However, their ability to acquire visible-gesture communication is much greater. This shows that the common ancestors of chimpanzees and humans had a substantial capacity for communication with visible gestures.
The evolution of grammar and syntax is explained by the authors using semantic phonology. In this concept, hands are prototypical nouns, and their actions are prototypical verbs. When this hand acts on the other hand, the second hand acts as the object.
The modern sign languages originate in societies when certain conditions are present; among a group of deaf people, and in situations where speaking is prohibited or impossible (p. 312). Some examples are French Sign Language (FSL), American Sign Language (ASL), and Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL) (p. 313). However, whether this ability to create language and grammar is innate or acquired from society is still controversial (p. 315).
The chapter “What is a Language?” looks into the characteristics of a language. The first argument is that a language contains symbols and grammatical signals. In other words, there are words or signs representing something else and grammatical structures to show how the symbols are related (p. 31). However, these grammatical signals vary from language to language.
The next point is that every language contains relatively arbitrary symbols and grammatical signals. While some symbols are iconic, some are arbitrary. The point is that without a certain degree of arbitrariness, it will not be possible to talk about a number of things. Some examples are abstract things like love, beauty and faith (p. 39).
Finally, the conclusion is that a language is a system of “relatively arbitrary symbols and grammatical structures that change over time” and that is used by “members of a community” to interact with each other, to convey ideas and to transmit culture (p. 44).
ASL had its origin in the year 1817 when Gallaudet and Clerc established the ...Show more