The Evolution of Human Speech

  title={The Evolution of Human Speech},
  author={Philip Lieberman},
  journal={Current Anthropology},
  pages={39 - 66}
  • P. Lieberman
  • Published 1 February 2007
  • Biology
  • Current Anthropology
Human speech involves species‐specific anatomy deriving from the descent of the tongue into the pharynx. The human tongue’s shape and position yields the 1:1 oral‐to‐pharyngeal proportions of the supralaryngeal vocal tract. Speech also requires a brain that can “reiterate”—freely reorder a finite set of motor gestures to form a potentially infinite number of words and sentences. The end points of the evolutionary process are clear. The chimpanzee lacks a supralaryngeal vocal tract capable of… 

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