Page of

Gestural Communication in the Great Apes: Tracing the Origins of Language

Gestural Communication in the Great Apes: Tracing the Origins of Language

Chapter:
(p.233) 10 Gestural Communication in the Great Apes: Tracing the Origins of Language
Source:
Chimpanzees in Context
Author(s):
Catherine Hobaiter
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226728032.003.0010

Exploring the evolutionary origins of language presents a significant challenge: signals across species do not fossilize. Nevertheless, no other single capacity better defines what is apparently unique about the human species. The signals of modern primate species have been shown to encode rich information, but meaning in human language has been treated differently; taking into account not only the structure of the signal but also the intention of the signaller. Today, a diverse body of evidence suggests that chimpanzees and bonobos share our capacity for intentional goal-directed communication, particularly in their large repertoires of gestures. From this starting point we can begin to explore what other features of language-like communication they share. To do so we must do more than describe a check-list of features, we must also explore how they use their gestures. Importantly in order to describe meaningful differences and similarities between ape gesture and human language, we must describe gestural communication from the perspective of the ape species using it.

Keywords:   gesture, communication, intentional, language, meaning, chimpanzee

Sign In

Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy and Legal Notice