cover image Finding Our Tongues: Mothers, Infants & the Origins of Language

Finding Our Tongues: Mothers, Infants & the Origins of Language

Dean Falk, Author . Basic $26.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-465-00219-1

The origins of language, says anthropologist Falk (Braindance ), lie deep in the past, long before Homo sapiens appeared on earth, when some baby hominids lost the common primate ability to cling to mothers with both hands and feet. Mother would have to put baby down to be able to forage for food. This behavior, suggests Falk, led to the creation of calls so that a mother and her baby could know that the other was nearby. Falk claims these calls led not only to language but also to the creation of music, through the inflections of the mother-baby calls, and to pictorial art, as babies drew in the dirt. Despite Falk's evidence, readers may find it a stretch that language, music and art all developed from “putting the baby down” (with dad nowhere in the picture). The author seems weak on basic principles of linguistics, for which she has to quote “an anthropologist friend,” and music, where her understanding of interval patterns is at a very basic level. Nonetheless, readers interested in language acquisition may find Falk's hypothesis thought provoking. (Mar.)