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Evolution of Communicative Flexibility – Complexity, Creativity, and Adaptability in Human and Animal Communication - MIT Press Scholarship Online
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Evolution of Communicative Flexibility: Complexity, Creativity, and Adaptability in Human and Animal Communication

D. Kimbrough Oller and Ulrike Griebel


The evolutionary roots of human communication are difficult to trace, but recent comparative research suggests that the first key step in that evolutionary history may have been the establishment of basic communicative flexibility—the ability to vocalize freely combined with the capability to coordinate vocalization with communicative intent. The contributors to this book investigate how some species (particularly ancient hominids) broke free of the constraints of “fixed signals,” actions that were evolved to communicate but lack the flexibility of language—a newborn infant’s cry, for example, ... More

Keywords: human communication, communicative flexibility, vocalization, communicative intent, ancient hominids, fixed signals, language origins, birds, marine mammals, evolutionary history

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2008 Print ISBN-13: 9780262151214
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262151214.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

D. Kimbrough Oller, editor

Ulrike Griebel, editor

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2 Evolutionary Forces Favoring Communicative Flexibility

Ulrike Griebel, and D. Kimbrough Oller

5 Constraints in Primate Vocal Production

Kurt Hammerschmidt, and Julia Fischer

6 Contextual Sensitivity and Bird Song: A Basis for Social Life

Martine Hausberger, Laurence Henry, Benoît Testé, and Stéphanie Barbu

13 Detection and Estimation of Complexity and Contextual Flexibility in Nonhuman Animal Communication

Brenda McCowan, Laurance Doyle, Allison B. Kaufman, Sean Hanser, and Curt Burgess

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