Behavioral and Brain Sciences



Open Peer Commentary
MacNeilage: Evolution of speech

Content first, frame later


John J. Ohala a1
a1 Department of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 ohala@cogsci.berkeley.edu http://trill.berkeley.edu/users/ohala

Abstract

There is not enough reason to believe that syllables are primary in speech and evolved from the cyclic movements of chewing. There are many differences between chewing and speech and it is equally plausible that what is primary in speech is a succession of auditorily robust modulations of various acoustic parameters (amplitude, periodicity, spectrum, pitch); syllables could have evolved from this.