How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it? Rudolf Botha addresses this intriguing question in his fascinating new book. Inferences can be drawn about language evolution from a range of other phenomena, serving as windows into this prehistoric process. These include shell-beads, fossil skulls and ancestral brains, modern pidgin and creole languages, homesign systems and emergent sign languages, modern motherese, language use of modern hunter-gatherers, first language acquisition, similarities between language and music, and comparative animal behaviour. The first systematic analysis of the Windows Approach, it will be of interest to students and researchers in many disciplines, including anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, palaeontology and primatology, as well as anyone interested in how language evolved.
Rudolf Botha is Emeritus Professor of General Linguistics at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and Honorary Professor of Linguistics at Utrecht Institute of Linguistics, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
Part I. Preliminaries: 1. The Windows Approach; 2. Conceptual foundations of the approach; Part II. Correlate Windows: 3. Sea shells, ancient beads, and Middle Stone Age symbols; 4. Fossil skulls and ancestral brains; Part III. Analogue Windows: 5. Incipient pidgins and creoles; 6. Homesign systems and emergent sign languages; 7. Modern motherese; 8. Hunter-gatherers' use of language; 9. Language acquisition; Part IV. Abduction Windows: 10. Modern music and language; 11. Comparative animal behaviour; Part V. Epilogue: 12. A tool fit for demystifying language evolution?