The origin of language in gesture–speech unity

Part 5: The dynamic dimension, modes of consciousness.

David McNeill, University of Chicago

The dual semiosis of global-synthetic gesture, merging with analytic-combinatoric speech, synchronizing at points where they are co-expressive – namely, gesture–speech unity – led to other dynamic properties: the imagery–language dialectic, and three others, “psychological predicates,” “communicative dynamism,” and that GPs self-unpack by “calling” constructions to do it.

Collectively these properties comprise “the sentence” viewed dynamically.  Dynamic properties arose organically out of Mead’s Loop. They would not have been separately selected. They are among the “new actions” mentioned in Part 4, are themselves linked and are inseparable from context. The context, dynamic in itself, penetrates GPs and leads ineluctably to dynamic properties.

We will also see that Wundt’s two consciousnesses of the sentence, . . . → Read More: The origin of language in gesture–speech unity

The origin of language in gesture–speech unity

Part 3: Mead’s Loop (1).

by Professor David McNeill

Part 1 of this series put forth the idea that language is inseparable from imagery, in particular the imagery of gesture, and that theories of language origin can be judged by how well they predict this gesture–speech unity.  The second part applied the test to a widely held origin theory, gesture-first, and found it wanting – doubly so, in fact. This part applies the test to a new hypothesis, which I call “Mead’s Loop.”

Mead’s Loop holds that gesture was essential in the origin of language.  In this it agrees with gesture-first, but differs in that, it says, gesture and speech had to be naturally selected together.  Rather than gesture-first (or speech-first), gesture and speech . . . → Read More: The origin of language in gesture–speech unity

The origin of language in gesture–speech unity

Part 1: Language and Imagery

By Professor David McNeill

Why do we gesture? Many would say that it brings emphasis, energy, and ornamentation to speech (which is assumed to be the core of what is taking place); in short, as Adam Kendon says, also arguing against the view, gesture is an “add-on.”  However, the evidence is against this.  The reasons we gesture are more profound. Language is inseparable from imagery. The natural form of imagery with language is gesture, with the hands especially.  While gestures can enhance communication, the core is gesture and speech together. They are bound more tightly than saying the gesture is an “add-on” or “ornament” implies. Even if for some reason a gesture is not made (social inappropriateness, physical . . . → Read More: The origin of language in gesture–speech unity