Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access JSTOR through your library or other institution:

login

Log in through your institution.

Journal Article

Nonhuman Primate Communication, Pragmatics, and the Origins of Language

Thomas C. Scott-Phillips
Current Anthropology
Vol. 56, No. 1 (February 2015), pp. 56-80
DOI: 10.1086/679674
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/679674
Page Count: 25
Were these topics helpful?
See somethings inaccurate? Let us know!

Select the topics that are inaccurate.

Cancel
  • More info
  • Add to My Lists
  • Cite this Item
Nonhuman Primate Communication, Pragmatics, and the Origins of Language
Preview not available

Abstract

Comparisons with the cognition and communication of other species have long informed discussions of the origins and evolution of human communication and language. This research has often focused on similarities and differences with the linguistic code, but more recently there has been an increased focus on the social-cognitive foundations of linguistic communication. However, exactly what these comparisons tell us is not clear because the theoretical concepts used in the animal communication literature are different from those used in the corresponding literature on human communication, specifically those used in linguistic pragmatics. In this article, I bridge the gap between these two areas and in doing so specify exactly what great ape communication tells us about the origins of human communication and language. I conclude that great ape communication probably does not share the same social-cognitive foundations as linguistic communication but that it probably does involve the use of metacognitive abilities that, once they evolved to a more sophisticated degree, were exapted for use in what is an evolutionarily novel form of communication: human ostensive communication. This in turn laid the foundations for the emergence of linguistic communication. More generally, I highlight the often-neglected importance of pragmatics for the study of language origins.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
1
    1
  • Thumbnail: Page 
2
    2
  • Thumbnail: Page 
3
    3
  • Thumbnail: Page 
4
    4
  • Thumbnail: Page 
5
    5
  • Thumbnail: Page 
6
    6
  • Thumbnail: Page 
7
    7
  • Thumbnail: Page 
8
    8
  • Thumbnail: Page 
9
    9
  • Thumbnail: Page 
10
    10
  • Thumbnail: Page 
11
    11
  • Thumbnail: Page 
12
    12
  • Thumbnail: Page 
13
    13
  • Thumbnail: Page 
14
    14
  • Thumbnail: Page 
15
    15
  • Thumbnail: Page 
16
    16
  • Thumbnail: Page 
17
    17
  • Thumbnail: Page 
18
    18
  • Thumbnail: Page 
19
    19
  • Thumbnail: Page 
20
    20
  • Thumbnail: Page 
21
    21
  • Thumbnail: Page 
22
    22
  • Thumbnail: Page 
23
    23
  • Thumbnail: Page 
24
    24
  • Thumbnail: Page 
25
    25