Language evolution: Semantic combinations in primate calls

  title={Language evolution: Semantic combinations in primate calls},
  author={Kate Arnold and Klaus Zuberb{\"u}hler},
Syntax sets human language apart from other natural communication systems, although its evolutionary origins are obscure. Here we show that free-ranging putty-nosed monkeys combine two vocalizations into different call sequences that are linked to specific external events, such as the presence of a predator and the imminent movement of the group. Our findings indicate that non-human primates can combine calls into higher-order sequences that have a particular meaning. 

Call combinations in monkeys: Compositional or idiomatic expressions?

Language evolution: syntax before phonology?

A linguistically informed review of animal call sequences demonstrates that phonology in animal vocal systems is rare, whereas syntax is more widespread, and hypothesize that syntax, present in all languages, evolved before phonology.

Linguistic capacity of non-human animals.

  • K. Zuberbühler
  • Psychology, Biology
    Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. Cognitive science
  • 2015
There is evidence for both continuity and discontinuity when comparing modern primate and human communication, suggesting that the origin of language is the result of multiple gradual transitions from earlier forms of primate-like communication and social cognition, rather than a sudden and fundamental redesign in ancestral human communication and cognition.

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We argue that an understanding of the faculty of language requires substantial interdisciplinary cooperation. We suggest how current developments in linguistics can be profitably wedded to work in

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Nonverbal Vocal Communication: Comparative and Developmental Approaches

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