Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cogitation on the English Language.

Hi Guys:

For some reason I've been thinking a lot about the English Language lately. I think if one wants to ponder a mystery, one could do a lot worse than trying to figure out how the English Language came to be, or for that matter language in general.

Who was the first Hominid to use a word, with a meaning, rather than just a gutteral sound? I'm not sure, but I don't think I've ever heard a good postulation on the origin of spoken language, I say spoken, as I'm pretty sure that the first man creature, for want of a better term , did not set himself down and scratch out a word, as we understand words to be, in the dirt.

I'm also fairly certain that language did not spontaneously erupt of their own accord, say, as a caveman, we'll call him Org for the moment walked out of his cave one fine morning, yawned, scratched himself (I think Men have always done so), looked about and said to no one in particular, "I say, its a beautiful morning", further, I think its also doubtful that his neighbor, christian name Moog, just happened to emerge from his cave a moment later and replied to Org " It is that, me boy, a fine day indeed".No, I'm pretty sure it didn't happen that way.

Perhaps these two cavemen just started using different sounds to name different things. Maybe Org pointed at a rock and said "Rock", whereupon Moog replied "Say what"? then Org again pointed to the rock again and repeated "Rock" causing Moog to think deeply (while scratching), and then came perhaps the first look of enlightenment in Human History as Moog GOT IT! he excitedly pointed at the rock and said, quite clearly," Ock". Org again pointed at the rock and said "Rock" causing Moog to jab his finger in an impatient manner at the stone in question, and again say "Ock!". Then Moog picked up the rock and smacked Org in the skull, and said, "Ock" then added perhaps the second word ever to be spoken, added "Dammit".

Since we are imagining (or at least I am), we can well imagine, when Org finally came to, with a splitting headache, He picked up a rock of his own, and bashed Moog in the Brainpan. (as a new footnote to history, this was probably the first example of an Arms race) Org probably figured out that what he needed was a bigger Rock, perhaps a one kiloton stone, found one and went looking for Moog, who as it happened was casting about for a bigger rock for himself. Continuing on this theme perhaps our two cavemen eyed each other warily, sat down on large Rocks and Ocks, respectively, and with a sudden bust of insight, realized that they had just invented a language, stood up, scratched, and went to their caves in search of their Clubs (Or, in Moog's case) Lubs.

No, I'm pretty sure that Human Language did not originate via the above method, even if other human characteristics did show promise of evolving (fighting, cursing and scratching). in doing a small amount of research on the subject, I discovered what I too often discover when researching a subject, and that is .....No one is sure.

Paleontologists have discovered, by discovery and by exterpolation, that approximately 3.5 million years ago Hominids developed a more "L" shaped Larnyx, which is necessary for the formation of both vowel and glottal sounds. This occurred about the same time that these same hominids became bipedal, walking on 2 legs vs all fours, and were thus named "Homo Erectus" (which has nothing to do with Viagra)
Then, a few years ago, a Neanderthal Fossil was discovered containing a Hyoid bone, which together with earlier theories suggested that Neanderthals had at least the probability for a capacity for vocalizing sounds similiar to modern Hominids,.
Since Neanderthals died out about 25,000 years ago it is then possible, that they had some last words, and interesting to speculate what those words might have been. Judging from what their successors in the race we call our own,have spoken, these words might have been "D`OH", "LOOK OUT", "HEY WATCH THIS", "LOOK OUT, HE'S GOT A RO..." or in case of the Male of this species,

So I guess, to sum up, No one really knows for sure when Humans developed a spoken speech. There has been speculation that a sign language existed prior to a spoken language, but again, no one is sure, and as far as I can discover, there's no way of being sure. But.......I still think its a tasty food for thought, sort of like the old poser about the Chicken or the Egg.

Your Thoughts and Discoveries will be welcomed, even if they just state that I have too much time on my hands.

Stay Well

The Old Professor

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nasty Politics (as usual)

Good Morning Folks.

I have been following, with interest, the ongoing Senatorial campaign in Massachusetts. What strikes me the most about this campaign is the outright enmity expressed by the candidates . I realize that is part and parcel of almost all campaigns, and I think that this is emblematic of most political campaigns,and speaks poorly about the state of American politics.

I have said before, that I am against Party Labels, in fact I am against Political Parties, in the main. The fact that one's Father or Grandfather always voted for one Political Party because of something a member of that Party once did that the voter found favor with, is a poor excuse, and I think perhaps reflects one's eagerness to believe anything they read, or see on Television. It doesn't matter whether one is speaking of a Democrat, a Republican, a Whig or a Tory-leaning Independent, it serves no one, and no country, to automatically label a candidate as good or bad, simply on the basis of their "Party Label" Wake up and smell the Roses,people, before all you are smelling is the roots of Daisys.

Until and if, we Americans ever get over the habit of treating American citizens, who just happen to be running for the same office as are we, as Horrible examples of humanity, and as a definite enemy, I don't think we will ever make much progress in straightening out the mess that is currently our Political System.

I will grant you that the current Political climate is much improved from, say, Mark Twain's time when candidates often referred to one another as thieves, murderers, baboons (As I recall reading in one old Election Broadside, Abraham Lincoln referred to), and saying both in print and in speeches, that the opposing candidate should be either shot, hanged, sent to jail or ridden out of town on a rail.

Perhaps the ill will in politics reflects the standard of behavior in our Glorious nation. It seems that good manners are more and more going the way of the Dodo and the Dinosaur . I take note of occasions when people are mannerly and nice, opening doors for other people, saying such simple things as "please" and "Thank You" to one another . I take such note as a departure from what has become the norm.

There was a time when such politeness was more or less a given and people minded their manners as a matter of course, and of habit. Such a time, has, I'm afraid become long gone.

So, perhaps the Political climate currently of notice should be a Bellwether of things we ,each of us, should try to rectify in our own daily commerce.

Take time to tell someone to have a nice day, and chances are they will.

As for the Massachusetts election, I hope neither of the Candidates Win. Wouldn't that be a statement?

Stay Well


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First Post of the New Year

Good Morning Good People:

Well, as happens every year, we have a brand new year to face, hopefully with a full heart and a positive outlook. As in all years, we will, most of us, face new challenges, accomplish perhaps a modicum of the things we wish to accomplish, and even in the odd instance, keep some of our New Years Resolutions.

As for me, I did not make any New Resolutions for this year. In the back of my mind, somewhere around a unvoiced vow to, among other things, reduce my waistline by one size, continue to love and appreciate my Wife and Children (The latter is the hardest)continue in my efforts to become a better writer, walk my Dog more often, and abstain from writing about Politics and Religion, there are desires but not resolutions lurking therein.

You will note that I did not include criticisms of individual Politicians and even the odd Religious Leaders. For instance, if the Pope started to be seen in public wearing a speedo and Ice Skates, I'm sure I could not resist the impulse to comment on such happening, and in the same vein, I am sure that I will be unable to resist the literary tarring and feathering of certain Politicians.

Now let me stress one thing. I play no favorites because of Party Affiliation. I have found more to criticise about almost all politicians, regardless of Party than I am able to remember. There is enough of a veritable Rogue's Gallery of errant fools on both sides of the legislative aisle, to keep one hundred scribes busy for one hundred years if we keep up with National News,and if we all did our homework and dug a little deeper, I think we would probably continue to lose what faith we still have in Human Nature. I think we would probably find that our Congress, and upwards, consists mainly of clones of Homer Simpson, playing eeny-meenie-miney-mo with the control panel of State.

In this vein, I might suggest some New Years Resolutions for All High Ranking (or just plain Rank) Politicians, to wit;

I (insert name of any Politician here), hereby resolve to do the following.

1. I resolve to truly represent the People of my State.

2. I resolve to stop making back room deals to fatten my wallet or that of a chosen few cronies.

3. I resolve to make no Television Appearances, save at my arraignment.

4.. I resolve to stop wasting the Public Dollar (that's gonna be a hard one)

5. I resolve to sign all letters MYSELF, and to discard my Autopen and no longer allow my staff to sign my name to anything.

6.. I resolve to READ and try to understand all bills on which I vote, and if it follows that there are too many bills for me to read, I resolve to make mention of the fact on the Floor of Congress, in order to streamline the Engine of Government, and cut down on Nonsensical Bills.If necessary I will find a Library Lady somewhere to read the bills to me, that way perhaps I could have at least a hazy idea of what my job is.

And last but not least, I resolve to not run for re-election.

The reader will no doubt perceive that I find it easier to make resolutions for other people than for myself.

Don't we all?