Re: Early Hominid Languag

J. Moore (
Wed, 17 May 95 13:10:00 -0500

Pn> In article <3p9mo5$341@stud.Direct.CA>, Iboothby <iboothby@Direct.CA>
Pn> wrote:
Pn> > There have been a dozens of studies done suggesting that Australio's,
Pn> >early homo, and Neanderthals couldn't communicate as well vocally
Pn> >as we do. Fossil evidence suggests that their palletes were too flat
Pn> and
Pn> >their jaws were the wrong shape to communicate with the same
Pn> >vocal richness. As far as we know Homo Sapiens was the only member of
Pn> >our species who could do so.

Pn> At least with neandertals there are serious questions about the accuracy
Pn> of the reconstructions used to reach this conclusion. I would not be
Pn> too quick to rule them out of the language picture. The recent
Pn> discovery of a neaderthal hyloid bone has, I think, tilted the debate
Pn> back in favor of neaderthals.
Pn> --
Pn> Phil Nicholls

I think a large part of the problem has been the unspoken idea behind
all that that *if* they actually couldn't speak with the same "vocal
richness", that they didn't speak or have any language, and ignoring
that language is only a part of communication. (Actually we see most
everyday examples online of that fact that effective language is
sharply hindered when we're deprived of visual input -- we end up using
little smileys to try and make up for that problem, and they're really
primitive in their effectiveness compared to looking at someone's face
as they talk, or even their handwriting as they write.)

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find that we got better at
language as we went along during our evolution, but the first stuff that
came out on this subject, suggesting that Neandertals were necessarily
some sort of gibbering idiots, was way overdone. (They *might* have
been, but it didn't *necessarily* follow from the reconstruction

Jim Moore (

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