On the evolution of language and kinship
© 1996 James Steele, Stephen Shennan and contributors. If anything can be said to demarcate humans from other animals, it must surely be language. Language has enabled us to produce culture, literature, religion and science. Nonetheless, discussions of language invariably tend to assume its existence; worse still, perhaps, they assume that it arose in order to make culture possible. But, biologically speaking, this is a very peculiar (and all but indefensible) claim, for it rests on the assumption that things can evolve in order to serve a purpose that has not yet come into existence, for without language culture cannot exist.