LSA 111: Evolution of language

Michael Tomasello | session 1 | TuTh 3:30 – 5:15, 105 Stanley Hall

In this course we will explore the evolutionary foundations of human communication and language. The emphasis will be on the pragmatics of communication and its grounding in human cooperative activities more generally. There will also be an emphasis on the natural gestures of pointing and pantomiming as the jumping-off point for conventional linguistic communication. Major topics will thus be: (1) primate intentional communication; (2) human cooperative communication (esp. in gestures); (3) prelinguistic communication in children and the early ontogeny of language; (4) primate and human cooperation; (5) the cultural creation of conventions and constructions.

Reading: Michael Tomasello, Origins of Human Communication and selected materials available online.

Areas of linguistics: Language and thought; Language development and psycholinguistics; Sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology

Banner design by Laurie Caird