Cognitive Daily

New blog on the origin of speech

Science writer Edmund Blair Bolles has begun a new blog on the origin of speech: Babel’s Dawn. If it lives up to the promise of its first post, it may prove to be a valuable resource. The blog

aims to become the main source of news and information about the evolution of speech, from primate vocalizations to meaningful exchanges.

I say speech rather than language because speech is a concrete behavior while language is an abstraction. In order to speak our ancestors had to evolve all the general elements of language (e.g., the ability to utter words in syntactical form) along with the specific powers of making verbal sounds.


  1. #1 noahpoah
    September 19, 2006

    It’s nice to see what looks like it might be a good linguistic-y blog, and I like seeing the distinction between speech and language right off the bat. I’m a phonetician (more or less), and I find that it’s not always easy to remember to distinguish between the two, but it’s an important distinction, I think. A syntactician buddy of mine and I had an exchange about this (competence vs. performance, anyway) on our blogs recently, so it’s been on my mind.

  2. #2 Hoodia
    September 25, 2006

    Great topic, in my travels all across the world I have seen the desire fueled by the need to communicate to one another. Even in countries that I couldn’t speak the language I was still able to converse with those who were willing. I truly believe that it’s inherent and that no man was created to live all alone on an island. Ya Hoodia

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