Technical CommentsEVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

Comment on “Monkey vocal tracts are speech-ready”

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Science Advances  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 7, e1700442
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700442

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Abstract

Monkey vocal tracts are capable of producing monkey speech, not the full range of articulate human speech. The evolution of human speech entailed both anatomy and brains. Fitch, de Boer, Mathur, and Ghazanfar in Science Advances claim that “monkey vocal tracts are speech-ready,” and conclude that “…the evolution of human speech capabilities required neural change rather than modifications of vocal anatomy.” Neither premise is consistent either with the data presented and the conclusions reached by de Boer and Fitch themselves in their own published papers on the role of anatomy in the evolution of human speech or with the body of independent studies published since the 1950s.

Keywords
  • Acoustic theory of speech production
  • species-specific human vocal tract
  • formant frequencies
  • quantal vowels
  • vocal tract normalization

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