Browsing Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection by Author "Terwilliger, Megan"
The origins of spoken languageTerwilliger, Megan (2018-05)Research regarding the origins of spoken language is extremely broad and considers many different topics in academia. These topics include: biology and anthropology, as well as anatomy, non-linguistic neurological foundations, potential protolanguages, and possible selective pressures that could have produced such a complex system of communication. Considering these topics can assist in imagining what language may have presented itself as throughout human ancestry, and how it could have developed into the intricate system of modern language. Anatomically, the descent of the larynx, increased thoracic innervation, disappearance of the laryngeal air sacs, and changes in neuroanatomical structures could have served as exaptations or adaptations for spoken language. Non-linguistic factors such as vocal learning and vocal imitation fostered new ways of learning to communicate. Protolanguages could have taken a gestural, musical, hybrid, or lexical form that increased the selective pressures to create today’s language system. Social changes, mainly increase in group size, had the potential to provide great selective pressure for the development of more efficient communication. The combination of some of these factors eventually fostered an environment for the human vocal communication system to evolve into what it is today.