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The Gestural Origin of Language - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Gestural Origin of Language

David F. Armstrong and Sherman E. Wilcox


This book uses evidence from and about sign languages to explore the origins of language as we know it today. According to the model presented in this book, it is sign, not spoken languages, that is the original mode of human communication. The book demonstrates that modern language is derived from practical actions and gestures that were increasingly recognized as having the potential to represent and hence to communicate. In other words, the fundamental ability that allows us to use language is our ability to use pictures of icons, rather than linguistic symbols. Evidence from the human foss ... More

Keywords: sign language, human communication, actions, gestures, icons, pictures, symbols, speech

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2007 Print ISBN-13: 9780195163483
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195163483.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

David F. Armstrong, author

Sherman E. Wilcox, author
University of New Mexico