Origins of Human Communication

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-09-30
  • Publisher: Mit Pr
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Winner, 2009 Eleanor Maccoby Book Award in Developmental Psychology, presented by the American Psychological Association. and Honorable Mention, Literature, Language & Linguistics category, 2008 PROSE Awards presented by the Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers. Human communication is grounded in fundamentally cooperative, even shared, intentions. In this original and provocative account of the evolutionary origins of human communication, Michael Tomasello connects the fundamentally cooperative structure of human communication (initially discovered by Paul Grice) to the especially cooperative structure of human (as opposed to other primate) social interaction. Tomasello argues that human cooperative communication rests on a psychological infrastructure of shared intentionality (joint attention, common ground), evolved originally for collaboration and culture more generally. The basic motives of the infrastructure are helping and sharing: humans communicate to request help, inform others of things helpfully, and share attitudes as a way of bonding within the cultural group. These cooperative motives each created different functional pressures for conventionalizing grammatical constructions. Requesting help in the immediate you-and-me and here-and-now, for example, required very little grammar, but informing and sharing required increasingly complex grammatical devices. Drawing on empirical research into gestural and vocal communication by great apes and human infants (much of it conducted by his own research team), Tomasello argues further that humans' cooperative communication emerged first in the natural gestures of pointing and pantomiming. Conventional communication, first gestural and then vocal, evolved only after humans already possessed these natural gestures and their shared intentionality infrastructure along with skills of cultural learning for creating and passing along jointly understood communicative conventions. Challenging the Chomskian view that linguistic knowledge is innate, Tomasello proposes instead that the most fundamental aspects of uniquely human communication are biological adaptations for cooperative social interaction in general and that the purely linguistic dimensions of human communication are cultural conventions and constructions created by and passed along within particular cultural groups. Jean Nicod Lectures A Bradford Book

Table of Contents

Series Forewordp. ix
Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. xi
A Focus on Infrastructurep. 1
Primate Intentional Communicationp. 13
Vocal Displaysp. 15
Gestural Signalsp. 20
Communication with Humansp. 34
Intentionality in Ape Communicationp. 43
Conclusionp. 53
Human Cooperative Communicationp. 57
Pointing and Pantomimingp. 60
The Cooperation Modelp. 72
Communicative Conventionsp. 99
Conclusionp. 107
Ontogenetic Originsp. 109
Infant Pointingp. 111
Sources of Infant Pointingp. 135
Early Pantomimingp. 145
Shared Intentionality and Early Languagep. 154
Conclusionp. 165
Phylogenetic Originsp. 169
The Emergence of Collaborationp. 172
The Emergence of Cooperative Communicationp. 191
The Emergence of Conventional Communicationp. 218
Conclusionp. 237
The Grammatical Dimensionp. 243
The Grammar of Requestingp. 246
The Grammar of Informingp. 270
The Grammar of Sharing and Narrativep. 282
The Conventionalization of Linguistic Constructionsp. 295
Conclusionp. 316
From Ape Gestures to Human Languagep. 319
Summary of the Argumentp. 320
Hypotheses and Problemsp. 327
Language as Shared Intentionalityp. 342
Referencesp. 347
Author Indexp. 373
Subject Indexp. 379
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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