Regular price: $20.99

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

Mankind has a distinct advantage over other terrestrial species: we talk to one another. But how did we acquire the most advanced form of communication on Earth? Daniel L. Everett, a "bombshell" linguist and "instant folk hero" (Tom Wolfe, Harper's), provides in this sweeping history a comprehensive examination of the evolutionary story of language, from the earliest speaking attempts by hominids to the more than 7,000 languages that exist today.

Although fossil hunters and linguists have brought us closer to unearthing the true origins of language, Daniel Everett's discoveries have upended the contemporary linguistic world, reverberating far beyond academic circles. While conducting field research in the Amazonian rainforest, Everett came across an age-old language nestled amongst a tribe of hunter-gatherers. Challenging long-standing principles in the field, Everett now builds on the theory that language was not intrinsic to our species. In order to truly understand its origins, a more interdisciplinary approach is needed - one that accounts as much for our propensity for culture as it does our biological makeup.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 Daniel Everett (P)2018 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    31
  • 4 Stars
    18
  • 3 Stars
    23
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    35
  • 4 Stars
    15
  • 3 Stars
    18
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    4

Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    23
  • 4 Stars
    23
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    5
Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Hard to endure

Interesting subject, but the writing is drawn out and incredibly repetitive, and the performance is uninspired. All in all, a disappointment.

95 of 100 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Extremely Thought Provoking

I came to this book as someone who has a post-graduate degree in a European literature and is now deeply immersed in the research on autism. I learned a lot from it and found its main concepts to be entirely consistent with what other disciplines are discovering about social interaction (of which language is but one type). I truly appreciate the efforts of scholars to share the complexities of their fields with lay readers.

57 of 62 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Disapointed

I was surprised to find that a large part of this book is devoted to evolution, and the make up of skeletal mechanics of the humanoids throuout archialogic history. I did not at all expect to hear details of how the spinal chord of a pre-human enters the skull or how it would affet that pre human if it were to walk up right. It was mind numbing with this sort detail of homo species for many chapters. I cant recomend this book unless you are a graduate student studying in this field.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Ijw
  • Cochise, AZ, United States
  • 09-30-18

Pedantic

Pop science presented in a studiously boring manner. Meandering, argumentative, and short on reasoning. Blithely states that humans lost body hair because walking upright meant they had less skin exposed that needed to be shaded by fur, without a reference.
Next chapter starts arguing with Norm Chomsky, without laying out evidence in a progression, before attacking Professor Chomsky. Something somebody would read to bore people at Thanksgiving dinner.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • RickyF
  • United States
  • 09-28-18

Didatic, pendantic but unpersuasive.

Everett disagrees with many other linguists, anthropologists and cognitive scientists on how and when language began and what the evidence for the origins of language are.

I find his arguments strident and unconvincing. He says the people who he is criticizing have no evidence and then spins his own theory on scant, if any, evidence.

No one knows when or how language began and we probably won't ever know unless someone invents a time machine.. Unfortunately, there are no fossil records for speech. Therefore, everyone who theorizes in this field is guessing, including Daniel L. Everett..

If I were grading this thesis, I would give the professor a "C".

The narration is top-notch and Jonathan Yen should not be criticized for the author's shortcomings.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Don't bother with it.

I couldn't even make it through the first chapter of this book. The title is interesting, and would make for a great book, if it weren't for the author's preconceived notions of language. He takes a very literal approach to language, and doesn't seem to believe that body language, the act of communicating without words, isn't a thing. The first story told is about a grandfather getting bit by a rattlesnake and how, despite the daughter vividly remembering the snake shaking it's rattle, the snake did not give a warning, as a warning requires language. Any herpetologist that knows snakes can tell you that snakes use body language to communicate, as do most animals, including people. Language is not just something that requires speech, as the author seems to believe. The rest of the book could be quite good, but, unfortunately, I will never know because I can't make it past the author's notion that body language doesn't exist.

46 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Eh

I've read better. I was pleasantly surprised in the narrator's correct pronunciation of all the phonemes.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Author's preconceived definitions spoil it

The topic is one which I find very interesting, but in the introduction he makes broad assumptions which are in no way broadly accepted by others in the field.

The narrator is in a perpetual state of excitement which is very offputting and when he pretends to imitate others' speech it is almost offensive.

I should have paid more attention to the reviews left by others.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

0MG

Words alone cannot do this book justice. If you have a degree in any language, or even speak one, read this book.

23 of 49 people found this review helpful