The origins of language in teaching

Kevin N. Laland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


I introduce seven criteria for determining the validity of competing theories for the original function of language. I go on to present a novel explanation that meets all the criteria: language originally evolved to teach kin. I suggest that the use of symbols subsequently generated evolutionary feedback at two levels, in the form of self-modified selection pressures that favored structures in the mind that functioned to manipulate and use symbols with efficiency, and cultural selection on languages for learnability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-231
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin & Review
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • Evolution
  • Language
  • Teaching

Cite this