Emotional and Interactional Prosody across Animal Communication Systems: A Comparative Approach to the Emergence of Language
Emotional and Interactional Prosody across Animal Communication Systems: A Comparative Approach to the Emergence of Language. Frontiers in Psychology, 7
: 1393. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01393.
Across a wide range of animal taxa, prosodic modulation of the voice can express
emotional information and is used to coordinate vocal interactions between multiple
individuals. Within a comparative approach to animal communication systems, I
hypothesize that the ability for emotional and interactional prosody (EIP) paved the way
for the evolution of linguistic prosody – and perhaps also of music, continuing to play
a vital role in the acquisition of language. In support of this hypothesis, I review three
research fields: (i) empirical studies on the adaptive value of EIP in non-human primates,
mammals, songbirds, anurans, and insects; (ii) the beneficial effects of EIP in scaffolding
language learning and social development in human infants; (iii) the cognitive relationship
between linguistic prosody and the ability for music, which has often been identified as
the evolutionary precursor of language.