A Biolinguistic Approach to the Vocalizations of H. Neanderthalensis and the Genus Homo

Lluís Barceló-Coblijn

Abstract


This paper revisits the old question about the possibilities and aptitudes H. neanderthalensis had for vocalization. New evidence will be discussed that moves the discussion beyond traditional interest in the presence and inter-pretation of the fossil record and its comparison with the closest species to H. sapiens, like chimpanzees and gorillas. An interdisciplinary perspective on the analysis coupled with information gathered from neuropsychology, genetics, and comparative psychology will prove useful for obtaining a new vision in biolinguistics, so that neurocognitive activity becomes important thanks, above all, to the comparison with other species. Finally, it will be argued that it is still plausible to accept the hypothesis on the formation of a vocal capacity prior to the cognitive faculty of language, and independent of it, so that Neandertals were probably able of vocalizing voluntarily, with communicative intentions and in a sophisticated way.

Keywords


air sacs; Homo (H. neanderthalensis); hyoid bone; vocal tract; von Economo neurons

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