Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Beyond prosody and infant-directed speech: Affective, social construction of meaning in the origins of language

Barbara J. King a1 and Stuart Shanker a2
a1 Department of Anthropology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, 23187
a2 Departments of Psychology and Philosophy, Atkinson College, York University, Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3 Canada


Our starting point for the origins of language goes beyond prosody or infant-directed speech to highlight the affective, multimodal, and co-constructed nature of meaning-making that was likely present before the split between African great apes and hominins. Analysis of vocal and gestural caregiving practices in hominins, and of meaning-making via gestural interaction in African great apes, supports our thesis.