Shared semantics: Exploring the interface between human and chimpanzee gestural communication
Matthew Henderson, Patrick Georg Grosz, Kirsty Graham, Catherine Hobaiter, Pritty Patel-Grosz
November 2023

Striking similarities across ape gestural repertoires suggest shared phylogenetic origins that likely provided a foundation for the emergence of language. We pilot a novel approach for exploring possible semantic universals across human and nonhuman ape species. In a forced-choice task, n = 300 participants watched ten chimpanzee gesture forms performed by a human and chose from responses that paralleled inferred meanings for chimpanzee gestures. Participants agreed on a single meaning for nine gesture forms; in six of these the agreed form-meaning pair response(s) matched those established for chimpanzees. Such shared understanding suggests apes’ (including humans’) gesturing shares deep evolutionary origins.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007723
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Mind & Language
keywords: gesture, primates, communication, manual modality, form-meaning mappings, pragmatics, super linguistics, semantics
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