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This book proposes a radical alternative to dominant views of the evolution of language, and in particular the origins of syntax. The authors argue that manual and vocal communication developed in parallel, and that the basic elements of syntax are intrinsic to gesture. They draw on evidence from areas such as primatology, anthropology, and linguistics, to present a groundbreaking account of the notion that language emerged through visible bodily action. They go on to examine the implications of their findings for linguistic theory and theories of the biological evolution of the capacity for language. Written in a clear and accessible style, Gesture and the Nature of Language will be indispensable reading for all those interested in the origins of language.Read more
- William Stokoe is a pioneer of modern research on sign language
- This topic is currently attracting a good deal of attention in linguistics, anthropology, cognitive science, and psychology
- New line of approach to the subject; written in clear, lucid style
Reviews & endorsements
'The authors display a broad and deep scholarship, often provocative and stimulating, but never tendentious, and happily free of the polemic tone that mars much linguistic argument.' Michael Studdert-KennedySee more reviews
'This book links studies of sign language and gesture with recent ideas about human evolution in a highly interesting way. It presents the important idea of 'semantic phonology' and suggests how syntax may have arisen from the inherent structure of practical actions.' Adam Kendon
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- Date Published: March 1995
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521467728
- length: 272 pages
- dimensions: 213 x 140 x 18 mm
- weight: 0.35kg
- contains: 6 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. The universe of gesture
2. The nature of gesture
3. Are signed and spoken languages differently organized?
4. Is language modular?
5. Do we have a genetically programmed drive to acquire language?
6. Language from the body politic
7. The origin of syntax: gesture as name and relation
8. Language from the body: an evolutionary perspective
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