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� FORUM � Disentangling the Neanderthal Net: A Comment on

By Lluís Barceló-coblijn and Antonio Benítez-burraco


Sverker Johansson provided a very useful piece of work in which he skillfully reviews most aspects and scientific areas that have dealt with the Neanderthal language issue, including (but not limited to) genetics, archaeology, linguistics and modeling. Johansson’s main conclusion is that Homo neanderthalensis had some form of language, at the very least, a proto-language, which he understands as “a system possessing lexical semantics but not syntax ” (Johansson 2013: 6). At the same time, he notes that many aspects are still obscure, and that the data reported until now is still not conclusive. In particular, “whether they had syntactic language can be neither confirmed nor refuted ” (p. 23). We agree with Johansson when he says that Neanderthals had to count on some form of language. The amount of evidence he has reviewed points in this direction without doubt. We also agree with him in conceding Neanderthals a much more sophisticated capacity for oral production than as sometimes been depicted in the past. Nevertheless, we think that the real, productive debate is whether or not Neanderthals had the same faculty of language that anatomicall

Year: 2013
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