Giuliana Pulvirenti

Naturalising the Faculty of Language. Some Reflections on the Role of Morphological Structures and Developmental Processes in the Evolutions of Primate Vocal Behavior

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Keywords: Language Evolution, Primate Ontogeny, Vocal Development, Morphological Constraints, Heterochrony, Early Social Interactions.

Language is a complex human trait made of several components at various levels of biological organization. Given such a complexity, a pluralistic approach to the study of the biological underpinnings of language is required. In this framework, the comparative analysis of primates’ morphological structures and developmental processes may represent a fundamental tool in order to identify bodily constraints and heterocronic variations that may have favoured or precluded the emergence of language in the primate lineage. These aspects have been recognised among new Evo/Devo and embodied approaches to cognition (in contrast to genecentric, cerebrocentric and computational ones). In light of these considerations, selected data are compared and discussed in relation to the development of early socio-communicative skills and vocal behaviors of primate species.

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