Theories of the development of human communication

Jonathan Delafield-Butt, Colwyn Trevarthen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

26 Citations (Scopus)
1053 Downloads (Pure)


This article considers evidence for innate motives for sharing rituals and symbols from animal semiotics, developmental neurobiology, physiology of prospective motor control, affective neuroscience and infant communication. Mastery of speech and language depends on polyrhythmic movements in narrative activities of many forms. Infants display intentional activity with feeling and sensitivity for the contingent reactions of other persons. Talk shares many of its generative powers with music and the other ‘imitative arts’. Its special adaptations concern the capacity to produce and learn an endless range of sounds to label discrete learned understandings, topics and projects of intended movement.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheories and models of communication
EditorsPaul Cobley, Peter J Schulz
Place of PublicationBerlin
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

Publication series

NameHandbooks of Communication Science
PublisherDe Gruyter


  • neurobiology
  • motor control
  • animal semiotics
  • neuroscience
  • infant communication


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