ABSTRACT. The precise timing of the emergence of language in human prehistory cannot be resolved. But the available evidence is sufficient to constrain it to some degree. This is a review and synthesis of the available evidence, leading to the conclusion that the time when speech in some form became important for our ancestors can be constrained to be not less than 400,000 years ago, thus excluding several popular theories involving a late transition to speech. pp. 45–59

Keywords: emergence of language, human prehistory, speech, ancestors


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School of Education and Communication
University of Jönköping


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