Chapter 1  The Mark of Evolution

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution- Theodosius Dobzhansky


Outline1: Past linguists ignore the principles and findings of biology.

Summary: Those linguists overvalue the inorganic aspects of language like syntax as it were the central feature in human language. However, to see human language further, the biological principles must be taken into account.


Outline2: The tongue and brain for humans are not designed perfectly from the beginning. They are constituted based on tinkerer・s logic.

Summary: The evolutionary process is continuous. Any organs in humans are all undergone this process.


Outline3: The book Lieberman writes focuses on the tinkerer・s logic, and biological principles to say that how humans can acquire reiterative ability, etc.

Outline4: The basal ganglia regulates the motor control and confers cognitive flexibility to individuals.

Summary: The past theory for Broca・s and Wernicke・s areas has been neglected. The fact is that the basal ganglia located in the subcortical position regulates our motor control and cognitive ability. And this helps us communicate with others fluently. If disruption of neural circuits happens in basal ganglia, this will make us hard to control any physical movements and think. Some diseases like schizophrenia, disinhibition, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or apraxia will happen due to some damages to the basal ganglia.


Outline5: Foxp2 plays an important part in regulating our conceptual bases and motor control.

Summary: Foxp2 has a lot to do with linguistic ability. However, it is not a language gene. It is a substance that regulates motor control and conceptual ability.


Outline6: Past linguists think that one part in human brain is mainly designed for language just like one module in computer.

Summary: Past linguists like Chomsky see human linguistic ability not based on biological principles, so they will think human brain is constituted with different modules like computer. Lieberman won・t believe this viewpoint.

Outline7: FLN theory proposed by Chomsky is unable to be proved because it can・t be observed.

Summary: FLN for faculty of language can・t be true because it・s just a hypothesis. According to biological principles, the theory plays no part in biological bases. The FLN that regulates any other aspect of behavior can・t be found in our human brain. If FLN does exist, the animals can acquire human language only by adding FLN to them.

Outline8: The behavior in human communication should shed light on cognitive and motor control ability.

Outline9: The universal grammar is preloaded in humans. This theory proposed by Chomsky seems wrong.

Summary: Biologic evidences do not support his claim. In fact, the linguistic ability is a byproduct due to the evolution of brain mechanisms that regulate motor control and other aspects of human and animal behavior. This evidence rules out the theory of innate universal grammar.


Outline10: Comparing human behaviors with chimpanzee・s, some similar scenario can be observed.

Summary: Chimpanzees and humans all can eat. The neural control sequence that coordinates tongue and larynx movement in chimpanzee is similar to humans.

Outline11: Observing behaviors is a good solution to discern the link between humans and other species.


       Roadmap to the Book

The section is a brief introduction for the following chapters.


Chapter1: This chapter leads us to biology of language. The overview for this book.


Chapter2: Take notice of comparative studies. Discriminate the primitive feature and derived feature in human language. The feature that can be found in other species is primitive, such as physical movements, mental facilities.

    The feature that other species can・t compete with humans is derived, such as limitless, complicated syntactic ability.


Chapter3: The singular contribution of human speech yields a high data transmission rate.

Chapter4: Some of the neural bases of human language in the border framework of current studies of how biologic brains work.

Chapter5: This chapter is the continuum for chapter 4. The evolution of the neural system adapted for motor control appears to be the key to allow us to create potentially infinite number of actions and words, or thoughts.

Chapter6: To solve the question of evolution of the anatomic bases of human speech, we need quantitative studies of vocal communication in other species.

Chapter7: Each school of linguist all has raised his own opinions toward language, from sound pattern, algorithm, syntax, etc. Lieberman takes a biological approach to this issue.