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By Botha, Rudolf P.; Knight, Chris

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Ultrasociality hence appears to be a necessary prerequisite to originating and sustaining symbolic cultural communication from the perspective of these models. This has led to criticism from biologists, who argue that it is an unrealistic assumption; on the other hand, it has led to endorsement from anthropologists, who believe that ultrasociality is precisely a unique trait of our species. A central problem in anthropology is therefore to explain how early hominins were able to lift themselves out of a Darwinian world into a cooperative social and cultural world.

E. with anatomically modern humans), there is a bonding gap between what can be done with grooming and the point at which language kicks in as a substitute. If this gap was filled by a form of chorusing, the endorphin-producing capacities of music (and especially song and dance) would provide a natural 30 Dunbar bridge (Dunbar 2006, 2007). Otherwise, we have a problem about how hominin societies are bonded during the intervening period. 4 Why do only humans have language? If we accept the argument as I have laid it out above, then it naturally follows that, at least among the primates, only humans are likely to have evolved language: No one else has evolved group sizes large enough to require more than grooming for social bonding.

1 System versus systematicity Work on Emergent Grammar (Hopper 1987) and Construction Grammar (Croft 2001), as well as observations of real language use in natural dialog (Pickering and Garrod 2004), shows that there is no clear-cut static “system” uniformly known and used by all speakers of a language community. Instead, there is huge variation as all elements of a language undergo constant change through the individual actions of language users. New sounds get into a language or existing sounds get modulated.

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