Wednesday, December 14, 2005

the first language

This is a question I just answered on Yahoo! Answers, which BTW is addictively mediocre:

by: farida q
subject: when languages were first introduced?

how people started communicating each other?
in the beginning was there only sign language?
which language was the first to be spoken by human?

Language is always changing, therefore the language that was first spoken by humans no longer exists. It is the mother that gave birth to all of the languages that exist today. The mother's spirit is in all the children, but none of the children are the mother.

A sort of Holy Grail of linguistics would be to discover what the mother of all languages was like. It's possible that with enough study we can figure out something about it-- we have after all learned quite a bit about Indo-European, a prehistorical language which has been discovered by careful examinations of the commonalities between modern languages stretching all the way across Europe and Asia.

The first language probably developed along with the first speakers, people who lived long enough ago that not just their cultures but even their bodies were substantially different from how things are now.

It's pure speculation, but I think that sign language and spoken language probably emerged at the same time, in that strange noble race. Sign and spoken languages seem to me to share a spiritual core, to be the same in their essence. The great singular power of our facility of language is to make any thing mean any other thing. A pile of rocks may mean a burning fire. Some strangely shaped lines can mean the very "meaning" itself. What a glorious world.



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