Vauclair, J. (2004). Lateralization of communicative signals in nonhuman primates and the hypothesis of the gestural origin of language. Interaction Studies, 5(3), 363-384.
This article argues for the gestural origins of speech and language based on the available evidence gathered in humans and nonhuman primates and especially from ape studies. The strong link between motor functions (hand use and manual gestures) and speech in humans is reviewed. The presence of asymmetrical cerebral organization in nonhuman primates along with functional asymmetries in the perception and production of vocalizations and in intentional referential gestural communication is then emphasized. The nature of primate communicatory systems is presented, and the similarities and differences between these systems and human speech are discussed. It is argued that recent findings concerning neuroanatomical asymmetries in the chimpanzee brain and the existence of both mirror neurons and lateralized use of hands and vocalizations in communication necessitate a reconsideration of the phylogenic emergence of the cerebral and behavioral prerequisites for human speech.
Keywords: evolution, communication, primates, gesture, language, vocalization, mirror neurons
[Citing Place (2000c)]  
Citing Place (2000c) in context (citations start with an asterisk *):
Section: Other kinds of evidence in nonhuman primates
Subsection. Some functional differences between animal communication and human language
* Place (2000) has argued that there was in humans an ontogenetic primacy of the use of the system of “mands” in the sense of Skinner (1957) compared to the system of “tacts.” Mands can be broadly defined as commands, requests or questions that the speaker addresses to a listener. A mand serves to specify an action to be performed by the listener, the realization of which operates primarily for the benefit of the speaker. By contrast, tacts constitute more complex forms of behaviors in the sense that “they are reinforced, not, as in the case of the mand, by the behavior they call for from the listener, but by a variety of specialized reinforcers, responses such as gratitude for information supplied, agreement with opinions given, sympathy for troubles told, surprise at and interest in news reported, or laughter at jokes” (Place, 2000, II.iii). It follows from this distinction that “in the evolution of language it [the tacts] must have developed later [than the mands], as it does in the child. Moreover, since interrogative mands presuppose the availability of the tacts they solicit from the listener, it follows that the first sentences must all have been imperatives” (Place, 2000, II.iii).
The parallel between mands and tacts with imperatives and declaratives and their respective functions is striking. It is thus tempting to speculate that the mands and protoimperative actions are the dominant actions both in the nonhuman primates and in the developing human infant and child. It is also likely that these systems function best by means of mimed movements and by pointing gestures. ...