The Language Puzzle: How We Talked Our Way Out of the Stone Age (Hardback)
  • The Language Puzzle: How We Talked Our Way Out of the Stone Age (Hardback)
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The Language Puzzle: How We Talked Our Way Out of the Stone Age (Hardback)

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£25.00
Hardback 544 Pages
Published: 07/03/2024
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'A tour de force' Alice Roberts

'Wonderful ... A remarkably comprehensive biography of the single most important thing we all share - language' Robin Dunbar

The relationship between language, thought and culture is of concern to anyone with an interest in what it means to be human.

The Language Puzzle explains how the invention of words at 1.6 million years ago began the evolution of human language from the ape-like calls of our earliest ancestors to our capabilities of today, with over 6000 languages in the world and each of us knowing over 50,000 words.

Drawing on the latest discoveries in archaeology, linguistics, psychology, and genetics, Steven Mithen reconstructs the steps by which language evolved; he explains how it transformed the nature of thought and culture, and how we talked our way out of the Stone Age into the world of farming and swiftly into today's Digital Age.

While this radical new work is not shy to reject outdated ideas about language, it builds bridges between disciplines to forge a new synthesis for the evolution of language that will find widespread acceptance as a new standard account for how humanity began.

Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781800811584
Number of pages: 544
Weight: 760 g
Dimensions: 150 x 236 x 43 mm
Edition: Main


MEDIA REVIEWS

A fascinating history of ideas and a masterful synthesis of the latest insights from linguistics, archaeology, genetics, neuroscience and AI - providing us with a compelling theory of the evolution of language. The Language Puzzle is a tour de force - Alice Roberts, Professor of Public Engagement in Science at University of Birmingham and author, Ancestors: A prehistory of Britain in seven burials

An epic achievement that, more than any other book out there, rises to the challenge of elucidating the immense complexity that underpinned the emergence and evolution of human language ... keeps the reader deliciously hanging on - Dean Falk, Hale G. Smith Professor of Anthropology at Florida State University and author, The Fossil Chronicles

A remarkably comprehensive biography of the single most important thing we all share - language - written with Mithen's wonderful ability to combine deep insights with a story engagingly told - Robin Dunbar, anthropologist and author, Friends: Understanding the Power of Our Most Important Relationships

An authoritative, dense yet accessible synthesis, The Language Puzzle is a superbly up-to-date guide to the complex and variegated evolution of language. Encompassing a huge and multidisciplinary scope of knowledge and covering some 5 million years, this fascinating book shows that asking how and why we came to speak also means exploring what it is to be human - Rebecca Wragg Sykes, archaeologist and author, Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art

Relating the evolution of the human lineage while attempting to integrate linguistics, genetics, archeology, and semiotics in proposing a holistic explanation for language evolution is no small task. However, in this remarkably accessible narrative, Mithen weaves a thoughtful and engaging account across time, bodies, places, and materials. Whether or not one agrees, in total or in part, with the assumptions and assertions in the book, it offers a bounty of valuable insights and has much to teach us all - Agustín Fuentes, author, The Creative Spark

How humans acquired their most important and mysterious mental skill remains a fascinating mystery. Steven Mithen describes the leading clues from diverse sources so clearly that The Language Puzzle is a sleuth's equivalent to one-stop shopping. The origin of language is beginning to look like a solvable problem - Richard Wrangham, author, Catching Fire

The enduring mystery of how humans learned to speak [is] a romantic tale - Anjana Ahuja, FT

Takes the reader on a whirlwind journey through many disparate disciplines, generously dispersing interesting tidbits and ideas along the way - Sarah Wild, TLS

Extraordinary ... a page-turning dive into the mysteries of human communication - Buzz

Mithen ... combines lucid prose with a lifetime of experience in this compendious exploration of linguistics, anthropology, neuroscience, geography, genetics, and philosophy ... An expert education into "the most fundamental aspect of the modern mind - Kirkus Reviews

Fascinating ... In down-to-earth prose, Mithen weaves a wealth of genetic, linguistic, and paleoanthropological research into a coherent tapestry, with surprising revelations about Stone Age communication as well as present-day language ... A stimulating inquiry into the origins of language - Publishers Weekly

Praise for The Singing Neanderthals: 'Illuminating and thought-provoking - The Times

The most perspicacious portrait of the role of communication among our remote predecessors that I have ever encountered ... A landmark book - New York Review of Books

Wonderfully evocative ... A highly original view of our musical origins - Guardian

A book that has you making up your own theories about how grunts became speech and songs - Doris Lessing

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“A history of language”

Beginning with a brief history of humankind, and concluding with the evolution of language with everything else on between, this is a detailed analysis of how language has changed and developed over time.

While there... More

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