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From Hand to Mouth


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Table of Contents

Preface vii Acknowledgments xi Chapter 1. What Is Language? 1 Chapter 2. Do Animals Have Language? 21 Chapter 3. In the Beginning Was the Gesture 41 Chapter 4. On Our Own Two Feet 66 Chapter 5. Becoming Human 82 Chapter 6. Signed Language 102 Chapter 7. It's All Talk 126 Chapter 8. Why Are We Lopsided? 159 Chapter 9. From Hand to Mouth 184 Chapter 10. Synopsis 213 References 221 Index 247

Promotional Information

A lively and well constructed read that bravely tackles head-on the tough question of where language came from. Corballis intriguingly concludes that this unique human property has gestural rather than vocal origins; and along the way he explores numerous fascinating byways that make this a must read for everyone interested in how humans became the extraordinary creatures they are. -- Ian Tattersall, American Museum of Natural History, author of "Extinct Humans and The Fossil Trail" Michael Corballis has accomplished a Herculean task. Reviewing and synthesizing data from a range of disciplines, he has woven it all into a book that is at once enjoyable and easy to read and yet faithful to the complexity of the subject matter. While this is admittedly a provocative work, the author has marshaled considerable evidence in support of his thesis. Indeed, he has done all of us a great service by raising the level of discussion surrounding this controversial topic. This is no small accomplishment. -- Sherman Wilcox, University of New Mexico, General Editor, "Evolution of Communication" A fascinating journey along the evolutionary path that 'converted us from wild gesticulators to smooth talkers.' On the path we pass our ape-like ancestors, the change to bipedalism, increase in brain size, gestures, the anatomical requirements for vocalization, and finally the spoken language. -- Lewis Wolpert, University College London

About the Author

Michael C. Corballis is Professor of Psychology and a member of the Research Center for Cognitive Science at the University of Auckland. He is the author of three books, including "The Lopsided Ape", and coeditor of "The Descent of Mind". His work has appeared in "Science","Nature", Scientific American", and "American Scientist".


"Provocative... The gestural theory makes for a captivating story."--Emily Eakin, New York Times "From Hand to Mouth is informative and entertaining... [It] will raise awareness about the importance of gestures and the crucial role they play in communicative interactions."--Dario Maestripieri, American Scientist "Corballis makes the case that the evolutionary origins of language are in gestures rather than in speech... An engaging story."--Choice "An engaging, highly readable and provocative account of the evolution of human language... In short, this is an important book on an important topic... From Hand to Mouth should be studied by everyone with a serious interest in the origins of language and read by others who want an evolutionary account that is as entertaining as it is informative."--Joseph B. Hellige, Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society

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