Sculpting Language: A Review of the David McNeill Gesture Trilogy
Daniel Everett
May 2014

This paper is a review article about the pioneering work of G. David McNeill and various others on the interaction of gestures with human language and their vital role in the evolution of human language. McNeill argues, for example, that language and gesture must have begun together, that neither could have preceded the other. He also makes the case that the gesture-syntax connection was the most important step in language evolution and that compositionality and recursion played lesser, secondary (though extremely important) roles. I argue that McNeill's work is compatible with various papers and books of my own, especially Everett (2012). I further argue that McNeill's work supports the research program of "embodied cogntion." I argue that linguistic field researchers, theoreticians, and typologists ought not to work in a "gesture vacuum."
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002084
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: to appear in Dark Matter of the Mind, University of Chicago Press
keywords: gesture, language evolution, growth point, mead's loop, compositionality, recursion, syntax, phonology, semantics, morphology
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