Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Language and Biology
Both the biologist and the linguist are interested in how language evolved in the natural history of the human species. This process was embedded in the evolution of life from the first self-replicating macromolecules to the wealth of species living today on Earth. The evolutionary thinker hits, therefore, on a more fundamental question: Is human language the most complex realization of abstract principles that govern the processing of every kind of biological information? But let us start with the first question: How did language evolve in our natural history? There is not a single science that can answer this question; research on the natural history of language is an interdisciplinary project that must bring together linguists, neurobiologists, social anthropologists, and evolutionary theorists, among others. If we want to find the evolutionary origin of language, we need foremost a theory of what language is so that we can describe the relation ...