Breath, vocal, and supralaryngeal flexibility in a human-reared gorilla

Clark, N., & Perlman, M. (2014). Breath, vocal, and supralaryngeal flexibility in a human-reared gorilla. In B. De Boer, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of Evolang X, Workshop on Signals, Speech, and Signs (pp. 11-15).
“Gesture-first” theories dismiss ancestral great apes’ vocalization as a substrate for language evolution based on the claim that extant apes exhibit minimal learning and volitional control of vocalization. Contrary to this claim, we present data of novel learned and voluntarily controlled vocal behaviors produced by a human-fostered gorilla (G. gorilla gorilla). These behaviors demonstrate varying degrees of flexibility in the vocal apparatus (including diaphragm, lungs, larynx, and supralaryngeal articulators), and are predominantly performed in coordination with manual behaviors and gestures. Instead of a gesture-first theory, we suggest that these findings support multimodal theories of language evolution in which vocal and gestural forms are coordinated and supplement one another
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