In the Beginning, Before the Word

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1979, Vol 24(3), 169–171. Reviews the book, Origins and Evolution of Language and Speech. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 280 edited by Stevan R. Harnad, Horst D. Steklis, and Jane Lancaster (Eds.) (see record 1978-29022-001). This book contains the proceedings of the New York Academy of Sciences conference on language origins, held in the fall of 1975. The book falls somewhere between science and science fiction, and all the good things I have to say are aimed at the tolerant reader with a taste for both. There are several papers here, but the set pieces are a leonine encounter between Fillmore and Chomsky. The authors candidly admit that breakthroughs and Nobel prizes are not imminent, but I enjoyed my introduction to these areas nonetheless. The various papers on paleoneurology, toolmaking, and fossil artifacts are all cautiously written but truly exciting. The rest of the volume covers the respective areas of neurolinguistics and speech perception/production. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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