Article Information


Nikolai S. Rozov (

Institute of Philosophy and Law, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia

Citation: Rozov N.S. Obnovleniye sotsial'nykh poryadkov v antropogeneze — klyuch k ob"yasneniyu proiskhozhdeniya yazyka [Updating social orders in anthropogenesis –– the key to explaining the origin of the language]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 24(3): 216–238 (in Russian).

Abstract. In modern studies of the origin of language, a sociological and socio-anthropological turn is taking place. Researchers make reconstructions of hominids’ social orders, norms, rituals, the nature of their interactions and communication. The article shows how conceptual means of sociology allow us to explain the most difficult problems of the origin of language. Evolutionary processes in anthropogenesis, which were traditionally explained by means of biological concepts (adaptation, selection, mutations, niches), have an especially important social component. The reasons for the uniqueness of the evolutionary path of human ancestors, the social mechanisms of overcoming the "language Rubicon" (from the sign systems of animals to articulate meaningful speech) are considered. The principles of explaining the main shifts in the complication of language and the development of consciousness through the natural renewal of social orders of hominids are discussed. These changes began already with the descent to the ground and bipedal locomotion, included the transition to new ways of feeding, the emergence of joint intentionality, normativity, interaction rituals.  The last ones were associated with signals the sound forms and meanings of which varied and multiplied. Under the conditions of egalitarian coalitions, the hominids were supposed to coordinate collective behavior, regulate the relations of ownership of tools and sexual access by rules. Individuals' concern about maintaining and increasing their level of group membership began to be ensured by the "correctness" of behavior, including the identifiability of the proto-words, then words, phrases, sentences. Everyday efforts to provide this concern explain the progressive development of speech motor skills and the larynx structure. The mastery of fire and the practice of collective cooking led to eating together in a sequence of priorities. At the later stages of anthropogenesis, the proto-sapiens and sapiens established inter-group alliances, which means they had to negotiate, and in the Upper Paleolithic, exchange relations, deferred obligations developed, competition for positions of prestige, social membership in groups and alliances intensified. The high degree of articulatory standardization in all known languages is a consequence of the special speech normativeness, according to which the "correctness" ("habit", "normality") of pronunciation has become ubiquitous and almost the strongest marker of distinguishing "our people" from "aliens".

Key words: origin of language, glottogenesis, anthropogenesis, paleosociology, hominids, social interaction, social order, communicative concerns, ritual, linguistic complexity, mastering fire, proto-language.


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