In a pop science outlet, no less.
What? Weren’t chimpanzees learning to talk just last year or something?
A recent study of the origin of language dares to contradict Noam Chomsky. He held that a single gene mutation roughly 70,000 through 100,000 years ago gave rise to human language. Many have professed skepticism and the latest paper concludes: “ Our results cast doubt on any suggestion that evolutionary reasoning provides an independent rationale for a single-mutant theory of language.”
This research is all highly speculative, of course, as the evolution of language is notoriously challenging to explore with any certainty.
“The basic difficulty with studying the evolution of language is that the evidence is so sparse,” Ray Jackendoff a former student of Chomsky’s and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, wrote. “Spoken languages don’t leave fossils, and fossil skulls only tell us the overall shape and size of hominid brains, not what the brains could do.”Ross Pomeroy, “Did Language Evolve With a Single Mutation? A New Study Says That’s Unlikely.” at RealClear Science
It’s almost like some people want to take language seriously now.
Paper. (open access)
See also: Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness
and The real reason why only human beings speak. Language is a tool for abstract thinking—a necessary tool for abstraction—and humans are the only animals who think abstractly