LING2069 Origins of Language
Dr. Christophe Coupe
Advanced Course. Sem 1, 6 credits
How and why how human beings acquired language in prehistory is fundamental to an understanding of who we are today. This course adopts a broad perspective on language and approaches it as one communication system among others, which emerged in our ancestors under specific conditions, and for specific purpose(s). In the course, concepts and methods pertaining to various scientific fields beyond linguistics will be investigated, including paleo-anthropology, archaeology, ethology and comparative psychology. Students will first reflect on animal and human communication contrastively, as well as on attempts to teach language to apes and other animals. They will then consider the question of the origins of language, with the underlying evolutionary processes and the cues we have of our distant ancestors’ lives and communicative abilities. This will then be compared to other cases of language emergence such as creoles, sign languages, and artificial languages in experimental settings.
Course Timeslots (1)