How Can Agreement Be Disagreement? A Reply to Christensen I have no difficulty with much of what Christensen (1992) said except that his conclusion disagrees with our premise that the vocal signal system and linguistic symbol system evolved separately. How does this premise differ significantly from his statement “that both communication skills developed in parallel since both abilities ... Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor  |   October 01, 1992
How Can Agreement Be Disagreement? A Reply to Christensen
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • William H. Perkins
    University of Southern California Los Angeles
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Letters to the Editor
Letter to the Editor   |   October 01, 1992
How Can Agreement Be Disagreement? A Reply to Christensen
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1992, Vol. 35, 1033. doi:10.1044/jshr.3505.1033a
History: Received February 19, 1992 , Accepted April 2, 1992
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1992, Vol. 35, 1033. doi:10.1044/jshr.3505.1033a
History: Received February 19, 1992; Accepted April 2, 1992
I have no difficulty with much of what Christensen (1992) said except that his conclusion disagrees with our premise that the vocal signal system and linguistic symbol system evolved separately. How does this premise differ significantly from his statement “that both communication skills developed in parallel since both abilities seem to be functionally and inextricably linked?” I agree that despite separate origins, they are “inextricably linked” in spoken communication.
We made the assumption, with which Christensen possibly disagrees, that a vocal signal system existed before the evolution of language. The exact nature and function of that signal system at the time mankind and ape went their separate evolutionary ways is immaterial. That this system evolved differently in humans than in apes seems probable, but that difference would be irrelevant. The only premise we took as solid ground for our theory was that people have inherited a vocal signal system that operates in every utterance we make, whether verbal or nonverbal. It does not even matter which, the signal or the symbol system, came first, although assigning priority to language would contradict all of the evidence I know of.
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