Re: Crossing the language threshold was Re: First Language

Barry Mennen (
1 Sep 1995 16:33:09 GMT

In <425fnr$> (Marty Stoneman)
>Ralph T. Edwards ( wrote:
> [SNIP]
>: This seems more like differing category boundaries than truly
>: categories. But it raises an interesting question that I confess
>: ignorant
>: of, to what extent are word categories universals? Do all languages
>: categories corresponding to words (or subwords) of the follwoing
>: lion
>: water

>: I think we're talking about two different things. I'm talking about
>: the point at which humans first acquired speech and the brain, vocal
> and
>: perhaps auditory adaptations to support it.
>: I presume that this was more than 100,000 years ago.
>: I don't presume anything about whether there were one or multiple
>: origins, and looking at current language won't tell us anything
>: whether there were one or many origins 200,000 years ago. I did
express an
>: opinion that one origin seemed simpler. That's an OPINION not a
>: When I say merged, I'm implying that current physical adaptations
>: speech are a common attribute of modern humans that either had one
>: or resulted from the merger of multiple origins. If there was one
>: for the physical adaptations it implies to me one origin for the
>: aspect of language as well, if you know what I mean (the software as
>: to the hardware). I don't assume one or multiple origins.
> Throwing in my 2 cents worth to the argument of origins of speech

>in this thread, I believe that the huge brain growth in humans
>prior to Homo Sapiens, and I believe that most of the difference today

>between chimp and us is in areas for language. So, if any of those in

>this thread propose that Neanderthal had no language, what were the
>evolutionary factors involved in the big brain and what does Homo
>not do that Neanderthal did?
> Marty Stoneman


It is my understanding that the large size of Neandertal's braincase
was mainly in the occipital area ("occipital bun") where a large
cerebellum could be housed (Neand.'s large muscle mass would have
needed larger number of neurons coordinating the movement
which-partly-would have been located in cerebellum).

It is (with this organ too)not so much size but how it is used, ie,
organized. I think brain organization was already showing humanoid
direction in australopiths--

I am merely a physician by training and amateur at paleo anthr..could
some expert speak to these areas please?


Barry M.

and, ps--I think it would be astounding if Neand. had no language