How did language begin? What was it like long ago?

Did we come up with meaningful utterances first and then break them down, or did we build language from the words up? Did other pre-humans have language?

Researchers are working on exactly these questions, and one of them is Dr Mark Ellison, who joins Daniel and Ben on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with James Hall


Show notes

People stayed on the Bering Strait for about 15,000 years.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/13/science/linguistic-study-sheds-new-light-on-peopling-of-north-america.html?hpw&rref=science&_r=2

Some went on to the Americas, becoming the Na-Dene language group. Others went back to Siberia, becoming the Yenesian group.
http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/anthropology/science-back-migration-native-americans-01804.html

Linguistics helped to trace this human migration.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-to-retrace-early-human-migrations-50762656/?no-ist

Here’s the paper in PLOS One.
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0091722

Mark Ellison’s paper from the conference (PPTX file)
http://comlab.me/ComLab/Presentations.html

Did Neanderthals have language? Link to Dan Dediu’s work
http://www.mpg.de/7448453/Neandertals-language

An Australian reference to the ‘sick tax’, earlier this year
http://www.unitedvoice.org.au/news/nothing-healthy-about-sick-tax

Here’s the chart from Google Trends.
https://www.google.com.au/trends/explore#q=sick%20tax

Google Ngram chart:


Show tunes

‘Past Lives’ by Real Estate
from the album Atlas

‘Kong’ by Bonobo
from the album Black Sands