Human language is a weird communication system: it has more in common with birdsong than with the calls of other primates. In this wide-ranging and accessible overview, first published in 2000, Jean Aitchison explores the origins of human language and how it has evolved. She likens the search to a vast pre-historic jigsaw puzzle, in which numerous fragments of evidence must be assembled. Such evidence is pieced together from a mixture of linguistic and non-linguistic sources like evolution theory, archaeology, psychology, and anthropology. She explains why language is so strange, outlines recent theories about its origin, and discusses possible paths of evolution. Finally, Jean Aitchison considers what holds all languages together and prevents them from becoming unlearnably different from one another. The Seeds of Speech is a fascinating book that will appeal to everyone who is interested in the origins and evolution of human language, including linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, archaeologists, and the general reader.