The use of language is extraordinarily commonplace, but its origins remain a mystery and have been the subject of heated debate among linguists for the better part of a century. Is the ability to understand and use language genetically encoded in humans—the result of an accident that took place relatively recently in evolutionary terms? Is it a tool of thought, for which the ability to communicate with others is a felicitous by-product? Or is it a human invention—such as the internet, or the telephone—developed by our ancestors as they realized that there were benefits to cooperating with one another? In this program, four outstanding scientists grapple with those questions from four entirely different perspectives.
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