Have linguists been hunting for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
The argument in favor of language beginning as personal thought is now dead and should be buried. What? You have always assumed language began as a tool for telling things to one another? You must be new to this blog. At the start of this month I posted a report on a paper by Bolhuis et al. that rehashes the argument that language began as a new and improved way of thinking. Speech and signing came only later when internal thinking was "externalized." Technically speaking, there was a mutation that improved the way an ancestor thought, making things like planning a whole lot easier. This mutation proved adaptive and was passed on to the descendants. Finally, one or more mutations led to the creation of an interface connecting thinking to motor actions so that the thoughts could be expressed publicly. It is tempting to admire the boldness of asserting such hooey, but in the end it is still hooey. Now someone has taken the trouble of refuting the thought-first hypothesis and the refutation is a doozy. I expect this and tomorrow's follow up to be my last posts discussing the thought-first hypothesis.