ERIC Number: EJ826234
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 66
The Gestural Theory of Language Origins
Armstrong, David F.
Sign Language Studies, v8 n3 p289-314 Spr 2008
The idea that iconic visible gesture had something to do with the origin of language, particularly speech, is a frequent element in speculation about this phenomenon and appears early in its history. Socrates hypothesizes about the origins of Greek words in Plato's satirical dialogue, "Cratylus", and his speculation includes a possible role for sound based iconicity as well as for the visual gestures employed by the deaf. Plato's use of satire to broach this topic also points to the fine line between the sublime and the ridiculous that has continued to be a hallmark of this sort of speculation. This paper will present recent evidence supporting the idea that language first arose as visible gesture. This evidence is culled from several lines of research, including research on the neurological underpinnings of gesture, i.e., research on mirror neurons; new research on the gestural communication of African apes; research on the cognitive basis of the signed languages of the deaf; and research on the emergence of new signed languages.
Descriptors: Nonverbal Communication, Deafness, Semiotics, Linguistic Theory, Speech Communication, Diachronic Linguistics, Language Styles, Language Research, Neurology, Animals, Foreign Countries, Cognitive Processes
Gallaudet University Press. 800 Florida Avenue NE, Denison House, Washington, DC 20002-3695. Tel: 202-651-5488; Fax: 202-651-5489; Web site: http://gupress.gallaudet.edu/SLS.html
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Africa