|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Stephen Colbert not only talks about gestures, he makes them throughout his talk. My favorite is the gesture accompanying the reference to a foaming mug of pinot grigiot.
One of the steady disputes on this blog concerns the role of gesture (hand signs) in language origins, so I always welcome new evidence on this issue. PlosOne has recently published a paper titled, "Chimpanzee Signaling Points to a Multimodal Origin of Human Language," by Jared Taglialatela, Jamie Russell, Jennifer Schaeffer, and William Hopkins. Alert regulars at Babel's Dawn may recall previous discussions of work by Taglialatela. He is investigating speech origins by studying chimpanzee brains and determining how language-ready the ape brain was. (See: Broca's Area in Chimpanzees?; Ape Cries are Complex; How Different are Ape Brains from Ours?) This latest paper argues that from the beginning human language has combined vocalization and gesture. That's in keeping my arguments on this blog, but how much confidence can we have in this latest work?