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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Comparative research on communication systems in human and non-human primates has struggled to find a common language for comparisons. Research has too often either embraced application of linguistic constructs to animal signals, or eschewed them altogether, with the result being either uncritical acceptance of continuity between human and animal communication, or wholesale dismissal of it. This chapter attempts to better align the discussion of communication in the two groups by highlighting the importance of low-level features of communication indisputably common to both. From this common starting point, the authors of this chapter invoke functional deployability as a critical pressure influencing signal structure and use, emphasizing conserved perceptuocognitive mechanisms as common targets of signal action. In recognizing these foundational building blocks, many productive avenues for future research open up. In particular, the authors suggest that perceptual and cognitive biases that promote certain types of signal-meaning mappings provide a natural, biosemantic substrate on which more robust communicative systems can be built.

Keywords: iconicity, affective semantics, motivatedness, language evolution, bioacoustics, biosemantics, functional deployability, systematicity, comparative psychology, communication

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