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The motor theory of language

Allott, Robin (1991) The motor theory of language. [Book Chapter]

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Abstract

This paper amplifies and at certain points extends the account of the motor theory given previously. The semantic, syntactic and phonetic structures of language developed on the basis of a complex pre-existing system. More specifically, the structures of language were a transfer from or a calque of the structures of the pre-existing motor system. The motor system had developed in terms of neural motor programs controlling the different categories of movement. The motor programs were formed from a limited set of basic subroutines which in combination could be used to produce an open-ended and essentially infinite range of actions. The development of language made use of these pre-existing subroutines into extended programs. By way of the motor patterning imposed on the anatomical features which went to form the articulatory system, language emerged as an external physical expression of the physiological and neurological basis for movement control. Movement control was already necessarily closely integrated with the parallel system for the processing and control of perception. Language thus acquired the ability to express the range and inter-relations of perceptual content.

Item Type:Book Chapter
Keywords:language origin, mosaic evolution, speech sounds, motor programs, motor control robotic, cross-modal, articulation
Subjects:Linguistics > Historical Linguistics
Biology > Evolution
Neuroscience > Behavioral Neuroscience
ID Code:3269
Deposited By:Allott, R M
Deposited On:14 Nov 2003
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:55

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