"The detachment from modality-specific inputs may represent a substantial change in neural organization, one that affects not only imitation but also communication; only humans can lose one modality (e.g.
Sign languages of the deaf are independently invented and have all the major properties of spoken language except for the modality of transmission.
Nothing, however, suggests that the lips evolved for those reasons.
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The origin of speech in Homo sapien sapiens is a widely debated and controversial topic. It allows the speaker to encode the informational content of a message in a single channel, while switching between channels as necessary.
The problems relate to humans' unprecedented use of the tongue, lips and vocal organs as instruments of communication. Modern city-dwellers switch effortlessly between the spoken word and writing in its various forms — handwriting, typing, e-mail and so forth.
Monkeys and apes rely on a repertoire of species-specific "gesture-calls" — emotionally expressive vocalisations inseparable from the visual displays which accompany them.
Modality independence should not be confused with the ordinary phenomenon of multimodality.
The word "language" derives from the Latin lingua, "tongue".
Phoneticians agree that the tongue is the most important speech articulator, followed by the lips.As we move our jaws up and down, the tongue can vary the cross-sectional area of each tube independently by about 10:1, altering formant frequencies accordingly.That the tubes are joined at a right angle permits pronunciation of the vowels [i], [u] and [a], which nonhuman primates cannot do.Either it is performing gymnastics with its tongue or it is vocalising; it cannot perform both activities simultaneously.Since this applies to mammals in general, Homo sapiens is exceptional in harnessing mechanisms designed for respiration and ingestion to the radically different requirements of articulate speech.Other animals vocalise, but do not use the tongue to modulate sounds. Whichever modality is chosen, it can reliably transmit the full message content without external assistance of any kind.