%A Robin Allott %T IMITATION IN LANGUAGE AND SPEECH Roles and functional base %X Language is a skilled activity. In the development and acquisition of the skill, imitation may play different roles. Imitation in language may be related to and throw light on the role and functioning of imitation in other areas including imitation in robotics. What part does imitation play in the child?s acquisition of its mother language? What role did imitation play in the evolutionary origin and diversification of language? How much has imitation to do with the sources of the words we use and the ways those words are put together? These questions can be considered at different levels, the surface forms of language and speech, the underlying systematicies of language and speech, the problem of speech at the articulatory level and beyond or beneath that the problem of the functioning of imitation at the neural level. Imitation of any kind involves a relation between motor and perceptual functioning, between the motor system of the brain and the visual and other sensory systems. Language and speech also require interaction and coordination between motor activity and perceptual activity. The role and functioning of imitation in language and speech are subjects of study in many different disciplines, not only linguistics proper but also child development, neurology, evolutionary theory, social psychology. A central idea in this paper is a new emphasis on the bodily basis of language in relation to imitated speech and gesture, and more specifically on cerebral motor organisation as providing a possible new approach to the symbol-grounding problem. %K imitation, evolution of language, motor theory, neuroscience, robotics, mirror neurons,child acquisition of language, linguistics %P 105-112 %V '03 %D 2003 %I AISB %L cogprints3111