The current issue of First Language features some interesting articles on the evolution of language:
It includes a book review of Michael Tomasello's "Origins of Human Communication" by Evan Kidd as well as a review of an edited volume titled "The Evolution of Human Language: Biolinguistic Perspectives" by Thomas Scott-Phillips, who rightly argues that the term Biolinguistics - which is mainly used by people from the Generative Grammar camp - is "n
Communicative combinations of two bonobos (Pan paniscus) and a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) are compared. All three apes utilized ordering strategies for combining symbols (lexigrams) or a lexigram with a gesture to express semantic relations such as agent of action or object of action. Combinatorial strategies used by all three apes revealed commonalities with child language, spoken and signed, at the two-year-old level. However, many differences were also observed: e.g., combinations made up a much smaller proportion and single symbols a much larger proportion of ape production compared with child production at a similar age; and ape combinations rarely exceeded three semiotic elements. The commonalties and differences among three sibling species highlight candidate combinatorial capacities that may underlie the evolution of human language.