Origins of language

Solo disponible en BuenasTareas
  • Páginas : 6 (1255 palabras )
  • Descarga(s) : 0
  • Publicado : 19 de marzo de 2011
Leer documento completo
Vista previa del texto
Origins of language

Language is what makes us different from other species in our world, and it is a very important tool, indeed. Over the centuries, many speculations have arisen about this matter though the quest has been fruitless so far because of the absence of any scientific evidence in this matter. It is an intriguing question; how did we get from simple vocalization of sounds to acomplex human language? The aim of this essay, since there is a lack of direct physical evidence, is to present and discuss some of the speculations that have arisen as regards the source of human language. These include the divine source, the natural-sound source, the oral-gesture source, and glossogenetics and its advances in the physiological adaptation of the human being’s speech mechanism.The divine source speculation

One of the first speculations about the origins of language was the divine source, which stated that language came from a certain divinity. That led almost every religion in the world to come up with their own theories, with their own gods giving language as a gift to people. As Christians believe, and it is stated in the holy bible, “God created the first humanbeings Adam & Eve and he created them in his own image” (Genesis 1:26-27). Christians said that God spoke to them from the very beginning and they learnt language that way. If human language did emanate from a divine source, we would have no way of reconstructing that original language (Yule, 1996, p.2). There have been also some experiments carried out by people throughout the centuries thatincluded leaving children alone or neglecting them to test how the non-exposure to language affects the development of speech. The various experiments have come to the same answer: there is not enough evidence to prove it, even though they have interpreted them in many ways. Yule (1996) states in his book, The Study of Language, that the Egyptian pharaoh Psammetichus (600 B.C) left two newborninfants with a mute shepherd and goats for two years. Just by hearing those animal sounds and being isolated, the pharaoh stated that they learnt actual language; according to him they could utter the word bekos, which, in Phrygian language, meant ‘bread’. For the pharaoh at that time the experiment was a success, but it presents no empirical evidence to prove that language was created by this mean.The natural-sound source

A different speculation about the origins of language is the one referring to language created by hearing or echoing the sounds of the environment. Early men and women may have heard sounds of things surrounding them, for instance ‘buzz’ when the heard a bird so they gave that connotation to every flying object. The English inventory of words has more of these soundslike ‘splash’ ‘boom’ ‘pow’ etc. This theory has been called the “bow-pow theory.” According to a Professor of Philology at Oxford University, Friedrich Max Müller: “It is supposed, then, that man, being as yet mute, heard the voices of birds and dogs and cows, the thunder of the clouds, the roaring of the sea, the rustling of the forest, the murmurs of the brook, and the whisper of the breeze. Hetried to imitate these sounds, and finding his mimicking cries useful as signs of the objects from which they proceeded, he followed up the idea and elaborated language.” This process has also been called onomatopoeia, which means that we echo the natural sounds surrounding us, but again, there is not enough evidence to state that language was created this way. Another important theory aboutnatural sound sources states that human language was created because of natural or spontaneous cries of joy, anger, happiness and more, but these were just sounds and were not enough to confirm the hypothesis; because while human beings can produce sounds of anger or when they are cooperating and working with each other, animals, especially apes, can do the same and they have not developed a...
tracking img