Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Transition to language: From agent perception to event representation


Zuberbühler, Klaus; Bickel, Balthasar (2022). Transition to language: From agent perception to event representation. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 13(6):e1594.

Abstract

Spoken language, as we have it, requires specific capacities—at its most basic advanced vocal control and complex social cognition. In humans, vocal control is the basis for speech, achieved through coordinated interactions of larynx activity and rapid changes in vocal tract configurations. Most likely, speech evolved in response to early humans perceiving reality in increasingly complex ways, to the effect that primate-like signaling became unsustainable as a sole communication device. However, in what ways did and do humans see the world in more complex ways compared to other species? Although animal signals can refer to external events, in contrast to humans, they usually refer to the agents only, sometimes in compositional ways, but never together with patients. It may be difficult for animals to comprehend events as part of larger social scripts, with antecedent causes and future consequences, which are more typically tie the patient into the event. Human brain enlargement over the last million years probably has provided the cognitive resources to represent social interactions as part of bigger social scripts, which enabled humans to go beyond an agent-focus to refer to agent–patient relations, the likely foundation for the evolution of grammar.

This article is categorized under:

Cognitive Biology > Evolutionary Roots of Cognition
Linguistics > Evolution of Language
Psychology > Comparative

Abstract

Spoken language, as we have it, requires specific capacities—at its most basic advanced vocal control and complex social cognition. In humans, vocal control is the basis for speech, achieved through coordinated interactions of larynx activity and rapid changes in vocal tract configurations. Most likely, speech evolved in response to early humans perceiving reality in increasingly complex ways, to the effect that primate-like signaling became unsustainable as a sole communication device. However, in what ways did and do humans see the world in more complex ways compared to other species? Although animal signals can refer to external events, in contrast to humans, they usually refer to the agents only, sometimes in compositional ways, but never together with patients. It may be difficult for animals to comprehend events as part of larger social scripts, with antecedent causes and future consequences, which are more typically tie the patient into the event. Human brain enlargement over the last million years probably has provided the cognitive resources to represent social interactions as part of bigger social scripts, which enabled humans to go beyond an agent-focus to refer to agent–patient relations, the likely foundation for the evolution of grammar.

This article is categorized under:

Cognitive Biology > Evolutionary Roots of Cognition
Linguistics > Evolution of Language
Psychology > Comparative

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics
2 citations in Web of Science®
2 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

53 downloads since deposited on 02 Jun 2022
19 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Comparative Language Science
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Special Collections > NCCR Evolving Language
Special Collections > Centers of Competence > Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language Evolution
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
890 Other literatures
410 Linguistics
Language:English
Date:1 November 2022
Deposited On:02 Jun 2022 17:01
Last Modified:27 Apr 2024 01:37
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1939-5078
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/wcs.1594
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID310030_185324
  • : Project TitleThe origins of syntax
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100015_182845
  • : Project TitleErgativity, Event Cognition and Evolutionary Biases in Language
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID51NF40_180888
  • : Project TitleNCCR Evolving Language (phase I)
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)