Language Linearity

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Human language is linear and sequential in nature (as opposed to global, holistic and simultaneous). It unfolds over time, such that various aspects of the total message necessary for successful interpretation are distributed over the various temporal phases of the communicative event. This is also true of signed languages, although they allow for greater simultaneity of morphological encoding in the visual-manual modality than is possible for speech in the auditory-vocal modality. There may be elements of linearity in the long call systems for pair-bonding primate species (gibbons and certain New World [specifically, titi] monkeys) and in cetacean and passerine (songbird) communication.

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