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Recent studies of vocal development in infants have shed new light on old questions of how the speech capacity is founded and how it may have evolved in the human species. Vocalizations in the very first months of life appear to provide previously unrecognized clues to the earliest steps in the process by which language came to exist and the processes by which communicative disorders arise. Perhaps the most interesting sounds made by infants are the uniquely human 'protophones' (loosely, 'babbling'), the precursors to speech. Kimbrough Oller argues that these are most profitably interpreted in the context of a new infrastructural model of speech. The model details the manner in which well-formed speech units are constructed, and it reveals how infant vocalizations mature through the first months of life by increasingly adhering to the rules of well-formed speech. He lays out many advantages of an infrastructural approach. Infrastructural interpretation illuminates the significance of vocal stages, and highlights clinically significant deviations, such as the previously unnoticed delays in vocal development that occur in deaf infants. An infrastructural approach also specifies potential paths of evolution for vocal communicative systems. Infrastructural properties and principles of potential communicative systems prove to be organized according to a natural logic--some properties and principles naturally presuppose others. Consequently some paths of evolution are likely while others can be ruled out. An infrastructural analysis also provides a stable basis for comparisons across species, comparisons that show how human vocal capabilities outstrip those of their primate relatives even during the first months of human infancy. The Emergence of the Speech Capacity will challenge psychologists, linguists, speech pathologists, and primatologists alike to rethink the ways they categorize and describe communication. Oller's infraphonological model permits provocative reconceptualizations of the ways infant vocalizations progress systematically toward speech, insightful comparisons between speech and the vocal systems of other species, and fruitful speculations about the origins of language.
This book sets a high standard for rigor and scientific approach to the study of bilingualism and provides new insights regarding the critical issues of theory and practice, including the interdependence of linguistic knowledge in bilinguals, the role of socioeconomic status, the effect of different language usage patterns in the home, and the role of schooling by single-language immersion as opposed to systematic training in both home and target languages. The rich landscape of outcomes reported in the volume will provide a frame for interpretation and understanding of effects of bilingualism for years to come.
This book discusses evolution of the human brain, the origin of speech and language. It covers past and present perspectives on the contentious issue of the acquisition of the language capacity. Divided into two parts, this insightful work covers several characteristics of the human brain including the language-specific network, the size of the human brain, its lateralization of functions and interhemispheric integration, in particular the phonological loop. Aboitiz argues that it is the phonological loop that allowed us to increase our vocal memory capacity and to generate a shared semantic space that gave rise to modern language. The second part examines the neuroanatomy of the monkey brain, vocal learning birds like parrots, emergent evidence of vocal learning capacities in mammals, mirror neurons, and the ecological and social context in which speech evolved in our early ancestors. This book's interdisciplinary topic will appeal to scholars of psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, biology and history.
In a stimulating synthesis of cognitive science, anthropology, and linguistics, Philip Lieberman tackles the fundamental questions of human nature: How and why are human beings so different from other species? Can the Darwinian theory of evolution explain human linguistic and cognitive ability? How do our processes of language and thought differ from those of Homo erectus 500,000 years ago, or of the Neanderthals 35,000 years ago? What accounts for human moral sense? Lieberman believes that evolution for rapid, efficient vocal communication forged modern human beings by creating the modern human brain. Earlier hominids lacked fully human speech and syntax, which together allow us to convey complex thoughts rapidly. The author discusses how natural selection acted on older brain mechanisms to produce a structure that can regulate the motor activity necessary for speech and command the complex syntax that enhances the creativity of human language. The unique brain mechanisms underlying human language also enhance human cognitive ability, allowing us to derive abstract concepts and to plan complex activities. These factors are necessary for the development of true altruism and moral behavior. Lieberman supports his argument about the evolution of speech and the human brain by combining the comparative method of Charles Darwin, insights from archaeology and child development, and the results of high-tech research with computerized brain scanning and computer models that can recreate speech sounds made by our ancestors over 100,000 years ago. Uniquely Human will stimulate fresh thought and controversy on the basic question of how we came to be.
Dunlea's examination of the relationship between language and conceptual development is based on her analysis of the early language in a group of blind, partially sighted and fully sighted children who participated in a pioneering longitudinal study at the University of Southern California. In particular, the study reveals a convergence of early language and conceptual development. By focusing on the processes of development rather than merely describing the end products of language acquisition, the author not only identifies significant differences in blind and sighted children, but also offers new insights on semantic and pragmatic development in general.
The present volume is based on the proceedings of the Advanced Study Institute (ASI) sponsored by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Institute was conducted at the beautiful Chateau de Bonas, near Toulouse, France in October, 1991. A number of scholars from different countries participated in the two-week institute on differential diagnosis and treatments of reading and writing problems. The accepted papers for this volume are divided into three sections: (a) Differential diagnosis of reading disabilities; (b) Access to language-related component processes; and (c) Reading/spelling strategies. The other papers appear in a companion volume: Developmental and Acquired Dyslexia: Neuropsychological and Neurolinguistic Perspectives, also coedited by Joshi and Leong and published by Kluwer Academic Publishers. Several people and organizations have helped us in this endeavor and their assistance is gratefully acknowledged. Our special thanks are due to: the Scientific Affairs Division of NATO for providing the major portion of the financial support; Dr. L. V. da Cunha of NATO and Dr. THo Kester and Mrs. Barbara Kester of the International Transfer of Science and Technology (ITST) for their help and support of the various aspects of the institute; Mr. Charles Stockman and the entire staff of the Chateau de Bonas for making our stay a pleasant one by helping us to run the Institute smoothly. We also wish to thank our reviewers and the following people for other assistance: Christi Martin, and Xi-wu Fang.
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