Language Acquisition and Ability in Early Hominids

Michael McBroom (McBroom)
5 Nov 1995 05:47:19 GMT

Hi all,

I'm a liguistics student who sometimes wishes he'd opted for
paleoanthropology instead, and am always looking for common ground as
a result. I'm especially interested in locating information regarding
language acquisition and ability in early hominids. I realize that
data is sketchy at best, since almost all of the articulatory sites
are comprised of soft tissue, but I do know there are a couple of
areas of the skull that are key indicators, as is the hyoid bone.

My understanding is that the Australopithicines probably had
rudimentary language skills at best, but that beginning with Homo
Habilis, something bordering on human-like communication was born.
It's my suspicion that the increased cranial capacity of Homo Habilis
as compared to that of the 'cines was directly associated with a
dramatic increase in language ability and the communication and
socialization skills that would go hand-in-hand with it. From that
point, language acquisition and ability would have become an adaptive
characteristic, leading to refinement in later species due to
selection pressures.

Sound plausible? Stale news? I'm interested in reading more about
this, so if you have any suggestions, I'd appreciate them.


Michael McBroom
CSUF Linguistics