Pointing in the right direction. A discussion of The evolution of social communication in primates, eds. M. Pina and N. Gontier

Agnieszka Dębska

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/ths-2014-010

Abstract


The Evolution of Social Communication in Primates, edited by Marco  Pina and Natalie Gontier is an important contribution to the current debates on language evolution. The volume includes texts discussing  the emergence of basic social skills connected with language,  arguments for vocal and gestural protolanguage, and theories of  development of symbolic and compositional language in the history of  humanity. In this review, I present the structure and content of the  book, but also highlight issues that reflect key controversies in this  research area, such as the transition from gestures to speech and from  simple vocalizations to modern language. I discuss one specific issue,  pointing in nonhuman primates and human children, to offer some  remarks on theoretical and empirical criteria for using psychological  concepts in debates on social communication in primates.


Keywords


language evolution; evolution of social communication; primates; comparative psychology; pointing

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