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Human uniqueness, bodily mimesis and the evolution of language

Zlatev, Jordan LU (2014) In Humana.Mente
Abstract
I argue that an evolutionary adaptation for bodily mimesis, the volitional use of the body as a representational devise, is the “small difference” that gave rise to unique and yet pre-linguistic features of humanity such as (over)imitation, pedagogy, intentional communication and the possibility of a cumulative, representational culture. Furthermore, it is this that made the evolution of language possible. In support for the thesis that speech evolved atop bodily mimesis and a transitional multimodal protolanguage, I review evidence for the extensive presence of sound-symbolism in modern languages, for its psychological reality in adults, and for its contribution to language acquisition in children. On a meta-level, the argument is that... (More)
I argue that an evolutionary adaptation for bodily mimesis, the volitional use of the body as a representational devise, is the “small difference” that gave rise to unique and yet pre-linguistic features of humanity such as (over)imitation, pedagogy, intentional communication and the possibility of a cumulative, representational culture. Furthermore, it is this that made the evolution of language possible. In support for the thesis that speech evolved atop bodily mimesis and a transitional multimodal protolanguage, I review evidence for the extensive presence of sound-symbolism in modern languages, for its psychological reality in adults, and for its contribution to language acquisition in children. On a meta-level, the argument is that dividing human cognitive-semiotic evolution into a sequence of stages is crucial for resolving classical dichotomies on human nature and language, which are both natural and cultural, both continuous with and discontinuous from those of (other) animals. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
sound symbolism, representation, iconicity, cross-modality, conventionality
in
Humana.Mente
issue
27
publisher
Humana.Mente
ISSN
1972-1293
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
79a4cce5-d09a-4936-a3c3-c95f44e76834 (old id 4924623)
alternative location
http://www.humanamente.eu/PDF/Issue27_Papers_Zlatev.pdf
date added to LUP
2015-01-13 15:44:17
date last changed
2016-04-16 01:37:57
@article{79a4cce5-d09a-4936-a3c3-c95f44e76834,
  abstract     = {I argue that an evolutionary adaptation for bodily mimesis, the volitional use of the body as a representational devise, is the “small difference” that gave rise to unique and yet pre-linguistic features of humanity such as (over)imitation, pedagogy, intentional communication and the possibility of a cumulative, representational culture. Furthermore, it is this that made the evolution of language possible. In support for the thesis that speech evolved atop bodily mimesis and a transitional multimodal protolanguage, I review evidence for the extensive presence of sound-symbolism in modern languages, for its psychological reality in adults, and for its contribution to language acquisition in children. On a meta-level, the argument is that dividing human cognitive-semiotic evolution into a sequence of stages is crucial for resolving classical dichotomies on human nature and language, which are both natural and cultural, both continuous with and discontinuous from those of (other) animals.},
  author       = {Zlatev, Jordan},
  issn         = {1972-1293},
  keyword      = {sound symbolism,representation,iconicity,cross-modality,conventionality},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {27},
  publisher    = {Humana.Mente},
  series       = {Humana.Mente},
  title        = {Human uniqueness, bodily mimesis and the evolution of language},
  year         = {2014},
}