Re: elaine's questions

20 Sep 1995 21:16:06 GMT

Lynn Garth ( wrote:
: I think that sign language definately existed before spoken language (and
: I have some friends that lean toward the telepathic argument but we won't
: go there)

Vocalizations came first--they're quite complex in apes. (Apes can create
symbols as well, per Pribram, 1971) Whether representations were first
signed or spoken is not resolved by that statement, though.
Representations or symbols have a different role than vocalizations, since
you can tell lies with them. I suspect that the first symbols emerged to
coordinate human groups distributed about the terrain at distances beyond
that of immediate communication. From that standpoint, human symbols had
much the same initial purposes as the 'bee dance'.

Harry Erwin
Home Page: (try a couple of times)
PhD student in comp neurosci: "Glitches happen" & "Meaning is emotional"