Skip to main content

Life history and language: Selection in development

  • John L. Locke (a1) and Barry Bogin (a2)

Language, like other human traits, could only have evolved during one or more stages of development. We enlist the theoretical framework of human life history to account for certain aspects of linguistic evolution, with special reference to initial phases in the process. It is hypothesized that selection operated at several developmental stages, the earlier ones producing new behaviors that were reinforced by additional, and possibly more powerful, forms of selection during later stages, especially adolescence and early adulthood. Peer commentaries have provided opportunities to explain human life history more comprehensively, and to add details to our account of spoken language. We made no attempt to explain syntax in the target article, but we propose here that selection for “vocal plumage” may have increased our species’ capacity for utterance complexity, a development that would have benefited all levels of language.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title

 PDF (825 KB)
825 KB


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 30 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 139 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.