[After a one-chapter interlude in which he discussed some similarities between animal and human communication, Swadesh continues to investigate the characteristics of the very early stages of language. Here he looks at various areas of vocabulary and, by considering languages from all over the world, tries to explain their origin and development. By Swadesh’s own admission, some of the interpretations presented here are quite bold. Nonetheless, the facts on which they are based are intriguing and lead one to wonder whether similarities of vocabulary are due to common origin, language universals or tendencies, or chance.]