© 2019

A Critical Introduction to Language Evolution

Current Controversies and Future Prospects


  • Includes critical discussion of the controversies surrounding language evolution

  • Provides a linguistic reconstruction detailing the earliest stages of grammar

  • Accessible to non-experts


Part of the SpringerBriefs in Linguistics book series (SBIL)

Also part of the Expert Briefs book sub series (SBEB)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Ljiljana Progovac
    Pages 1-13
  3. Ljiljana Progovac
    Pages 31-66

About this book


This book provides a critical introduction to the current views and controversies regarding language evolution. It sheds new light on hot topics such as: How ancient is language? Did Neanderthals have some form of language? Did language evolve gradually and incrementally, through stages, or suddenly, in one leap, in all its complexity? Does language evolution involve natural selection or not?


This book is essential reading for scholars and students interested in language evolution, especially those in the fields of linguistics, psychology, biology, anthropology, and neuroscience. 


Language evolution Earliest grammars Antiquity of language Neanderthal language Linguistic reconstruction Evolving syntax Hominin timeline

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Linguistics DepartmentWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title A Critical Introduction to Language Evolution
  • Book Subtitle Current Controversies and Future Prospects
  • Authors Ljiljana Progovac
  • Series Title SpringerBriefs in Linguistics
  • Series Abbreviated Title SpringerBriefs in Linguistics
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-03234-0
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-03235-7
  • Series ISSN 2197-0009
  • Series E-ISSN 2197-0017
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIV, 86
  • Number of Illustrations 17 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Language History
    Popular Science in Linguistics
    Linguistic Anthropology
    Cognitive Linguistics
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Using a brilliant collection of data from different fields, this book provides novel insights into the emergence and evolution of language. It is a solid contribution to the literature and a must read for anyone interested in language evolution. … this book by Progovac is a worthwhile addition to the body of knowledge, one that I enjoyed reading and one that stimulated my thinking about language evolution in new and hopefully productive ways.” (Majid Manoochehri, Evolutionary Psychological Science, Vol. 7, 2021)