The Evolution of Speech

The Evolution of Speech

The purpose of this essay is to identify the evolutionary evidence of speech. The articles reviewed in this paper affirm the evidence of evolution of speech. Much is unknown about the evolution of speech, however, fossil evidence points to adaptations for speech appearing between 1.5 million and 500,000 years ago. Fossil evidence for the evolution of speech is shown in the earliest hominins to one of our well known ancestors, the homo erectus. There are differences between bone structure and hard tissues of living modern humans to those of chimpanzees and bonobos (Boer, 2005). Speech is a unique trait that only humans so far have developed. This trait was most likely a prerequisite for the development of culture within human society. Throughout society, it has been shown that speech can vary from being extremely complex to astonishingly simple. Finally, the way infants acquire speech has become more well known helping provide the starting point of evolution of speech.

The physical aspect of language and over time has become an interesting topic of discussion because it is difficult to track its evolution. Adaptations of speech such as the vocal tract and breathing control have left traces in fossil records that continue to be studied to this day. The capacities of speech acoustics and perception are a crucial step in the recognition of vocal tract resonances, or formants in human speech. Tract resonaances function as a bandpass filter, taking whatever sound is emanated in the larynx and shaping it into peaks and valleys (Fitch, 2000). Although all mammals have similar production of sound, only humans make heavy usage of the formants. The study of this has been investigated even to the youngest of inf...

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