Re: Origin and function of language

Phil Nicholls (
Sat, 29 Jun 1996 19:23:04 GMT

James Borrett (James Borrett <>) writes:

> Mark Leney wrote:
> I guess some AAHer will jump in here and say that
> > language replaced 'actual' social grooming due to the need to be
> > groomed physically as aresult of loss of hair/parasites from all that
> > paddling about in the water...well it's a thought.
> >

> All I would say here was that a semi-aquatic lifestyle would predipose
> towards the development of language because the apes would have evolved
> greater breath control for swimming and diving.

Language has very little to do with breath control. Language sounds
are made by using the mouth, lips and tongue to alter the shape of the
nasopharaygeal cavity and thus alter the sound made by the vibration
of the vocal cords. Most primates have enough vocal control to make
speech sounds and most anthropoid primates have enough control of
facial muscles, etc. to control the sounds. What they lack is a
descended larynx and the right neuroanatomy.

Note: Best indications are that early hominids didn't have a
descended larynx.

Phil Nicholls
"To ask a question you must first know most of the answer"
-Robert Sheckley