Sintassi, Prosodia e Socialità: le Origini del Linguaggio Verbale

Filippi, P. (2012). Sintassi, Prosodia e Socialità: le Origini del Linguaggio Verbale. PhD Thesis, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo.
What is the key cognitive ability that makes humans unique among all the other animals? Our work aims at contributing to this research question adopting a comparative and philosophical approach to the origins of verbal language. In particular, we adopt three strands of analysis that are relevant in the context of comparative investigation on the the origins of verbal language: a) research on the evolutionary ‘homologies’, which provides information on the phylogenetic traits that humans and other primates share with their common ancestor; b) investigations on “analogous” traits, aimed at finding the evolutionary pressures that guided the emergence of the same biological traits that evolved independently in phylogenetically distant species; the ontogenetic development of the ability to produce and understand verbal language in human infants. Within this comparative approach, we focus on three key apsects that we addressed bridging recent empiric evidence on language processing with philosophical investigations on verbal language: (i) pattern processing as a biologocal precursor of syntax and algebraic rule acquisition, (ii) sound modulation as a guide to pattern comprehension in speech, animal vocalization and music, (iii) social strategies for mutual understanding, survival and group cohesion. We conclude emphasizing the interplay between these three sets of cognitive processes as a fundamental dimension grounding the emergence of the human ability for propositional language.
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