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

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