In this interdisciplinary history of mankind’s most incredible creation, a pioneering linguist masterfully traces the evolution of language across 60,000 generations.
Mankind has a distinct advantage over all terrestrial species: we talk to one another. But how did we acquire the most advanced form of communication on Earth? In this sweeping history, How Language Began revolutionizes our understanding of the one tool that has allowed us to become the “lords of the planet.” Debunking long-held theories across a spectrum of disciplines, Daniel L. Everett, a “bombshell” linguist and “instant folk hero” (Tom Wolfe, Harper’s), presents the stunning ideas that we are not born with an instinct for language and that the near seven thousand languages that exist today―the product of one million years of evolution―are the very basis of our own consciousness. Woven throughout with lucid anecdotes of his nearly forty years of fieldwork among Amazonian hunter-gatherers, this exploration of our humanity becomes a landmark study of what makes us human. 20 illustrations; map