MOTOR THEORY AND GESTURE

rmallott at percep.demon.co.uk rmallott at percep.demon.co.uk
Sun Feb 8 18:02:24 EST 1998




forwarded from LINGUIST LIST 30 Jan:

The recent paper in Nature (January 15) by Goldin-Meadow and Mylander on
spontaneous sign language of children in Taiwan and the United States
taken with the remarkable work of Kegl and McWhorter on the gesture
language invented by children in Nicaragua provide convincing
observational evidence for the innate relation between gesture and
language, and indeed more generally for the biological origin of
language systems. This material can be related to increasing evidence
for the fundamental importance of sound symbolism in very many
languages.

More specifically, they support the hypothesis that language evolved as
an exaptation of the previously existing complex cerebral motor control
system and that the effects of the motor origin of language can be
observed and demonstrated in the lexicon and syntax of languages
generally. To the general investigation of the motor theory of language
origin at

http: //www.percep.demon.co.uk

has now been added extensive demonstration of the direct relation
between gesture and language in the form of animated gestural
equivalents of a considerable number of words in English, Japanese,
French (with more cursory treatment of Hebrew, Korean, Finnish,
Hungarian and Basque). To see the animations on the Web it is necessary
to have uptodate versions of Microsoft Explorer or Netscape (but not
necessarily Java). The animations can be seen at:

http://www.percep.demon.co.uk/mappfol.htm

and at pages linked to that.

I hope that it will be possible to find time during the April London
Conference on the Evolution of Language to present the complete
material.

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