The search for universal primate gestural meanings


  • Pritty Patel-Grosz



This paper pursues the idea that human and non-human great apes share a common set of directive (imperative) gestures and their meanings. We investigate gestures that are multifunctional, in that they have different effects in different contexts, focusing on non-human ape gestures that communicate “Stop that” in some contexts, and “Move away” in others. What may superficially appear to be lexical ambiguity can be derived from a single abstract lexical entry, “Not X!”, concluded to be a candidate for a universal building block of meaning, shared by human and non-human great apes, reflections of which may also be found in the pragmatic gestures in humans.




How to Cite

Patel-Grosz, P. (2023). The search for universal primate gestural meanings. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 27, 500–518.