You are not currently logged in.
Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:
If You Use a Screen ReaderThis content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Rank and Relationships in the Evolution of Spoken Language
John L. Locke
The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Vol. 7, No. 1 (Mar., 2001), pp. 37-50
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2660835
Page Count: 14
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Preview not available
If evolutionary benefits associated with language were predominantly referential, as many theorists assume, then there must have been a preparatory stage in which an `appetite' for information, not evident in the other primates, developed. To date, no such stage has been demonstrated. The problem dissipates, however, if it is assumed that language emerged from a function more nearly shared with other primates. An obvious candidate is displaying. Here I argue that performative functions associated with oral sound-making provided initial pressures for vocal communication by promoting rank and relationships. These benefits, I suggest, facilitated conflict avoidance and resolution, collaboration, and reciprocal sharing of needed resources. By valuing the performative applications of language, which continue in modern humans, one can more easily derive speech from the social-vocal behaviours of non-human primates, providing greater continuity in accounts of linguistic evolution.
The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute © 2001 Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland