Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

A shrug is not a sentence

Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy a1

a1 Department of Linguistics, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand


Corballis's claim that the origin of syntax lies in solely gesture is contested. His scenario does not explain why constraints on syntactic “movement” are apparently part of the human biological endowment for language. It also does not pay enough attention to the internal structure of sentences, and how they contrast with other linguistic units such as noun phrases.