In this chapter, we examine whether ideas from Professor MacNeilage’s

Frame/Content theory of the evolution of speech production (MacNeilage, 1998)

apply to linguistic syllables in adult speech. The relevant ideas are that jaw

movement is independent of segmental articulation, and that the jaw is recruited

to help solve the serial order problem for speech. Specifically, MacNeilage

argues that in ontogeny and phylogeny, speech-like behavior-the production

of consonant-vowel strings-first emerges when phonation is married to the

cyclic open-close movement of the jaw. The result of this marriage is the proto-

syllable: a structured segment grouping, which becomes elaborated with time as

motor control of the tongue, lips, and velum becomes more sophisticated.