Look who's talking

Listen: Scientists have a new theory for the origin of language

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A leading theory about the origins of language suggests early humans first used iconic gestures to convey meaning without the need for a mutual language.

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In the study, 98.6 percent of participants recognized the meaning of that sound: sleep. Actions were identified correctly 70.9 percent of the time, the highest of any word type.

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Participants were only slightly less likely (86.6 percent) to understand that this means tiger. Nouns relating to animals were accurately guessed about 75.6 percent of the time.

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The sound for cut was identified correctly 74.1 percent of the time.

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Just 63.4 percent of people understood that sound as meaning good. Sounds for properties of things were hard to guess, with a 58.5 percent accuracy.

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Read more science stories here.

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