Language, Gestural

  • Doreen Kimura
Part of the Readings from the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience book series (REN)


Nonvocal communication systems employing primarily the manual and brachial and, to some extent, facial musculature may coexist with a vocal language, or may develop in its absence. In the former case they are usually adjunct and fairly elementary systems, such as are employed by some hunting groups when they wish to communicate in silence, or by North American Indians in the past to communicate across tribes. The more elaborate development of manual systems of communication is found almost exclusively among the deaf, in whom it has flourished in practically every culture, despite past suppression by the hearing educators of the deaf. The readiness with which idiosyncratic manual communication systems develop when even a small number of deaf persons reside near each other indicates that a manual system is a very natural and readily available means of communication to human beings.

Further reading

  1. Gardner RA, Gardner BT (1978): Comparative psychology and language acquisition. In: Psychology, the State of the Art, Salzinger K, Denmark FL, eds. Ann NY Acad Sci 309.Google Scholar
  2. Kimura D (1981): Neural mechanisms in manual signing. Sign Lang Studies 33:291–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Poizner H, Bellugi U, Iragui V (1984): Apraxia and aphasia for a visual-gestural language. Am J Physiol 15:R868–R883.Google Scholar
  4. Stokoe WC, Casterline DC, Cronebcrg GG (1976): A Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principles, new ed. Silver Spring, Md: Linstok PressGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Doreen Kimura

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