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From August 11 2001
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"Words are the natural evolutionary product of the functioning of the brain. The forms of individual words are not arbitrary but directly derived from and related to the meaning of the words."

"Speech is the result of an evolutionary exaptation: the establishment in humans of a direct connection between the cortical motor control system and the articulatory apparatus(see Jürgens)"

"In the evolution of language, shapes or objects seen, sounds heard, and actions perceived or performed, generated neural motor programs which, on transfer to the vocal apparatus, produced words structurally correlated with the perceived shapes, objects, sounds and actions."

"The motor program generating the word, an articulatory gesture, also generates an equivalent bodily gesture. Gesture mediates between word-structure and word-meaning. In the case of a different word in a different language for the same meaning, a similar final gesture is generated by a different intermediate trajectory associated with different speech-sound elements going to form the different word."

"The gesture associated with the meaning of any word can be observed by mentally transferring the sound-structure of the word (the articulatory gesture) to the musculature of the arms."

"Children are able to acquire words effortlessly, that is to link a word to an object or action, because, when the motor control system has sufficiently matured, the neural motor program generated by the perception of the particular object or action is matched instantaneously with the equivalent motor program generated on hearing the word which, in the particular language community, is structurally derived from the perceived object or action."

See Science 27 Feb 2004 The Origin of Speech The Motor Route




NEW ! How children acquire language: The Motor Theory Account
A Commentary on "Early Language Acquisition: Cracking the Speech Code". Patricia Kuhl Nature November 2004 5: 831-843 [download her Review pdf ]


LACUS: "Language as a Mirror of the World"
From GRAZIANO: Motor Primitives for arm movement and speech
NOT PINKER: A new view of Irregular Verbs
AISB: Imitation in Language and Speech

LOS: Motor Theory
ESSCS: Motor Control and Language Function
Motor control references
"Language allows us to analyse (decompose, mirror) the structure of our actions, to identify the neural sub-actions constituting the total action."

All bodily movements are changes in posture - and posture is body-image. We visualise any movement (of arm, leg, head, hand, mouth) as a change in body-image, a change in posture - the movement brings our actual posture into coincidence with our visualised new body-image, visualised posture. ... Perception appears to be a process similar to that by which the chameleon changes its bodily state to match its background. Perception (on the chameleon theory) is internal ordering guided by external ordering. The perception of speech and the perception of gesture are aspects of this chameleon-process. Ideomotor action is the reverse process. Both stem from the integration of the motor system and perception. [Extract from R. Allott 1994. Gestural Equivalence of Language LOS UCAL Berkeley]
cf. Merleau-Ponty, M. 1962. Phenomenology of Perception(Trans). "Every external perception is immediately synonymous with a certain perception of my body... The theory of the body schema is, implicitly, a theory of perception". Also cf. "embodied simulation" in Gallese, V. 2003. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. (1431):517-28.

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GIGI: general presentation Function words Verbs Nouns Adjectives Interrogatives Auxiliaries System tables
Domestic animals Wild animals Birds Apples Colours Philosophy Basic 100 Words Motor theory experiment


Physical Foundation Natural Origin Primitive Vocabulary Meaning Colour naming
Structural interrelations Non-arbitrariness Lexicon structure Evolutionary origin Power of words
Hypnosis Science & Language Philosophy & Language Motor theory Japanese
Autism Language motor function Language diversity Semiosis Perception
Syntax Sound symbolism Alphabet origin Gestural equivalence Language Instinct?
Ideomotor action Role of language Isomorphism & Iconicity Glossary Cat sat on the Mat
Irregular verbs Neurology Motor primitives Powerpt Motor theory Motor control and language
Imitation and Language Language as a Mirror of the World


Objective morality Love & empathy Arts & Sociobiology Biomathematics Biomusic
Biopoetry Human life Next 2 billion years Culture: The missing link Antheap or drugged society
Social cohesion Group & Nation Identity


Cool Steps in the Mind Univeral organism MM Markings Fragments Sonnets
Nishida Marcus Aurelius Thomas Browne Hazlitt Herder de Brosses Not alone
Cleanthes Helen Keller Time Gravity Giants Geneva Macbeth extracts
Masha Family Fratres Song Birdsong Greek Fragments Other Verse Other languages Verse



Word sound/meaning categories

  • Philosophical Gestures


  • Cool
  • Steps in the mind
  • Organism
  • MM

  • Markings
  • Fragments
  • Greek Fragments
  • Hymn to Zeus

  • Helen Keller Language and Consciousness
  • Time and Consciousness: Presentation or Text
  • Nishida (Kyoto)An Enquiry into the Good 1921
  • Marcus Aurelius Meditations
  • Sir Thomas Browne Christian Morals
  • Hazlitt 1778-1830

  • Herder Essay on the Origin of Language 1772
  • Charles de Brosses Traité de la Formation Méchanique des Langues
    et des Principes Physiques de l'Etymologie 1765

  • Gravity as a Repulsive Force
  • Giants and Constellations

  • Geneva
  • Masha
  • Family
  • Fratres

  • Birdsong and other song If using Netscape Click on picture for sound
  • Bird song recognition program
  • Macbeth: Extracts by RMA

  • Roderick
  • Tony



      List of papers

      (For texts select below. For abstracts)



      Return to INDEX




      1. Transferof motor patterning
      2. Neural motor programs
      3. Movements of the hand and arm
      4. Elementary speech sounds
      5. Redirection of programs
      6. Equivalent gestures
      7. Gesture structuring
      8. Redirection to articulation
      9. Articulatory gestures
      10. Speech-sound/gesture homoeomorphism
      11. Armmovement/speech-sound equivalence
      12. Word/gesture equivalence
      13. Understanding speech
      14. Understanding gesture
      15. The role of the cerebellum
      16. The chameleon theory

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