Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-mdtzd Total loading time: 0.215 Render date: 2021-10-21T16:54:56.634Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

5 - Invention and community in the emergence of language: Insights from new sign languages

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2010

Steven M. Platek
Affiliation:
Georgia Gwinnett College
Todd K. Shackelford
Affiliation:
Florida Atlantic University
Get access

Summary

Conceptual frameworks

What was the interplay of biological and cultural evolution in yielding modern humans with their rich, flexible, and diverse languages? What has biological evolution contributed to the innate capabilities of the human brain that allow human children to master language and how has society evolved to develop those capabilities? I approach these questions through analysis of the recent development of two new sign languages: Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL), which developed in just 25 years within a community of deaf Nicaraguans, and Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL), which developed over a period of at most 70 years in a community of deaf and speaking Bedouin. Understanding the tradeoff between innate capabilities and social influences in the emergence of NSL and ABSL will ground an understanding of how these modern social influences may differ from those available to early humans at the dawn of language.

The mirror system hypothesis (MSH) is a specific theory of the evolution of the human “language-ready brain.” It is informed by the view that language is a multimodal system of production and performance that involves voice, hands, and face. Speaking humans accompany their speech with facial expressions and cospeech gestures of the hands (Kendon, 2004; McNeill, 1992, 2005), while many deaf people employ signed languages that are very different from spoken languages – with specific signs (which may integrate arm, hand, and face movements) that are part of a conventionalized system with limited resemblance to cospeech gestures. Details of MSH are set forth in Arbib (2005a, developing the insights of Arbib and Rizzolatti, 1997; Rizzolatti and Arbib, 1998), with commentaries and a response.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
1
Cited by

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×