Re: Neanderthal "voice boxes"?

Dan Barnes (
Fri, 10 Jan 1997 15:05:19 GMT

In article <>, says...
>Dear Dan, I agree with you about the uncertainty involved in making any
>assumptions about the language abilities of neanderthals, indeed of any
>hominid who is no longer with us. Most of the work on this area seems to
>focus either on the artistic/symbolic abilities or shortcomings of the
>neanderthals (eg Marshack, Gargett and so on) or on the anatomical
>aspects, mainly the hyoid (with the articles you cited) or the
>basicranium and palate (Lieberman, Laitman etc). Both these types of
>studies are all well and good, but neither symbolic thought nor throat
>anatomy have proven, 100% correlations with the use of speech.

We may never fully know the answer to this question.

>Someone raised an interesting point a few threads up from here - about
>Bickerton's suggestion that the neanderthal brain was bigger than ours
>but less well organised, because they were using a large-vocabularied
>form of pidgin without any grammar. Thus the language was unweildy and
>needed a big brain just to do basic language. But the modern human had a
>better organised, grammatical language so needed less brainpower to do a
>lot more. This is an interesting idea, problems with it being of course
>that absolute brain size isn't directly proportional to
>brainpower (otherwise women wouldn't be as intelligent as men and that
>would never do!).

I still believe the better answer is climatic adaptation (Ruff, 1994) and the need
to control a larger body. More to do with the former rather than the latter although
there may have been a positive feedback.
>PS Dan Barnes wrote:
> - although I've heard that
>> Cavalli-Sforza reckons the Basque language is the last remnant of anything
>> approaching the Cro-Magon tongue.I heard it as C-S reckoned the Basques
>lves were the likely
>candidates for being the remnants of the original European Cro-Magnon
>population, if such a thing exists. Bet they were chuffed.

I suspect they are - at least it would give ETA (sp?) historical cause for their
struggle in a 'we were here first' kind of arguement.