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date: 12 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Three major evolutionary trends are visible in primate communication. The first one has to do with the basic signal production mechanisms being increasingly controlled by complex cognition. This is evident by audience effects with gestural and vocal signals and by context-specific call sequences. The second transition has to do with increased control over signal morphology, a feature somewhat visible in ape vocal and gestural communication and particularly human language. The third transition is apparent in signal-processing mechanisms, which are increasingly based on learned world facts, rather than mere stimulus-response conditioning. Human communication appears to differ only gradually from other primates in these domains, apart from a highly cooperative social motivation, which influences human communication in profound ways.

Keywords: Cognition, flexibility, semantic, syntax, language evolution, social awareness, intention, social intelligence, vocal learning

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