pointing) vowels vs. low (away-pointing) vowels of
their opposites (_that_, _there_); examples are many, e.g. Amharic [yih] 'this',
[izzih] 'here' ([ya] 'that', [izzya] 'there'). The probable iconic/indexical raw
origin of words was argued in Plato's Cratylus: ''That objects should be imitated
in letters and syllables, and so find expression, may appear ridiculous,...but
it cannot be avoided - There is no better principle to which we can look for the
truth of first names. Deprived of this, we must have recourse to divine help,
like the tragic poets'' (Salus 1969: 58). This may be important in the
evolutionary appearance of language, for it means that we have no need to insist
therein on the symbolicness of signs, as perhaps does Hurford (236).
Arbitrariness will arise within few generations of imperfect imitation, or
'emulation' in Hurford's term (199). Even non-concrete meanings could originally
have indexical aspects, and it seems reasonable that the vervet's leopard
(bark), eagle (cough), and snake (chutter) calls would also have started out
Second, on at least one occasion, Hurford's interpretation of the evidence falls
short of fully satisfactory. For example, bonobo chimpanzees and orangutans are
said to stash tools needed for searches as much as 14 hours later, so ''some kind
of representation of where the animal wants to be in the immediate future seems
to be involved'' (77). But such result needs to be compared with that in which
use of the tools was not expected; otherwise they are just associating the tools
with food and acting accordingly. Also, evident surprise by a babboon on hearing
a ''recording of a dominant babboon making a submissive noise'' is said (81) to
''demonstrate knowledge of a social fact, who-dominates-whom'', which needs to be
contrasted with surprise at other simply odd events.
I noted only 11 typographical or form errors, none of which might confound a
reader. Hurford's preference for writing e.g. ''Frege (1879)'s'' vs. ''Frege's
(1879)'' is obviously deliberate if questionable.
Boysen, S. T., G. G. Berntson, M. B. Hannan, and J. T. Cacioppo. 1996.
Quantity-based interference and symbolic representations in chimpanzees (Pan
troglodytes). _Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes_
Chomsky, Noam. 2006. _Language and Mind_, 3rd. ed. Cambridge: Cambridge
Dennett, Daniel. 1991. _Consciousness Explained_. Boston: Little, Brown.
Dobzhansky, Theodosius. 1973. _Nothing in biology makes sense except in the
light of evolution_. The American Biology Teacher 35: 125-129.
Heine, Bernd and Tania Kuteva. 2007. _The Genesis of Grammar_. Oxford: Oxford
Huxley, Aldous. 1977. _The Human Situation: Lectures at Santa Barbara, 1959_.
New York: Harper & Row.
Miller, George A. 1956. The magical number 7 plus or minus 2. _Psychological
Review_ 63: 81-97.
Peirce, Charles S. 1955 . Logic as semiotic: the theory of signs. In
_Philosophical Writings of Peirce_, Justus Buchler, ed., 98-119. New York: Dover.
Pinker, Steven. 2003. Language as an adaptation to the cognitive niche. In
_Language Evolution_, Morton H. Christiansen and Simon Kirby, eds., 16-37. New
York: Oxford University Press.
Salus, Peter, ed. 1969. _On Language: Plato to von Humboldt_. New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston.
Tomasello, M. M. Carpenter, J. Call, T. Behne, and H. Moll. 2005. Understanding
and sharing intentions: the origins of cultural cognition. _Behavioral and Brain
Sciences_ 28: 675-735.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Grover Hudson has taught phonology, historical linguistics, and Ethiopian
linguistics incuding Amharic language at Michigan State University. He is author
of a comparative historical dictionary of Highland East Cushitic languages, an
introductory linguistics textbook, with Anbessa Teferra a recent book on
Amharic, and numerous articles on phonology and Ethiopian linguistics, including
recently on archaic traits in Ethiopian Semitic languages.
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