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The Prehistory of Language$
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Rudolf Botha and Chris Knight

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199545872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199545872.001.0001

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The ontogeny and phylogeny of non‐verbal deixis *

The ontogeny and phylogeny of non‐verbal deixis *

Chapter:
(p.142) 8 The ontogeny and phylogeny of non‐verbal deixis*
Source:
The Prehistory of Language
Author(s):

David A. Leavens

Timothy P. Racine

William D. Hopkins

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199545872.003.0008

This chapter reviews evidence for deixis in great apes. Some of this evidence suggests that great apes easily develop deictic repertoires in the complete absence of any explicit attempt to train them. It is argued that deixis — in the sense of the ability to direct the attention of another to a specific locus — is a capacity shared by great apes and humans. Assuming that deixis in great apes cannot ultimately derive from bipedalism or other adaptations, our hominin ancestors were pre-adapted for joint attention, which makes deixis a component of the faculty of language in the broad sense of Hauser, Chomsky, and Fitch (2002).

Keywords:   deixis, great apes, language development, language capacity, evolution

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