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The Social Origins of Language$
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Daniel Dor, Chris Knight, and Jerome Lewis

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199665327

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665327.001.0001

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Chimpanzee grooming gestures and sounds: what might they tell us about how language evolved?

Chimpanzee grooming gestures and sounds: what might they tell us about how language evolved?

Chapter:
(p.128) (p.129) 10 Chimpanzee grooming gestures and sounds: what might they tell us about how language evolved?
Source:
The Social Origins of Language
Author(s):

Simone Pika

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665327.003.0010

Human language, without precedent elsewhere in the biological world, has often been used to define what it means to be human. Although there are on-going debates on whether language originated from vocalizations, gestures, or a combination of both, many researchers would agree that gestures surpass vocalizations with regards to underlying flexibility and intentionality. This chapter has two aims. First, it provides a short overview of the field of comparative gestural research with a special focus on features crucial for human language such as intentionality, flexibility, and acquisition. Second, it offers insight into communicative and cognitive complexity in wild chimpanzees by focusing on a distinct behavioural context — grooming — that has been suggested as a highly prolific medium for the development of sophisticated gestures and as the evolutionary precursor to speech.

Keywords:   evolution of language, comparative approach, primates, chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, grooming, communication, gestures, multimodal signals, grooming sounds

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