? Polygenesis, Out of Africa

X99Lynx at aol.com X99Lynx at aol.com
Tue Aug 24 12:12:54 UTC 1999

In a message dated 8/24/99 12:47:24 AM, rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu wrote:
<<If Neandertals had language, that would presuppose that language went back
to a common ancestor with modern humans.>>

No, we don't have to presuppose that.  Language as a cultural feature could
have arisen independently with the Neanderthals.

<<Without a genetic ability for language, humans could not have picked up
language from Neandertals anymore than a chimp or a gorilla could.>>

I think that this might be your problem here.  At this point, we have no idea
when a genetic ability for language would have 'emerged' (technical term.)
In fact, we don't even know what one would look like - though people have
been looking for physiological attributes for awhile.  Humans quite before
Neanderthal apparently had the 'brains' for it.  The Duke group offered
plausible evidence that Neanderthals had the physical ability in their jaws
and mouths to 'speak' with the complexity required to emit human 'language'
sounds, which apes don't have.  This work is not really statistically settled.

Right now, it remains that by far the #1 way to identify "a genetic ability
for language" is to find language spoken.  Otherwise, there is nothing to be
gained by using those terms in this context.

Steve Long

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