From Holophrase to Syntax: Intonation and the Victory of Voice over Gesture
In the origin of syntax, primitive, holophrastic signs had to be weakened (original, drastic ‘bleaching’) and to lose their previous status of whole message. The original syntax was probably thema/rhema syntax. The earliest themas repeat the hearer’s message: the speaker embeds the hearer’s message in his own message. In this way a holophrase could be weakened, and turn into a part of a syntactic combination. This pregrammatical, interpersonal ‘recursive embedding’ is embodied in sensorimotor processes. The upper level is embodied in the intonation; the lower level, in the articulatory-phonetic word. This decoupling of intonation and articulatory pattern—i.e. the emergence of intonation capable of comprising more than one word—facilitated the weakening of previous holophrases and the genesis of syntax. In time, that facilitation determined the preeminence of voice over gesture, regardless of whether or not that preeminence existed before syntax.
Copyright (c) 2014 the author
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.