Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The balance between cooperation and competition: cooperative communication between humans

In the chapter You have gestures of her book The First Word, Christine Kenneally's first virtual world —language—is turning visual. She writes about Mike Tomasello and his associates of the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, who did observe and compile a huge collection of ape gestures; including monkey, gibbon, gorilla, chimpanzee, bonobo, and orangutan gestures, many of them studied at the Leipzig city zoo.

What about human gestures? To study human gestures, you don't need to visit a zoo. Walk through Leipzig or any other city in the world and watch humans. The interesting aspect of human and animal gesture is that our gestures may have evolved intricately together with early language and communication capabilities. Humans—during their years as children—learn to interact and get each others attention by communicating in various ways such as pointing, imitating and making diverse sounds. Besides offering food and presents, we like to offer information and experiences. We compete and cooperate in a reciprocate fashion:    
Reciprocation is fundamental to the interaction of our species. Offering is not instinctive for humans, but is taught by parents to children, who learn it very easily.
Christine Kenneally, 2007.

Reference and more to explore
Christine Kenneally: The First Word. Viking Penguin, New York, 2007; pages123 and 128.

1 comment: