• Course Code:  OHL02

  • Term:  spring2015

  • Open for Enrollment

  • Self-paced

  • Course Author(s)
    Professors Juichi Yamagiwa Hiroki Koda - Kyoto University
Origin of human language3.jpg

Origins of Human Language - Primate Origins of Human Language



  • Juichi
    Juichi Yamagiwa
  • Hiroki koda  small
    Hiroki Koda

Course Summary

Enrollment is Open Now


 The first part of this course compares human society to that of the great ape, and discusses the communication of early hominid. The second part looks at the emergence of primate songs. Coursework will specifically address the question: what components of the primate communication are integrated in the emergence of language in evolution?


Learning outcomes


By the end of this course you should be able to:


describe and explain the fundamental gaps of communications between humans and nonhuman primates

describe some of common characteristics between humans and great ape societies

describe how our ancestors would communicate in social groups before emergence of language

describe the divergence of communication in primates

describe the emergence of primate songs in small apes

describe and explain the preadaptive perspectives for emergence of language and song in primate lineage

Assumed knowledge

No background is assumed. 



Throughout the course you will have the opportunity to complete assessable quizzes. These will be automatically marked.


Certificate of achievement

Participants who successfully complete the assessable aspects of the course are eligible to receive a certificate of achievement if you score at least 60% overall. Participants have the option of purchasing a Certificate of Achievement signed by the instructors.


This is the final part of the three part Origins of Human Languages  series. You can purchase certificates for all three courses at a special bundle price. 




Find the registration pages for series 1 and 2 below:

Series 1: Birds, Monkeys, and Humans

Series 2: Birdsong


 Course options


You can choose how you interact with this course. Following registration you can:


a.  Study all of the content and complete the assessable quizzes. You will receive a certificate of achievement if you pass the assessment.


b.  Opt not to submit the assessment but participate in the course, accessing the lectures, content, and quizzes. You will not receive a certificate.



There are 12 modules. Each module should take 45 minutes to one hour complete, including the quizzes. Beyond that, it is how much time you want to spend participating in the forum discussion.


Course structure

The 12 modules will be released every two days.


Getting Started

Take the time to prepare before lectures commence. Familiarize yourself with the site, watch the required videos, introduce yourself with a post to the forum, and join in the discussions.



Communication before language and evolution of human society (Juichi Yamagiwa)


Module 1: Introduction

Module 2: Social interactions in competitive situations 

Module 3: Face-to-face interaction

Module 4: Food sharing

Module 5: Human life history traits

Module 6: Community structure


Primate songs and human language (Hiroki Koda)

Module 7: What is shared in primate lineages?

Module 8: Primate songs

Module 9: Gibbon song evolution 

Module 10: Gibbon song development

Module 11: Pre-adaptive perspectives

Module 12: Integration of precursors gives us the faculty of language


Juichi Yamagiwa is a professor at Kyoto University

Hiroki Koda is an assistant professor at Kyoto University

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Origins of Human Language - Primate Origins of Human Language


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