1932

Abstract

Detailed comparative studies have revealed many surface similarities between linguistic communication and the communication of nonhumans. How should we interpret these discoveries in linguistic and cognitive perspective? We review the literature with a specific focus on analogy (similar features and function but not shared ancestry) and homology (shared ancestry). We conclude that combinatorial features of animal communication are analogous but not homologous to natural language. Homologies are found instead in cognitive capacities of attention manipulation, which are enriched in humans, making possible many distinctive forms of communication, including language use. We therefore present a new, graded taxonomy of means of attention manipulation, including a new class we call Ladyginian, which is related to but slightly broader than the more familiar class of Gricean interaction. Only in the latter do actors have the goal of revealing specifically informative intentions. Great ape interaction may be best characterized as Ladyginian but not Gricean.

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2023-01-17
2024-06-13
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