Review of Derek Bickerton's Adam's Tongue

94 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2010

Date Written: February 12, 2010


This is an extensive review and commentary, in Spanish, of Derek Bickerton's book ADAM'S TONGUE: HOW HUMANS MADE LANGUAGE, HOW LANGUAGE MADE HUMANS (2009). The book puts forward an evolutionary theory of the origin of language (and mankind) which is attentive to the ecological functions of animal communication systems, and builds a bridge between linguistic emergentism and the theory of ecological niche-building (Lewontin, Odling-Smee et al.). Bickerton is particularly critical of Chomskian approaches to the issue of the origin of language, and of the current genetic bias in biology, which underestimates the behavioral adaptiveness and flexibility that allowed the emergence of language in a very specific ecological niche: collaborative scavenging.

Keywords: Language, Evolution, Ecology, Origin of language, Homo, Scavengers, Ecological niche, Emergence, Communication, Animal communication, Speech, Behavior

Suggested Citation

Garcia Landa, Jose Angel, Review of Derek Bickerton's Adam's Tongue (February 12, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Jose Angel Garcia Landa (Contact Author)

Universidad de Zaragoza ( email )

Gran Via 2
Zaragoza, 50005


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