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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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José Landa

This is an excellent and enjoyable overview both of your theory and of some hundred thousand years of speech. As this post may signal some change of rhythm, let me take the opportunity to congratulate you for your blog and thank you for your valuable reflections and for your diffusion and explanation of other people's work on the subject.

One additional reflection on the "chirruping" phase of language. Besides the possible expressive, referential, and conative dimensions of that proto-linguistic speech, one should maybe stress the phatic/social dimension of human sounds. The distinctive sounds of human groups may have had an important dimension in stressing in-group ties, quite apart from any use to signify anything. Or, to put it otherwise, distinctive combinations of phonetic features, and characteristic combinations of phonemes, may have given rise to a number of local proto-languages or forms of speech, signalling group and sub-group kinship, an essential social function. To put it yet otherwise, the distinctive sounds, syllables and intonation patterns of the proto-languages may have directed joint attention to themselves, and thereby to a common group identity, besides signifying something. This would seem to be another dimension of joint attention, and one which might provide a bridge with the "chirruping" abilities of other species and their own social functions. The development of distinctive phonemes and syllables, and intonational patterns, would provide ready-made coinage for a number of additional semiotic functions, besides the signalling in-group identity.

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