I know animals often imitate specific behaviour (like when they show their teeth to evoke "danger!" in the reciever) as a form of communication. Although, for a fully-fledged language where we can express anything we can think of to develop, we need more complicated signals.

And for that, we need both the reciever and the signaler to understand the same signalling system. And since for a language as complex, the animals need to share a lot of similar "associations" with similar signals - it's good when the communicating animals orientate a similar environment - such as siblings.

Is this a possible explanation of the evolution of language?

I know the signalling theory is a biological branch on its own, however I seem not to be able to come up with an alternative explanation. Also, I know that this kind of group selection is sometimes used to explain the evolution of altruism. So is this how the evolution of communication happens?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Perhaps better asked on Linguistics.SE? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse If my hypothesis is true, it applies on all kinds of complex communication systems. $\endgroup$
    – Probably
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse Also I was mindblown when I realized that this had to be minimally the way altruism has evolved. $\endgroup$
    – Probably
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know about this. I manage to communicate fairly well with my dogs and horses, and they with me. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf They've learned that if they'll respond in certain wain on certain stimuli, they'll got some reward. The problem occurs when we notice that the relationships among animals don't often work that way. Similar ideas are discussed in the book The evolution of language $\endgroup$
    – Probably
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 19:23


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