Tag Archives: Evolution of Language

Evolution Of Language, The Symbolic Species (Terry Deacon)

Evolution of Language: Deacon vs. Pinker

In considering the evolution of human language, I think it is helpful to contrast these two books, and the ideas presented in them:

Terrence Deacon’s “<The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain


Stephen Pinker’s “The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (P.S.)

Neither book is exceptionally new, and in fact, Pinker has cranked out a number of books since The Language Instinct. However, I think The Language Instinct is the best of Pinker’s volumes for this discussion. In it, he lays out the basic evolutionary psychology argument in a way that is most directly contrasted with the ideas in Deacon’s. Also, The Language Instinct has a great chapter called (if memory serves) “The Language Mavens” which is worth reading whether or not you agree with or even like the rest of Pinker’s book.

Continue reading Evolution of Language: Deacon vs. Pinker