Understanding the Dynamics of Primate Vocalization and Its Implications for the Evolution of Human Speech

  • Takeshi Nishimura


The origin of language remains one of the most enigmatic issues for studies on human evolution and is a challenge that attracts many scholars. Any discussion of this issue has been taboo in traditional linguistics, but in the past ten years it has been examined productively through informatics, biology and cognitive science, as well as by using theoretical linguistics. The interested reader can consult the books edited by Wray (2002) and Christiansen and Kirby (2003) for details. Morphologists and paleoanthropologists have continued to debate this issue long before the successes of other disciplines. However, they have faced a great obstacle in their efforts: language per se cannot fossilize and leaves no archaeological traces. This is a great distinction in any starting point for paleontological studies on the origin of language and the other issues. For example, the evolution of habitual bipedal walking is accessible through examination of the cranial base, pelvis, leg or foot bones of fossil forms. Nevertheless, such diffi culties have never let the scholars abandon their ambitions to challenge the enigmas surrounding the origin and evolution of language, which has doubtless contributed to the unfolding of humanity and its civilizations.


Nonhuman Primate Vocal Tract Cranial Base Human Speech Pharyngeal Cavity 
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© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takeshi Nishimura
    • 1
  1. 1.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyama, AichiJapan

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