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ADDRESS OF COL. GARRICK MALLERY, U. S. ARMY

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Science  01 Oct 1881:
Vol. os-2, Issue 67, pp. 470-471
DOI: 10.1126/science.os-2.67.470

Abstract

It may be conceded that after man had all his present faculties, he did not choose between the adoption of voice and gesture, and never with those faculties, was in a state where the one was used, to the absolute exclusion of the other. The epoch, however, to which our speculations relate is that in which he had not reached the present symmetric development of his intellect and of his bodily organs, and the inquiry is: Which mode of communication was earliest adopted to his single wants and informed intelligence? With the voice he could imitate distinictively but few sounds of nature, while with gesture he could exhibit actions, motions, positions, forms, dimensions, directions and distances, with their derivations and analogues. It would seem from this unequal division of capacity that oral speech remained rudimentary long after gesture had become an efficient mode of communication. With due allowance for all purely imitative sounds, and for the spontaneous action of vocal organs under excitement, it appears that the connection between ideas and words is only to be explained by a compact between speaker and hearer which supposes the existence of a prior mode of communication. This was probably by gesture. At least we may accept it as a clew leading out of the labyrinth of philological confusion, and regulating the immemorial quest of man's primitive speech.