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, Origin of
Douglas C. Broadfield
Language represents a fundamental character of modern humans, Homo sapiens . All animals engage in some form of communication. For example, single-cell organisms may relate to individuals around them via chemicals, whereas birds prefer more vocal communication. Researchers who study communication in nonhuman animals, such as Sue Savage-Rumbaugh (in bonobos) and Irene Pepperberg (in parrots), may argue that human communication skills are not very different from those of some animals. However, researchers continue to debate the question of whether any species other than humans are capable of language, although there does appear to be a significant difference between animal communication and human language. Human language evolved over the course of several million years through the modification of the hands, larynx, and brain, arising as an elaborate form of gestural communication in the ancestor of apes and humans to become the vocal communication observed throughout cultures today. Communication, which all forms ...