How Language Began

The Story of Humanity's Greatest Invention

Daniel L. Everett (Author)

Logo markA Liveright book


In this interdisciplinary history of mankind’s most incredible creation, a pioneering linguist masterfully traces the evolution of language across 60,000 generations.

Mankind has a distinct advantage over all terrestrial species: we talk to one another. But how did we acquire the most advanced form of communication on Earth? In this sweeping history, How Language Began revolutionizes our understanding of the one tool that has allowed us to become the “lords of the planet.” Debunking long-held theories across a spectrum of disciplines, Daniel L. Everett, a “bombshell” linguist and “instant folk hero” (Tom Wolfe, Harper’s), presents the stunning ideas that we are not born with an instinct for language and that the near seven thousand languages that exist today—the product of one million years of evolution—are the very basis of our own consciousness. Woven throughout with lucid anecdotes of his nearly forty years of fieldwork among Amazonian hunter-gatherers, this exploration of our humanity becomes a landmark study of what makes us human.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • Forthcoming November 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-87140-795-5
  • 6.1 × 9.3 in / 384 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“[Everett] mixes esoteric scholarly inquiry with approachable anecdotal interludes to surmise how humans developed written and spoken language and why it became vital for survival and dominance. As in his previous books, Everett energetically attacks the long-accepted theory of Noam Chomsky that humans are born with the language instinct, including innate rules of structure....That Everett is skilled at leavening an intellectually challenging treatise with humor is evident on the first page of the introduction.” — Kirkus Reviews