What Have Bees, Macaque Monkeys and Humans Got in Common? Embodied Cognition, Gesture and Second Language Learning

  • Jeannette Littlemore


For many years, natural historians have been aware of the strange, highly complex ‘waggle dances’ that bees perform for one another in the hive. It is only very recently that researchers have discovered that the function of these ‘dances’ is in fact to communicate to the other bees the exact location of sources of pollen and nectar. Debbie Hadley, a natural historian who specialises in the study of insects, describes these dances as follows:

The honey bee first walks straight ahead, vigorously shaking its abdomen and producing a buzzing sound with the beat of its wings. The distance and speed of this movement communicates the distance of the foraging site to the others. Communicating direction becomes more complex, as the dancing bee aligns her body in the direction of the food, relative to the sun. The entire dance pattern is a figure-eight, with the bee repeating the straight portion of the movement each time it circles to the center again.


Language Learning Target Language Epistemic Modality Iconic Gesture Cognitive Linguistic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Jeannette Littlemore 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeannette Littlemore
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BirminghamUK

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