Are ape gestures like words? Outstanding issues in detecting similarities and differences between human language and ape gesture
MetadataShow full item record
Altmetrics Handle Statistics
Altmetrics DOI Statistics
Opinion piece: ape gestures are made intentionally, inviting parallels with human language; but how similar are their gestures to words? Here we ask this in three ways, considering: flexibility and ambiguity, first- and second-order intentionality, and usage in interactive exchanges. Many gestures are used to achieve several, often very distinct, goals. Such apparent ambiguity in meaning is potentially disruptive for communication, but—as with human language—situational and interpersonal context may largely resolve the intended meaning. Our evidence for first-order intentional use of gesture is abundant, but how might we establish a case for the second-order intentional use critical to language? Finally, words are rarely used in tidy signal–response sequences but are exchanged in back-and-forth interaction. Do gestures share this property? In this paper, we examine these questions and set out ways in which they can be resolved, incorporating data from wild chimpanzees.
Hobaiter , C , Graham , K & Byrne , R W 2022 , ' Are ape gestures like words? Outstanding issues in detecting similarities and differences between human language and ape gesture ' , Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , vol. 377 , no. 1860 . https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2021.0301
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Open Access. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
DescriptionK.E.G. and C.H. received funding from the European Union's 8th Framework Programme, Horizon 2020, under grant agreement no. 802719.
Items in the St Andrews Research Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.