Chapter 1 – Language: Essence & Origins

Wikis > Chapter 1 - Language: Essence & Origins

2015: Chan Wan Ting, Goh Rachael, Hzwani Bte Muhammad Rashid
2014: Tan Wei Jian, Samuel Ow Li Xuan, Viola Lim Xinyi



Language evolution, sometimes called biolinguistics (Jenkins, 1999; Givón, 2002), is the study of the origins of human language, within the theoretical framework of evolutionary biology spearheaded by Charles Darwin’s seminal 1859 publication The Origin of Species.

As a field of academic inquiry, it is highly interdisciplinary, attracting researchers from as diverse backgrounds as: anthropology, computer science, evolutionary biology, linguistics, molecular biology and neuroscience. However, before surveying the possible pathways from which language first appeared among humans, a thorough appreciation of its uniqueness, as a system of communication, and the evolutionary descent of humans, as a species, is crucial.

This blog therefore aims to provide students of language evolution with a concise summary of the evolutionary backdrop for the emergence of language – as an distinctly human communication system – by first examining itsnature (part 1), in terms of its particular features and components when compared to other animal communication systems, and then its evolution (part 2), in terms of the notable physical and cognitive evolutionary developments in humans which may have been crucial pre-requisites underlying our present linguistic ability.

A detailed breakdown of our blog’s contents is presented below. Happy reading!