The evolution of the ability to speak

TitleThe evolution of the ability to speak
Publication TypePresentation
Year of Publication2012
Conference NameDag van de Fonetiek 2012
Authorsde Boer, Bart
PublisherNederlandse Vereniging voor Fonetische Wetenschappen
Conference LocationUtrecht, The Netherlands

In this lecture I review some of the evidence for when and how speech evolved. This evidence appears to indicate that adaptations to speech started to occur at least 500000 years ago. I will also show how computer models and experiments can help to interpret this evidence: by reconstructing our ancestors' vocal abilities, and by reconstructing how they may have sounded. Finally, I will discuss the relation between evolution of anatomy and the evolution of cognition, arguing that although we have undergone evolutionary selection for anatomy, cognitive adaptations must have been primary.