Linguistics and the Human Sciences, Vol 1, No 2 (2005)

Conversational vocal exchanges and the evolution of spoken meaning

Jared P. Taglialatela, Lauren A. Taglialatela
Issued Date: 18 Feb 2007


Communicative vocal exchanges between familiar individuals in direct contact with one another are a fundamental component of human spoken language. These conversations
undoubtedly played a significant role in the evolution of human speech, and are no less important in the daily life of individuals today. Therefore, vocal exchanges present a fruitful area of study for those interested in the evolution of human spoken language. Despite this, primatologists have typically focused on relatively stereotyped ‘broadcast’ or ‘alarm’ vocalizations rather than vocal exchanges among and between
familiar individuals in close proximity of one another. Nonetheless, a few researchers have recognized the importance of studying vocal exchanges among conspecific nonhuman primates in affiliative contexts and have noted similarities between these vocal exchanges and human conversation. This paper addresses the question: if and to what extent does the vocal behavior of non-human primates engaged in close-range vocal exchanges exhibit characteristics that are elemental to human conversation?

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DOI: 10.1558/lhs.2005.1.2.225


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