Richard Futrell

1. When Did Humans Evolve Language?

The assured results of modern science are that… no one really knows. There are, of course, many theories, including one offered by University of California Irvine prof Richard Futrell, covered at Discover Magazine: “As we got smarter and found more things we wanted to communicate, we ran into what Futrell calls a “simplicity bottleneck.” We couldn’t just keep adding more words. We didn’t need a lot of linguistic structure when all we needed to communicate was a few distinct calls to warn of predators or to attract a mate or threaten a rival, “Our brains aren’t big enough; our lives aren’t long enough to learn them all,” he says.

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