Advanced

Bodily Mimesis and the Transition to Speech

Zlatev, Jordan LU (2014) In The Evolution of Social Communication in Primates: A Multidisciplinary Approach 1. p.165-178
Abstract
The chapter reviews evidence for the bodily mimesis hypothesis, which states that the evolution of language was preceded by an adaptation for improved volitional control of the body, giving our ancestors advantages in the domains of imitation, empathy, and gestural communication. Much of this evidence is also shared by other gesture-first theories of language origins, but they face the problem of explaining the "switch" from a gestural (proto) language to a spoken one. The bodily mimesis hypothesis fares better with this objection, since it (a) emphasizes the non-conventionality and non-systematicity of bodily mimetic signaling, (b) posits a long biocultural spiral of conventionalization and adaptation for speech, and (c) insists that the... (More)
The chapter reviews evidence for the bodily mimesis hypothesis, which states that the evolution of language was preceded by an adaptation for improved volitional control of the body, giving our ancestors advantages in the domains of imitation, empathy, and gestural communication. Much of this evidence is also shared by other gesture-first theories of language origins, but they face the problem of explaining the "switch" from a gestural (proto) language to a spoken one. The bodily mimesis hypothesis fares better with this objection, since it (a) emphasizes the non-conventionality and non-systematicity of bodily mimetic signaling, (b) posits a long biocultural spiral of conventionalization and adaptation for speech, and (c) insists that the transition to speech should be seen as only partial. Following Brown (2012), a cognitive-semiotic explanation can further be given as to why speech has eventually taken on increasingly higher communicative load: Vocalization is intrinsically less capable of iconic representation, and given a multimodal gestural-vocal communicative signal, the vocal element is bound to eventually take on the role of symbolic representation, involving higher levels of conventionality and systematicity. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Cognitive semiotics, Conventionalization, Gesture, Iconicity, Intersubjectivity, Mimesis, Multimodality, Speech, Symbols
in
The Evolution of Social Communication in Primates: A Multidisciplinary Approach
editor
Pina, Marco; Gontier, Nathalie; and
volume
1
pages
165 - 178
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • wos:000343760100009
ISSN
2199-3068
ISBN
978-3-319-02668-8 (Print)
978-3-319-02669-5 (Online)
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-02669-5_9
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
1100bada-91b3-41b9-89ff-24ad2e4f9722 (old id 4882032)
date added to LUP
2014-12-22 10:51:38
date last changed
2016-04-15 23:01:01
@inbook{1100bada-91b3-41b9-89ff-24ad2e4f9722,
  abstract     = {The chapter reviews evidence for the bodily mimesis hypothesis, which states that the evolution of language was preceded by an adaptation for improved volitional control of the body, giving our ancestors advantages in the domains of imitation, empathy, and gestural communication. Much of this evidence is also shared by other gesture-first theories of language origins, but they face the problem of explaining the "switch" from a gestural (proto) language to a spoken one. The bodily mimesis hypothesis fares better with this objection, since it (a) emphasizes the non-conventionality and non-systematicity of bodily mimetic signaling, (b) posits a long biocultural spiral of conventionalization and adaptation for speech, and (c) insists that the transition to speech should be seen as only partial. Following Brown (2012), a cognitive-semiotic explanation can further be given as to why speech has eventually taken on increasingly higher communicative load: Vocalization is intrinsically less capable of iconic representation, and given a multimodal gestural-vocal communicative signal, the vocal element is bound to eventually take on the role of symbolic representation, involving higher levels of conventionality and systematicity.},
  author       = {Zlatev, Jordan},
  editor       = {Pina, Marco and Gontier, Nathalie},
  isbn         = {978-3-319-02668-8 (Print)},
  issn         = {2199-3068},
  keyword      = {Cognitive semiotics,Conventionalization,Gesture,Iconicity,Intersubjectivity,Mimesis,Multimodality,Speech,Symbols},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {165--178},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {The Evolution of Social Communication in Primates: A Multidisciplinary Approach},
  title        = {Bodily Mimesis and the Transition to Speech},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02669-5_9},
  volume       = {1},
  year         = {2014},
}