In this chapter we explored the differences between animal communication and language. We also looked at speculations about the origins and language as well as some design features that help to differentiate human language from animal communication. We saw that the brain has specialized regions for language production and comprehension. We also looked at how language has been thought to determine cognitive processing and how there is limited evidence to support this view.
- Human language is unique and different from animal communication.
- Defining language is difficult. However, we can define it in terms of key design features.
- The origins of language through evolution by natural selection has gained ground within psychology and biology in recent years.
- Lesion studies have shown Broca’s region to be associated with articulation and Wernicke’s region to be associated with language comprehension.
- The idea that language determines thought has been challenged by further exploration of various languages.
Exercises in Critical Thinking
- Consider how language might have provided our ancestors with an evolutionary advantage.
- Could language have emerged as an artifact of sexual selection for higher cognition?
- What would an animal such as a chimpanzee or gorilla need to accomplish for us to consider it proficient in language?