by Guy Deutscher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Dr. Deutscher has done a scholarly, thorough discussion on the roots of language, but I believe he started too late in time. I’m of the persuasion that language involves more than the spoken word. I find body language (which proponents argue communicate half of what we speak), facial expressions (think FACS, FBI, microexpressions), movement to be as telling of a person’s intentions as words. Sometimes more so.
Yet, he argues language was born when we could prove it was born–“…for how can anyone presume to know what went on in prehistoric times without indulging in make-believe?” “…impressive range of theories circulating for how the first words emerged: from shouts and calls; from hand gestures and sign language; from the ability to imitate…The point is that as long as there is no evidence, all these scenarios remain ‘just so’ stories.” Or deductive reasoning. Something the modern brain excels at. This despite the fact that his cover includes the popular ape-man image.
Still, he adds humor and a highly intelligent discussion I thoroughly enjoyed.