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Cyclic Movement Primitives Underlying Two-Handed Alternating Signs In Signed Languages

Oksana Tkachman, Gracellia Purnomo, Bryan Gick


In speech, biomechanical constraints shape phonetics-phonology. For example, English /r/ variants are selected based on minimizing biomechanical effort [1] and a single motor action in the tongue may govern multiple speech events to improve movement efficiency [2]. We propose that signed languages are similarly constrained by biomechanics. Specifically, the present paper considers the hypothesis that otherwise unexplained universal aspects of sign languages can be understood as resulting from a preference for repeated alternating arm movements triggered by vestigial locomotor CPGs developed in human ancestors for quadrupedal locomotion. 


sign language; movement primitives; two-handed balanced signs; central pattern generators

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