Language: do gestures or sounds come first? A study explains it
A group of researchers conducted two experiments to look for empirical evidence on the origin of language, in which both gestures and voice were taken into consideration. In each of these experiments they tested the ability of modern humans to communicate a variety of meanings.
This ability to communicate that we humans have differentiates us from other species of animals. It allows us to preserve and build knowledge across generations. And through the language we can express our emotions and feelings, something that also makes us unique. But much of the evolution of this ability remains a mystery, including its origins.
Origin of language: from gestures to vocalization
To find out if our human ancestors made sounds or gesticulated, they were carried out some experiments. To do this, the researchers tested whether there was a predominance of gestures or sounds to convey meanings.
The researchers recruited two groups of 30 volunteers from different cultures, Australian and Vanuatu. Participants had to try to convey specific meanings through non-verbal gestures or vocalizations. The same exercise was repeated with 10 sighted and 10 blind volunteers. They were asked to produce gestural or non-verbal communications. Meanwhile, a group of college students had to try to figure out what those signs meant. Scientists have found that the communication it was twice as successful when producers gestured rather than vocalized. This happened both interculturally and when they were blind or sighted.
Thus, the research team was able to determine that the theory of the origin of language prioritizes gestures over sounds.
Thanks to the experiments, the researchers were able to verify that i The participants’ gestural signs were much more similar to each other than the vocal cues. They were also able to perceive the same thing in blind volunteers. Communication was successful despite the fact that they could not make sounds understandable to people who came from other cultures. The same to achieve communication with deaf people. This led the researchers to confirm that gesture cues are more universal than speech cues.
Another conclusion reached by the research team was that i language-related cognitive systems haven’t changed much in 500,000 years. The researchers point out that it is possible that both forms of communication evolved at the same time. Both the screams and the gestures are universal, so it’s possible that humans have always used a combination of both. But, due to various tests, we may have relied on gestures earlier. This ability is something we share with our closest relatives, non-human primates. Furthermore, it is shown that young children and chimpanzees use similar gestures to communicate. Therefore, it is possible that from the very beginning, before the first words emerged, our hands served us to communicate with others.