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Academic Paper


Title: Join the dots: A musical interlude in the evolution of language?
Author: Maggie Tallerman
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/elll/staff/profile/maggie.tallerman
Institution: Newcastle University
Linguistic Field: Genetic Classification
Abstract: This review article examines the major premises concerning the evolution of language offered in Tecumseh Fitch's The Evolution of Language (2010). Various aspects of Fitch's argumentation are disputed, specifically including the idea that language was preceded in evolution by a musical protolanguage stage in which there were no words, but which instead exhibited a prosodic, meaningless ‘bare phonology’. According to Fitch, this putative stage in language evolution also laid the foundations for syntax, providing musical phrases which were subsequently filled by meaningful words. Counterarguments to these ideas are presented, and an alternative, word-based model of protolanguage is defended.

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This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 49, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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