The Origin of Language

March 3, 2012

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Introduction

The origin of language in the human species is a widely discussed topic. Despite this, there is no consensus on ultimate origin or age. Empirical evidence is limited, and many scholars continue to regard the whole topic as unsuitable for serious study. In 1866, the Linguistic Society of Paris went so far as to ban debates on the subject. That prohibition remained influential across much of the western world until late in the twentieth century. Today, there are numerous hypotheses about how, why, when and where language might first have emerged. It might seem that there is hardly more agreement today than there was a hundred years ago, when Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection provoked a rash of armchair speculations on the topic. Since the early 1990s, however, a growing number of professional linguists, archaeologists, psychologists, anthropologists and others have attempted to address with new methods what they are beginning to consider ‘the hardest problem in science’.     Source >>

 

The Origin of Language and Communication

By age four, most humans have developed an ability to communicate through oral language.  By age six or seven, most humans can comprehend, as well as express, written thoughts.  These unique abilities of communicating through a native language clearly separate humans from all animals. 

The obvious question then arises, where did we obtain this distinctive trait? 

Organic evolution has proven unable to elucidate the origin of language and communication.  Knowing how beneficial this ability is to humans, one would wonder why this skill has not evolved in other species.  Materialistic science is insufficient at explaining not only how speech came about, but also why we have so many different languages. 

Linguistic research, combined with neurological studies, has determined that human speech is highly dependent on a neuronal network located in specific sites within the brain.  This intricate arrangement of neurons, and the anatomical components necessary for speech, cannot be reduced in such a way that one could produce a “transitional” form of communication.  The following paper examines the true origin of speech and language, and the anatomical and physiological requirements.  The evidence conclusively implies that humans were created with the unique ability to employ speech for communication.  

The fact of the matter is that language is quintessentially a human trait.

All attempts to shed light on the evolution of human language have failed—due to the lack of knowledge regarding the origin of any language, and due to the lack of an animal that possesses any ‘transitional’ form of communication.  This leaves evolutionists with a huge gulf to bridge between humans with their innate communication abilities, and the grunts, barks, or chatterings of animals.     Source >> 

The Origin of Language

by James E. Strickling  [ First Published August 1995 ]

Man’s intellectual capability is different from anything else we know of in the universe. It puts a great chasm between us and the rest of the animal kingdom. One scholar has said that it is as if life evolved to a certain point and then in ourselves turned at a right angle and exploded in a different direction. And human speech appears to be the best example of that.

Most modern theories of the origin of language are variations around a common theme: the gradual transformation of sounds into words. But at what point does nonlanguage ease across the threshold to become language? In the orthodox scheme, there is no clearly defined or definable threshold for humanness. So what about language? Its origin will never be determined within a framework of Darwinist dogma.

I have argued in my book, MAN AND HIS PLANET – An Unauthorized History, that Homo sapiens was born from another species, probably Homo erectus, and that this birth was not a gradual, evolutionary process but was a sudden one. At some point in the history of the genus Homo, a given generation of the elder species produced the first generation of the younger. A nonconscious (no self-awareness) being gave rise to a new creature with a conscious mind (that is, with latent consciousness).

That creature’s mind was every bit as developed and capable as the mind of man today. The difference in the beginning was the absence of culture to provide material for “programming” the newly created human. But the mind was there—a mind that would lead to the very first aspect of human culture: language.

When a human child learns the language of its parents, it is not somehow provided with the explicit definitions of words. Rather, through various means of input and feedback, it comes to associate sounds with objects, actions, and concepts. The sounds of speech are completely arbitrary insofar as their meaning is concerned. To be learned as a language, the only requirement is consistency. The sounds need not be recognized by their user as words, but as symbolic representations. They would come to be interpreted and conceptualized as such by a newly-born, learning, intelligent hearer possessing latent consciousness.

Given the sudden arrival of Homo sapiens populations from their (presumed) Homo erectus parents, we have a modern example to enlighten us on the experience of Homo sapiens’ first generation.

According to Dr. Derek Bickerton:

. . . when slaves were taken away from different areas of Africa, they spoke different languages.
. . . They were bought on the slave market by owners of different plantations, who also spoke different languages [from those of the slaves]. People can’t stop communicating with each other, and in that process, you develop a lot of languages.

Many slaves . . . fled to form their own communities. It was in these communities that they evolved pidgin speech, an improvised language that had a sparse vocabulary and no real grammar. Pidgin made communication possible among people who had no common tongue. Thus, their children also lacked a true language. By spontaneously bringing grammar to their parents’ pidgin . . . the children created a completely new language in one generation. This language is a Creole.

The adults who make pidgin are not able to provide it with any structure. They’re past the critical age at which syntax develops. The children, however, are not. Syntax develops in them just as naturally as any other . . . part of their bodies. It’s natural, it’s automatic, it’s instinctive, and you can’t stop them from doing it. I think the only explanation you can have for the way syntax works is that somehow, this is built into the hard wiring of the neural circuits of the brain. . . .

Pidgin is the first stage in [an effort] to communicate with each other. Creoles are an order of magnitude different. They are full languages, rich in syntax even if limited in vocabulary.

And such must have been the case with the first languages—spoken by the first generation of Homo sapiens.

Thus, the first speech did not arise from random sounds that gradually developed meaning over centuries or millennia of time to be finally recognized as words. Rather, consistent, non-language sounds used by the parent species were unconsciously transformed into abstract representations (words) by an infantile conscious mind. The young, first-generation Homo sapiens heard the same sounds as his Homo whatever parents, but for him the basis of meaning was of a totally different nature. The physiology and character of the enunciation would likewise have been different. An initially limited vocabulary rapidly grew with peer contact and linguistic innovations.

For a more comprehensive and detailed analysis (including references), see MAN AND HIS PLANET – An Unauthorized History by James E. Strickling,  Eloquent Books, ISBN: 978-1-60693-099-1. Go to www.jimstrickling.com

Subject Related

  • The Tower of Babel and The Confusion of Tongues
  • The Beast Within – Deric Bownds  This lecture/web essay tries to think about those components of our human actions, feelings, and mental lives that might be similar to those of other animals. Because most of us live mainly in our verbal linguistic minds it is quite easy for us to lose touch with the elemental and basic ways that our human selves are built on an animal substrate.

 

PS MINDSTUFF: A Guide for the Curious User

© M. Deric Bownds

[ Note: below there are two fragments from the article by Deric Bownds ]

SOCIAL BRAIN

Perhaps the most central element in our sense of well being, apart from basic physical health and robustness, is our perceived role in the social world, our standing in the minds of other humans. Our survival can literally depend on this. Isolation or expulsion from a social group can result in debilitation, stress, and even death. How is it that we feel empathy, infer what is going on in the minds of others, and construct our affiliative alliances?

The evolutionary origin of these abilities may reside in “mirror neurons” observed in the motor and other brain areas of humans, monkeys, and some other mammals that become active not only when we perform a movement but also when we observe someone else performing the movement. Further, our brain activities also monitor the intention of others. They are slightly different, for example, if a person is lifting a cup to drink versus lifting the cup to clean the table. Seeing a persons leg stroked with a brush activates the same sensory areas of our brain that would respond to the same stimulus. Observing an emotional experience in a picture or movie, such as disgust or fear, can activate the areas that would react if the experience were actually happening to us. Mirroring systems such as these could be central to learning by imitation, as in language acquisition in infants or learning to play a musical instrument like the guitar. The processes of empathy and imitation that mirror neurons appear to support are central to the development of our social brain, and appear to be diminished in autistic children. These children do not learn the myriad social cues that are signaled by reciprocal facial gestures and body language. Their sense of self, or point of view, seems to regard other humans as impersonal objects that must be analyzed.

Our empathetic or mirroring brain regions are part of a much larger neuroendocrine axis that regulates human bonding and affiliation. The hormones oxytocin and vasopressin are involved in maternal behavior and male parental behavior. Recent work has shown that intranasal application of oxytocin causes an increase in trust among humans, increasing the benefit from social interactions. The serotonin neurotransmitter system and opiate receptors modulate feelings of attachment, love, and loss. Between mothers and infants an elaborate symphony of interactions including tactile stimulation, olfactory cues, body warmth, and periodicity of feeding generate an emotional or limbic resonance that stimulates homeostatic and immune system robustness. Our nervous system development, as well as our ongoing brain function, requires synchronization with those we are attached to. An important vehicle for this synchronization is the elaborate interactive body language we engage with other humans as subtle facial gestures and body movements are reciprocally noted. Our human physiology is in part an open-loop arrangement in which two individuals can reciprocally alter hormone levels, cardiovascular function, sleep rhythms, and immune function (see Lewis et al., 2000).

Autonomic and emotional empathy has the virtue of bonding each of us to other humans. However, if it is pain rather than happiness or affection that is being shared and there is little prospect of relief, then empathy has the downside of making us feel more helpless. Over time this can trigger the debilitative stress and autonomic arousal of the helplessness syndrome described by Seligman (see his 1991 book on learned helplessness and learned optimism). A subtle balance is needed between the sense of personal autonomy and power that supports our individual robustness and the empathy and caring which supports community!

[...]

FAITH AND RELIGION

As our social brains develop and are patterned by interactions with others we acquire a set of shared beliefs (assumptions, models) about ourselves, other humans, and the world. At one end of their range are beliefs supported by countless universal observations made by all humans (objects fall if released from our hands.) At the other end are beliefs unique to specific human cultures (such as those regarding God, or gods) that feel correct to their adherents but have no rational basis. It is possible that the feeling of ‘correctness’ in all of these beliefs are arrived at by the same reward-related circuitry in our brains that regulates our judgment of the pleasantness of tastes, odors and other physical stimuli. Belief, or a feeling of rightness or correctness, may be an all-purpose emotion arising in a variety of contexts, in some cases without objective support. We humans have become ascendant because of our relentless drive to understand and control the world, and such understanding probably activates the same reward circuitry in our brains. Given fertile imaginations and faced with forces beyond our understanding or control it is not surprising that we would invent anthropomorphic gods to explain who is running the show.

The issue is whether there is evidence that a particular religious belief actually represents the world. Feelings of conviction are not enough to judge the way the world is, only chains of evidence and argument can do this. Perhaps understanding ethics and spirituality – at the core of what is good about being human – at the level of our brain processes could permit us to remove the shackles imposed by millennia by religious traditions. Perhaps it would permit us to try to forge new contexts for human meaning, cooperation, fulfillment… and survival. There is evidence all around us that religious beliefs can generate xenophobia and genocide. Appreciating evolutionary and developmental forces that might incline us to these behaviors, as well as to cooperation and affiliative bonding, might assist us to inhibit those that threaten our continued viability on this planet. (see Harris, 2004, for a pungent discussion of these topics.)

© M. Deric Bownds

Source: http://dericbownds.net/MindStuff.html

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

ben garfield March 8, 2014 at 4:48 am

Verbal communication is not only used by humans…. I’ve raised animals my whole life… Goats talk among themselves all the time… It isn’t just senseless jabber…. They make all different kinds of sounds…. Not just one blurred out noise…. They snort when there’s danger…. They cry when they’re in pain… I guess you got to be a goat to fully understand their language…. I think the more sophisticated a language is the less words you have to use… Not the opposite… It’s the sound variation in their speech how they communicate….

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j.apoyan June 19, 2013 at 12:46 am

Promise to read the article first before making any more comments because is that to good to be true really lets have a watch at the way species are treated within humanity for if they where not our own there is always rehab clinics can that can provide a sense of welfare for cheap as chips its all in the print.

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Doug Yurchey March 20, 2012 at 11:56 am

After researching the ancients and ancient mysteries for 40 years…I’ve come to important conclusions: Since Cro-Magnons were not what we have been trained to believe; instead, they were BRAINAICS with LARGER brain cavities than modern people – and the truth is…WE have degenerated from the ‘gods’ we were when we were building pyramid power-stations with anti-gravity long ago. We were originally psychic! Later…after so much fell apart and TIME ruined everything…we fell to the dark ages and mentally DOWN to where we, humans, were not psychic anymore and had to speak and write. The first writing was amazing, deep reliefs cut into stone by lasers (Egypt). The entire age of hieroglyphs was and is far beyond our heads. Rosetta Stone is a misconception. Hieroglyphs are ‘ideo-grams’ – volumes of information are symbolized instead of the primitive way we communicate today. Right now I am building a concept by placing little bricks called LETTERS together to form an idea or word. Our far superior ancestors (after worlds blew up) communicated so much more with the least amount of effort. Their sciences, math, calenders, building skills; EVERYTHING was superior to the way we do things today. And, so was the original written language in its FIRST form. We could learn incredible truths if we only allowed for the possibility of super-sciences in the distant past.

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Starheater January 6, 2013 at 2:16 am

Mister Yurchey
Did you ever learn from nature, that man originate from man, the maple from the maple, the bees from the bee. I could you tell such a false thorie about the origin of man, me without the Bible, just by looking at the, I know were the man come from, are you blind mister Yurchey? If you are not shure, dont even take about it, and if you take about it, keep in mind that the Universe and all that it contain are made by God, and not by Darwin or the subtil Hazard. If you have a spek of logic, show me your intelligence. Even if you were a no-believer in God, the logic will tend to give you the truth, and passe a stage, you will tend to believe in God.
Right now, your reasonning sound like the reasonning of a monkey, are you a monkey or a man?
It is stated in Bible that God have demand to Adam to name all the animal, what this tell you? The man from the beginning tough how to talk, and i’m sure that the language was Arameen, or if you prefer Hebrew. Most of all the expert in that field say that the origin of all the language on Earth comme from Hebrew. All that is was writing by beguinning from Seth until today, was write in ebrew, and the gardian of that language are the Jews. So if you want to argue, I have many proofs that could be cited to you, (excuse my english) God Bless

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