Selective scenarios for the emergence of natural language

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

55 Citations (Scopus)


The recent blossoming of evolutionary linguistics has resulted in a variety of theories that attempt to provide a selective scenario for the evolution of early language. However, their overabundance makes many researchers sceptical of such theorising. Here, we suggest that a more rigorous approach is needed towards their construction although, despite justified scepticism, there is no agreement as to the criteria that should be used to determine the validity of the various competing theories. We attempt to fill this gap by providing criteria upon which the various historical narratives can be judged. Although individually none of these criteria are highly constraining, taken together they could provide a useful evolutionary framework for thinking about the evolution of human language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-561
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2006


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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