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Women's Role in the Origins of Language

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It was once rare for language origins theorists to even mention women. But the anthropologist Sara Hrdy has changed all that. Traditionally, labour was considered the co-operative framework within which language evolved. Hrdy's point is that while this is true, the kind of labour which gave rise to language was cooperative childcare.
Chris Knight will build on this insight to explain how language presupposes very special levels of honesty and trust. The necessary mutual understanding was established in the first instance between mothers who, for the first time, were willing to trust someone else hold their baby without harming it. In place of 'the tool-making ape' or 'the hunting ape', modern evolutionary science now places 'the baby-sitting ape' centre stage.


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