The Cradle of Language - Oxford Press.

Together with its companion volume—The Prehistory of Language—this book grew out of a conference held in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in November 2006. The organizers deliberately held the event in the part of the world where modern language is now believed to have evolved. In addition to prominent linguists, psychologists, cognitive scientists, and specialists in artificial intelligence, the conference featured some of the world’s leading archeologists, historical linguists, primatologists, and social anthropologists, in many cases bringing specialist knowledge of distinctively African data and perspectives.
Shortly after the conference, we decided to publish not only the contributions from invited speakers but papers selected from the refreshingly wide range of disciplines represented at the event. Chapters dealing more generally with the origins and evolution of language appear in The Prehistory of Language.


The present volume focuses more specifically on the origins of language in Africa. Both reflect the authors’ extensive additional work on their original papers.


The Cradle of Language Conference was organized by Rudolf Botha. It was sponsored by the University of Stellenbosch and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences. We gratefully acknowledge generous financial support from The University of Stellenbosch, The Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust and South Africa’s National Research Foundation; we also warmly thank Connie Park for her dedicated work in compiling, reformatting, and editing the manuscripts.

Chris Knight, London.

Rudolf Botha, Stellenbosch.

April 2008.

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