Sunday, April 05, 2009

Pg.99: Dean Falk's "Finding Our Tongues"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Finding Our Tongues: Mothers, Infants, and the Origins of Language by Dean Falk.

About the book, from the publisher:
Scientists have long theorized that abstract, symbolic thinking evolved to help humans negotiate such classically male activities as hunting, tool making, and warfare, and eventually developed into spoken language. In Finding Our Tongues, Dean Falk overturns this established idea, offering a daring new theory that springs from a simple observation: parents all over the world, in all cultures, talk to infants by using baby talk or “Motherese.” Falk shows how Motherese developed as a way of reassuring babies when mothers had to put them down in order to do work. The melodic vocalizations of early Motherese not only provided the basis of language but also contributed to the growth of music and art. Combining cutting-edge neuroscience with classic anthropology, Falk offers a potent challenge to conventional wisdom about the emergence of human language.
Read more about Finding Our Tongues at the publisher's website.

Learn more about Dean Falk's research and writing at her faculty webpage.

Dean Falk is Hale G. Smith Professor of Anthropology at Florida State University. She is the author of Braindance and Primate Diversity, and co-author of The Face in the Mirror. Her “putting the baby down” theory, published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Scientific American, New Scientist, National Geographic, and Newsweek.

The Page 99 Test: Finding Our Tongues.

--Marshal Zeringue