Beyond protolanguage: Contemporary problems in the evolution of language

Sławomir Wacewicz, Przemysław Żywiczyński



The emergence of the uniquely human ability to acquire and use language has invariably been perceived as a problem that is both exceptionally difficult and intriguing. Conjectures regarding the sources of language have never been in short supply, substantiating some of the mistrust in the purposefulness of this type of study. The earliest manifestations of this mistrust – such as the famous 1866 “ban” on the inquiry into language origins, found in the statute
of Société de Linguistique de Paris – have acquired a  legendary status; but it is interesting to observe that as recently as thirty years ago it was fair for linguists to claim that the phylogeny of language was irrelevant to linguistic
research, constituting a proprietary area of mythological, religious or philosophical reflection (e.g. Fisiak 1985).

Full Text:



Fisiak, J. (1985). Wstęp do współczesnych teorii lingwistycznych. Warszawa: PWN.

Fitch, T. (2010). The evolution of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fitch, T., Hauser, M. & Chomsky, N. (2005). The evolution of the language faculty: clarifications and implications. Cognition. 97(2), 179-210.[]

Hauser, M., Chomsky, N. & Fitch T. (2002). The Faculty of Language: What. Is It, Who Has It, and How Did It Evolve? Science 298, 1569-1579.

Hurford, J. (2007). The origins of meaning: Language in the light of evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jackendoff, R. (1999). Possible stages in the evolution of the language capacity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 3(7), 272-279.

Jackendoff, R. & Pinker, S. (2005). The nature of the language faculty and its implications for evolution of language. Cognition 97(2), 211-225.

Johansson, S. (2005). Origins of Language: Constraints on hypotheses. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Pinker, S. & Bloom, P. (1990). Natural language and natural selection. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 13, 707-784.

Pinker, S. & Jackendoff, R. (2005). The Faculty of language: What’s special about it? Cognition 95(2), 201-236.

Smith, A. D. M., Smith, K. & Ferrer i Cancho, R. (Eds.) (2008). Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG 7). New Jersey: World Scientific.

Smith, A. D. M., Shouwstra, M., de Boer, B. & Smith, K. (Eds.) (2010). Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG 8). New Jersey: World Scientific


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 2392-1196 (online)

Partnerzy platformy czasopism