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An argument over the evolution of language, with high stakes

Thursday, June 7, 2018  
Posted by: Dana Walker
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SPEECH leaves no fossils, so palaeoanthropologists have no direct evidence for the

 

emergence of the quintessential human trait: language. Many scholars work on the topic nonetheless, but few of their findings have achieved consensus.

On one thing, at least, most agree: though animals communicate, only humans have true language, with the power to organize complex thoughts into a string of words, often about absent or abstract things. And most scholars also reckon that Homo sapiens is the only species ever to have had such language. They think it must have emerged somewhere between 200,000 and 50,000 years ago.

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