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Author Topic: Did body language pre-date the spoken word?  (Read 1532 times)

Offline thedoc

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Did body language pre-date the spoken word?
« on: 13/07/2013 08:30:01 »
Mike Greenwood  asked the Naked Scientists:
   I spent some years in Mindanao where you can see macaque monkeys' eyebrows going up and down, like flags, as their facial expressions change, indicating their mood to their neighbours.

The tribespeople AND the urbanised people do the same; "raising your eyebrows" helps communication in cultures where body-language is important (120 different dialects in Philippines makes body language more important) and before spoken langauge evolved eyebrows must have been crucial. I guess...?

Mike






What do you think?
« Last Edit: 13/07/2013 08:30:01 by _system »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Did body language pre-date the spoken word?
« Reply #1 on: 15/07/2013 07:19:13 »
My guess is that language evolved with a combination of body language and spoken words. 

Certainly many animals use body language as an important part of their communication and mating rituals.  However, most animals have some level of vocalizations which I have to assume are an important part of their communication, especially when attempting to gain attention at a distance.  While humans aren't too great at understanding animals, it is possible to understand the general intent of several different barks and growls that a dog might make.  And, of course, noticing body language such as hanging out near the door.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Did body language pre-date the spoken word?
« Reply #2 on: 16/07/2013 23:30:45 »
I wonder if some gestures are easier for inter-species communication than something like spoken words.

I had a mouse or shrew that got into my house a couple of days ago.  I don't know if it knew I was watching it if I wasn't moving much but it certainly was quick to react with any movement. 

One day it was kind of looking at me so I decided to display my pearly whites...  And the mouse vanished very quickly.

Anyway, one can certainly see dogs doing things like hanging out by the door, and even some expressions like remorseful looks and putting their tail between their legs. 

One can certainly imagine complex gestures developing in early man, but perhaps also gestures + vocalizations.
 

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Re: Did body language pre-date the spoken word?
« Reply #2 on: 16/07/2013 23:30:45 »

 

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