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Selected Books by Edmund Blair Bolles

  • Galileo's Commandment: 2500 Years of Great Science Writing
  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

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A great post, with sweeping and clarifying vistas.
There's another dimension to linguistic selection, which is of course the growth and disappearance of languages. Although the "survival of the fittest" theme is obvious enough, it also shows the complexity of the issues involved. It is not grammatical fitness that is involved, but a whole array of historical and cultural circumstances involving civilization, economic stability and expansion, and a whole historical process. I suppose any evolutionary process studied in its contextual thickness and detail will be just as complex, which doesn't mean of course that significant tendencies and guiding processes shouldn't be highlighted.

Elizabeth Barrette

When I think about Darwin's research in conjunction with linguistics, it makes me consider the situation just before language emerged...

The capacity for language had to be present in order for language to exist. So, how long did the capacity exist before the language actually manifested?

Did language emerge pretty much all at once, as an ephiphany, in the style of "punctuated equilibrium" -- one generation, humanoid ancestors, and the next, talking humans? (The novel Darwin's Radio did a wonderful exploration of this.) Or did it evolve gradually, a slow expansion of animal sounds to express ever-more-complex concepts?

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