Art and the philosophy of life

Language…oh, yeah

Elephant, Black And White, Animal

I think it’s time we get serious about the elephant in the room.  Language.  No matter how we look at it, no one REALLY knows where it came from.

The first beings that were kind of like us, didn’t have the physical equipment to be able to speak.  Another group, who were around at the same time, were more well endowed, as far as vocal cords and all that stuff went. But does anyone think that one of them picked up a twig and said, “STICK,”  then suddenly, that word was passed down to every generation thereafter, like monkeys using tools to get insects out of a log with a stick?  Or, do you think they sounded like they were speaking ig pay attenlay, otherwise known as pig latin?

See that’s the thing with this whole language mess.  Who made it up?  Where did it come from?  I love it when someone says, “It’s from the Latin word apple.”  Excuse me?  Where did Latin come from, and who, or WHAT, decided what to name EVERYTHING and invent verbs?

I think it’s impossible to find the beginning of language.  Did a man walk into a cave, take one look at the wall and say, “Nice hand and antelope drawings now what’s for dinner?”  I don’t THINK so.

Did Latin just spring up from an old toga?  Nope.  Languages have lots of words.  How did any of them get to mean what they mean?  Who or what, made it all up.

And..let’s not forget that it’s HARD TO LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE.  So, how did they all simply appear, or did the aliens really do it when we started getting cozy with each other and wanted to overthrow them for abuses in labor laws?

There is no logical way to get to the BEGINNING.  Just like the Big Bang that never happened.  When we don’t know something we pretend that we do, or make up a theory and then everyone says, “OMG finally, we can stop trying to find out what really happened and just tell everyone a story that they’ll believe, because humans aren’t all that bright, and we need more grant money.”

How did language happen?  Don’t let anyone tell you how the cave people sounded, or what they talked about on a rainy day.  NO ONE KNOWS.  Remember what they said about dinosaurs skin, until they found out some of them had FEATHERS?  Hard to believe anything we’re told, isn’t it? Look what happened to Pluto.

Do you know that there are words and sounds that you CANNOT pronounce if you didn’t learn how to do it as a wee tot?  That’s true.  So again, who made that up and where did it all start? I don’t believe that Latin was invented anymore than any other language.

I think language was given to us.  Then our memories were erased, not that we’d notice if that happened right now.  We really aren’t that bright…we’re just good at fantasizing.   We don’t know where all the words came from.  And why isn’t there just one language?  Again, the aliens did it to us, but let’s just say they didn’t.  How many words do we really need for STICK?

I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth.  The early people with the more advanced throat things, killed and absorbed the group who could only grunt.  It is possible the less well endowed group couldn’t argue their case, but I think, it was just one of the first power plays to take place between our cousins.   “Hey, look these guys can’t talk, let’s kill them and take the women.”

I don’t look things up on Google very often, since the answers all come from other human beings, and who can trust any of them?  Big Bang, feathered dinosaurs…I mean come on, something is weird in the language department.  There is no way to explain it.  I mean do you think a bunch of guys sat down, after inventing the wheel and fire, and started making up Latin?  Yeah, I don’t think so either.  I think they did a lot of pointing and grunting, just like a lot of guys still do today.

And you know males had a hand in it, since the language is so bloody sexist.  If aliens were involved, I’m thinking the alien males aren’t much better than the human ones.  And I bet the aliens don’t know where their language came from either.

There’s a lot more to this than meets the word, believe me.  I mean stone tablets?  We were trying to communicate from the beginning, but you don’t just develop a language when you don’t have paper, or do you?  Don’t you need a LANGUAGE in order to write?  Duh.  If you didn’t have words, how could you leave a note?  So where did it all come from?  And yes, oral stories have been handed down from generation to generation, no paper or stone tablets needed, but the stories were told in WORDS.  Where did the words and meanings come from.  Where did the descriptive words fit in?  How did it all begin?


Comments on: "Language…oh, yeah" (6)

  1. An interesting question; one that, naturally, at some point couldn’t be asked.

    I think my answer would be that language just evolved from grunts, snorts and other assorted mouth-made noises. At some point, someone said ‘stick’ while holding a, well, a stick, and the guys in earshot thought “hey, that’s a good one, we don’t use that sound to represent anything else (if we did then it would just cause confusion) so let’s use it to name that thing you’re holding there.” Well, of course, they didn’t think it through quite that elaborately, as they didn’t have the words to do so. But even way back then homo fatuus brutus could think and reason even without words; and I’ve no doubt that the value of words as a means to co-operate became clear pretty early on, as in expressions like, “Torgh! Mara! DaH yIHoH!”§

    § That’s Klingon for “Torg! Mara! Kill them now!” (I’ve been learning Klingon for the last three months using Duolingo, and although you claim above that it’s ‘hard to learn a new language, it’s actually not that hard at all to learn anything when it’s taught in a fun way.)

    Anyway, that’s just my tuppence on the subject.

    • Thank you so very much. But even today, I doubt anyone could make up an entire language, because whoever did it, would be using words we already know, just pronouncing them differently. That’s the part we don’t often think about…the very beginning when there were no words to use. Maybe a computer could offer something but in the beginning here were no computers or ways to communicate because the others wouldn’t know the words or be able to understand what was being said. If I go to another country and they speak their own language, if I understand a few words it’s because I memorized them and translated them into my own language. Supposedly, when you stop translating, you have learned the other language, but the first words were not known and who make them up. One person? Could one early person actually make up all of our languages? Or any language that would be known by many people? I don’t believe it’s possible.

      I think it’s great that you’re learning Klingon. Live long and prosper, my friend.

  2. One person can’t invent language on their own. By definition language is about communication, so at least two people have to have a shared understanding of a set of sounds before it can become a word. The idea of one person inventing language does sound overwhelming- which is why it has developed over thousands of years. (Although I’d like to be a fly on the wall to observe the first group to realize that they could communicate that way- I bet there were a lot of nouns invented really fast.)
    I think all animals communicate with others of their species on at least a basic level- warning about predators or to defend territory, telling others that there’s good food, etc. Not all of them use sounds to do so, but if you pay attention to ones that do you can usually recognize some sounds that have a specific meaning- for example chickens almost always squawk in the same way when they see a hawk.
    So an interesting question is what divides simple communication from language? A certain number of words? Use of adjective? Ability to discuss abstract ideas? I’ll have to ask my psycholinguistics Phd. holding sister-in-law if there is an agreed upon point at which language is considered to have been achieved.

    • Oh, please let us know what she has to say. I cannot imagine early people sitting around making up Latin, or any other language. How did it happen? I agree, animals, birds everyone has ways of communicating without words, ruffling feathers, turning colors, hopping…it’s all there. But languages, math, all of it. I don’t see it just starting by itself.

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