Quercus imprint MacLehose Press has acquired The Dawn of Language: Axes, Lies, Midwifery and How We Came to Talk, a "deeply researched" exploration of how our ancestors evolved into language users. The book is written by Sverker Johansson and translated from Swedish by Frank Perry.
Publisher Katharina Bielenberg acquired world English-language rights from Markus Hoffman at Regal Hoffmann & Associates, on behalf of Natur & Kultur. Rights have also been sold in Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Greece, Romania and Turkey.
Johansson, a physicist, linguist and senior advisor at Dalarna University in Sweden, will draw on many fields of research—linguistics, archaeology, primatology, palaeontology, anthropology, cognitive science and neurology—to produce a "tightly woven, beautifully written tapestry of one of humanity’s greatest mysteries", says the publisher.
Johansson said he wrote The Dawn of Language as "an important part of the story of the dawn of humanity, how we evolved from chattering monkeys to eloquent humans, but the story cannot stand on its own. It must be grounded in evidence, otherwise it’s just a fairytale."
Bielenberg commented: "The Dawn of Language is a stimulating deep dive for anyone who has ever contemplated not just why we speak the way we do, but why we speak at all. There have been many books on language evolution, but perhaps none as evidence-based as this one, which is rigorously authoritative and at the same time full of highly illustrative examples that present quite complex theories to the lay reader with real clarity."
The Dawn of Language will be published on 2nd September 2021.