Pointing and the Evolution of Language: An Applied Evolutionary Epistemological Approach
Numerous evolutionary linguists have indicated that human pointing behaviour might be associated with the evolution of language. At an ontogenetic level, and in normal individuals, pointing develops spontaneously and the onset of human pointing precedes as well as facilitates phases in speech and language development. Phylogenetically, pointing behaviour might have preceded and facilitated the evolutionary origin of both gestural and vocal language. Contrary to wild non-human primates, captive and human-reared nonhuman primates also demonstrate pointing behaviour. In this article, we analyse the debates on pointing and its role it might have played in language evolution from a meta-level. From within an Applied Evolutionary Epistemological approach, we examine how exactly we can determine whether pointing has been a unit, a level or a mechanism in language evolution.
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