Re: Human Language. (long post)

John A. Halloran (
4 Jan 1997 14:36:00 -0700

In article <> Michael McBroom <> writes:

>Nonetheless, the fact that adult humans are the only animals in
>existence with a vocal tract that represents a health hazard when one
>does something as fundamental as eat and drink, points to the overriding
>importance that language has been to our progenitors.

This is a strong statement.

It assumes that symbolic language can be the only reason for increased
vocalization in genus homo. Other authors have pointed out that our ancestors
were hominids who began following a wolf-like existence, but without wolves'
olfactory equipment for determining group membership and marking territory.
The visual-auditory senses had to assume this role among hominids.

It would be interesting to compare the carrying distance of the adult male
human voice to that of non-hunting primate voices. The ability to vocalize
over long distances may be tied to the new wide-ranging hunting lifestyle of
humans. Human males in hunting cultures become hunters when their voices
deepen in adolescence. Low-frequency calls are able to travel longer
distances than are high-frequency calls.

Human brains are specialized to recognize individuals from their distinctive
voices. Hunting vocalizations did not have to be of the words of a symbolic


John Halloran