Front cover image for Grooming, gossip and the evolution of language

Grooming, gossip and the evolution of language

"Apes and monkeys differ from other animals in the intensity of their social relationships, in the amount of time they spend grooming one another. Not just a matter of hygiene, as you might think, grooming is really all about cementing bonds, making friends and influencing your fellow primate." "Early humans, in their characteristic large groups of 150 or so, would have had to spend almost half their time in mutual grooming, an impossible burden. Instead, Professor Robin Dunbar argues, they evolved a more efficient mechanism: language. It seems there is nothing idle about idle chatter. Having a good gossip ensures that a dynamic group - of hunter-gatherers, soldiers, workmates - remains cohesive." "Men and women 'gossip' equally, but men tend to talk about themselves, while women talk more about other people, working to strengthen the female-female relationships that underpin both human and primate societies. Until now, most anthropologists have assumed that language developed in male-male relationships, during activities such as hunting. Dunbar's original and highly intriguing research suggests that, to the contrary, language evolved among women."--BOOK JACKET
Print Book, English, 1996
Faber and Faber, London, 1996
230 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
9780571173969, 9780571173976, 0571173969, 0571173977
1. Talking Heads
2. Into the Social Whirl
3. The Importance of Being Earnest
4. Of Brains and Groups and Evolution
5. The Ghost in the Machine
6. Up Through the Mists of Time
7. First Words
8. Babel's Legacy
9. The Little Rituals of Life
10. The Scars of Evolution