This year's Reith Lecturer is Jean Aitchison, a Professor of Language and Communication in the Faculty of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford.
In her second lecture, Professor Aitchison examines the origin of language in the human species, and explores how a fresh look at the role of language has led to new ideas about how it started. By looking at behaviour which we share with our ape relatives, the original role of language can be uncovered. How did the use of sounds arise? And more importantly, how did particular sounds come to be used as symbols, with firm meanings?