Home
This Title All WIREs
WIREs RSS Feed
How to cite this WIREs title:
WIREs Cogn Sci
Impact Factor: 1.413

The gestural origins of language

Full article on Wiley Online Library:   HTML PDF

Can't access this content? Tell your librarian.

The idea that language evolved from manual gestures rather than primate calls dates back at least to the 18th century, and was revived in modern form by the anthropologist, Gordon W. Hewes, in 1973. The main sources of current evidence are: (1) Signed languages invented by deaf communities share with speech the essential characteristics of language, including such properties as reference, generativity, grammar, and prosody; (2) Great apes in captivity are much better able to learn intentional communication systems based on manual gestures than to acquire speech; (3) The manual gestures of chimpanzees in the wild are more flexible and context‐independent than their vocalizations; (4) The mirror system in the primate brain provides a natural platform for the evolution of language; it represents manual gestures and some nonvocal oral movements, but not vocalizations. Vocal gestures were probably incorporated into the mirror system late in hominin evolution, perhaps only with the emergence of our own species, Homo sapiens. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Related Articles

Mirror systems

Browse by Topic

Linguistics > Language in Mind and Brain
blog comments powered by Disqus

Access to this WIREs title is by subscription only.

Recommend to Your
Librarian Now!

The latest WIREs articles in your inbox

Sign Up for Article Alerts

Twitter: WBPsychology Follow us on Twitter

    Introduction to publishing for early career researchers, 30th September, register now for this free webinar http://t.co/rPXUgaVzaJ
    RT @RCSLT: NEW IJLCD ARTICLE: Complex syntax in autism spectrum disorders: a study of relative clauses http://t.co/7uBdn6G2vF