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The Gestural Origin of Language$
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David F. Armstrong and Sherman E. Wilcox

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195163483

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195163483.001.0001

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A Vision of Unity

(p.131) Epilogue
The Gestural Origin of Language

David F. Armstrong

Sherman E. Wilcox

Oxford University Press

This concluding chapter presents a summary of the main argument of the book, which is that signed languages are in an important sense not unique, that they are merely manifestations of the human language ability, unfamiliar only because language scientists of the time were not familiar with deaf people and their natural languages. It has been proposed that transformation of gesture into language lies at the heart of the origin of language, that just as grammaticization-as-ritualization accounts for the change from lexical to grammatical, it also accounts for the transformation of gesture into language. Ritualization is implicated in the phylogenetic evolution of language from nonlinguistic behaviours, with visible gestures playing a key role.

Keywords:   signed language, communication, unity, ritualization, human language, grammaticization

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