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The evolution of human language. an alternative scenario
Journal Title: PARADIGMI 
Author/s: Francesco Suman, Telmo Pievani 
Year:  2015 Issue: Language: Italian 
Pages:  24 Pg. 173-196 FullText PDF:  100 KB
DOI:  10.3280/PARA2015-002011
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We develop Deacon’s (2010) proposal on the role of relaxed selection in the evolution of human language, providing a sound evolutionary background for it, within the human "Self-Domestication" hypothesis (Gibbons, 2014). We focus in particular on neotenic features of life-history traits and brain development, characteristics of modern Homo sapiens, suggesting that they could have spread in an ecological context in which some selective pressures were relaxed. We give an account of how such an ecological condition could have been reached in hominid evolution, relying on the feedback effects of niche construction processes, bringing the case of the use of fire. We provide some future possible directions in order to make our hypothesis testable, suggesting it could help solving some issues concerning human evolution and the evolution of language.
Keywords: Exaptation, Language evolution, Neoteny, Niche construction, Relaxed selection, Self-domestication.

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Francesco Suman, Telmo Pievani, in "PARADIGMI" 2/2015, pp. 173-196, DOI:10.3280/PARA2015-002011


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