Searching for the roots of natural language: intentional communication among non-human primates

Main Article Content

Łukasz Kwiatek


Where should we seek the roots of natural language? Common sense suggests that human language should have somehow evolved from primitive vocal communication, which is also, to some extent, present among other animals, especially since primary humans mean of communication is speech. Some biological and psychological evidences, however, both from observation and experiments, indicate that for the missing evolutionary link between human language and animal (apes) communication one should take chimpanzee gestural communication, the only undoubtedly intentional non-human mean of communication.

In this paper, I present the evidences for the aforementioned theory and draw some conclusions regarding the issue of two “sources” of language – biological and cultural evolution.

Article Details

How to Cite
Kwiatek, Łukasz. (2014). Searching for the roots of natural language: intentional communication among non-human primates. Philosophical Problems in Science (Zagadnienia Filozoficzne W Nauce), (55), 43–73. Retrieved from


Arbib M., How the Brain got Language? The Mirror System Hypothesis, Oxford University Press, Oxford–New York 2012.

Bickerton D., Adam’s Tongue. How Humans Made Language, How Language Made Humans, Hill and Wang, New York 2010.

Brożek B., Hohol M., Umysł matematyczny, Coperniucus Center Press, Kraków 2014.

Cheney D.L., Seyfarth R.M., How Monkeys See the World, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1990.

Corballis M., The mirror neurons and the evolution of language, „Brain & Language” 2010, 112, s. 25–35.

di Pellegrino G., Fadiga L., Fogassi L., Gallese V., Rizzolatti G., Understanding motor events: A neurophysiological study, „Experimental Brain Research” 1992, 91, 1, s. 176–180.

Fadiga L., Fogassi L., Pavesi G., Rizzolatti G., Motor facilitation during action observation: A magnetic stimulation study, „Journal of Neurophysiology” 1995, 73, s. 2608–2611.

Gallese V., Lakoff G., The brain’s concepts: The role of the sensory-motor system in conceptual knowledge, „Cognitive Neuropsychology” 2005, 22 (3/4), s. 455–479.

Goodall J., The Chimpanzees of Gombe. Patterns of Behavior, Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1986.

Hillix M., Rumbaugh D., Animal Bodies, Human Minds. Ape, Dolphin and Parrot Language Skills, Kluwer Academic, New York 2004.

Jensvold M., Wilding L., Schulze S., Signs of Communication in Chimpanzees, [w:] Biocommunication of Animals, (red.) G. Witzany, Springer, Dordrecht, Heidelberg, New York–London 2014.

Parr L., Understanding the Expression and Classification of Chimpanzee Facial Expressions, [w:] The Mind of Chimpanzee, (red.) E. Lonsdorf, S. Ross, T. Matsuzawa, University of Chicago Press, Chicago–London 2010, s. 52–59.

Pulvermüller F., Semantic embodiment, disembodiment or misembodiment? In search of meaning in modules and neuron circuits, „Brain & Language” 2013, 127, s. 86–103.

Rogers L., Kaplan G., Songs, Roars and Rituals. Communications in Birds, Mammals and Other Animals, Harvard University Press, Cambridge 2002.

Savage-Rumbaugh S., Shanker S., Taylor T., Apes, Language and the Human Mind, Oxford University Press, Oxford–New York 1998.

Seyfarth R.M., Cheney D.L., Meaning and emotion in animal vocalizations, „Annuals of the New York Academy of Sciences” 2003 (December), t. 1000, s. 32–55.

Slocombe K., Zuberbühler K., Vocal Communications in Chipanzee, [w:] The Mind of Chimpnzee, (red.) E. Lonsdorf, S. Ross, T. Matsuzawa, University of Chicago Press, Chicago–London 2010.

Tomasello M., Call J., Primate Cognition, Oxford University Press, New York–Oxford 1997,

Tomasello M., Kulturowe źródła ludzkiego poznania, tłum. J. Rączaszek, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa 2002.

Tomasello M., Origins of Human Communication, MIT Press, Cambridge–London 2008.