Lieberman and Neanderthals

iffr762 at iffr762 at
Tue Jan 26 04:37:22 UTC 1999

	Lieberman says what he says on the basis of anatomy, obviously,
the idea being that due to Neanderthals having a more ape-like vocal tract
the range of possible vowels would be less than now occurs.  This does not
show that Neanderthals did not have language.  He is, I believe, guilty of
tautology, for in effect he defines "modern language" as what we can speak
but Neanderthals could not, yet winds up saying that Neanderthals did not
have modern language as if 1) it was not something true by his definition,
and 2) it meant that there was some sort of other impoverishment, perhaps
so severe that Neanderthals could be described as not having language in
any sense.  Apparently he hopes that by the time we reach his conclusions,
we will have forgotten his assumptions and definitions.  The argument is
fundamentally flawed.  At worst, it would take Neaderthals longer to say
things than it does us (fewer contrasts, longer words), but that is about


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