Chapter 1: The origins of language 1. Egyptian Pharaoh Psammeticus (664 –610 B.C.

) – two newborn
infants – with goats – cared for by mute shepherd – after 2 years, the first
word uttered ‘becos’ meaning ‘bread’, a Phrygian word – Phrygian, ancient
1) Otto Jespersen (1921) language of Phrygia (N. W. corner of Turkey). Pharoah concluded that must
be the original language, but failed to be confirmed by other researchers.
Human language originated while human beings were enjoying themselves.
But, it is just a speculation. 2. James IV of Scotland (1473 – 1513) – performed a similar
experiment – children matured – spoke Hebrew. Unfortunately all other
(1) The divine source:
cases of discovered of children living in isolation without contact with
According to: ( In most religion, God provides human language) human speech do NOT confirm the result of ‘divine source experiments’.

1. Judeo-Christian belief – Adam 3. In 1920, two wild children, Amala and Kamala, were found in India
– in 1970, a child called Genie discovered - had been confined to small
2. Egyptian – Thoth
room – received minimal human contact – none of these children was able
4. Hindus – Sarasvati (wife of Brahma- the creator of universe) to speak or knew any language – conclusion: children living without access
to human speech grow up with no langue at all.
6. The Tower of Babel story: “because the Lord did there confound the
language of all the earth and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad (3) The natural-sound source:
upon the face of all the earth: (Genesis II: 9) – accounts for the diversity of
Hypothesis: Primitive 原 始 的 words are imitations of the natural
sounds which early man and women heard around them
(2) Experiments to verify divine origins of language:
i. Object flew by with making a CAWCAW sound, and then human
Hypothesis: If infants were allowed to grow up without hearing any imitated the sound and used it to refer to the object associated with
language, then they would spontaneously begin using the original God the sound.
-given language. ii. The situation same as an object flew by and make a CUCKOO

disgust. etc. wood lips’ proposed by Richard Paget (1930)– hard to visualize oral gestures that – abstract ideas – truth. lips.Conclusion: All modern languages have some words with pronunciations set of physical gestures (pantomimes – representing actions. messages) – called ‘a specialized pantomime 哑剧/默剧 of the tongue and buzz.C. useful in producing the sounds such as ‘p. resemble modern humans – there was partial adaptation of yuck. sorrow. roughly even in height. – grunts. which seem to ‘echo’ natural occurring sounds could be used to support this’ – lips: more intricate muscle interlacing than in other primates – Physical gesture which involving the whole body could have been a means very flexible. as source of language sounds. gorilla and a Neanderthal man (around 60. etc. (6) Physiological adaptation: (4) The oral-gesture source: Teeth: upright.w’ – mouth: of indicating a wide range of emotional states and intentions. swear words – This language – some physical aspects of human that are not shared with other indicating that language developed in social context – but does not shed creatures – transition to upright posture – bipedal (two-legged) locomotion light on the origin of the sounds produced – apes have grunts and social 移动 – revised role for the front limbs– differences between the skull of a calls. etc. cuckoo. communication) b) ‘Yo – heave – ho’ theory of language origin: Sounds made by persons (5) Glossogenetics: involved in physical efforts. – expressed in words. 000 B. especially when that physical effort involved several people and had to be coordinated. etc. 35. useful in producing sounds such as Oral gesture theory – a link between physical gesture and oral gesture – ‘f.) were developed for (nonverbal) communication – then oral theory. cawcaw. gestures (movements of tongue.v. (Create a medium for a set of words used as ‘names’ for entities.) – Neanderthals could have made some consonant-like sound distinctions (based on the c) Natural cries of emotions as source of language: Emotional cries of reconstructed vocal tract) – reconstructed fossilized skeletons of about pain. characters. screech. – interjections (expressive noises) seem to be unlikely candidate certain physical features – that appears relevant for speech.b. but have not developed the capacity for speech.) were recognized according to patterns of movements similar to physical gestures – movement of tongue a) ‘Bow-wow theory’ of language origin: Formation of words by imitating representing waving of hand in a ‘goodbye’ message (both in similar (echoing) natural sound (onomatopoeia) – bow wow. wow. ah.C.000 B. – how about soundless objects – stone. etc. rattle. groans (when lifting and Focuses on the biological basis of the formation and development of human carrying bits of trees or lifeless mammoths 毛 象 ) . happiness – We are sceptical that language is simply can mimic various physical gestures or vice-versa. hiss. joy. such as ouch.originally a .

can be used to shape a wide variety of sounds – very flexible – knowledge. socially differ? or emotionally – to indicate friendliness. Transaction: Human used those linguistic abilities to communicate structure. information from one generation to the next– through larynx: the voice box contains vocal cord (folds) – lower in humans – spoken and written language. annoyance. Ability to name objects – 2. skills. Combining naming words to 3) What special features of human teeth and lips make them useful in build complex messages. such as tool using and language largely confined to the left hemisphere for 1) What is the basic idea behind the ‘yo-heave-ho’ theory? 2) What specific type of claim is made by the ‘oral gesture’ theory? most humans – 1. co-operation. Interaction: Use of language to interact with one another. pleasure. pain. ugh. hostility. (Bow-wow. wow. on pieces of food. unlike monkey.relatively small – open / close rapidly – tongue: very complex muscular 2. and how do they 1. the production of speech sounds? 4) What exactly happened with the larynx and why was it a (7) Interaction and transaction: disadvantage? 5) What are the two major functions of language.brain: lateralized in humans – each of The study questions the two brain hemispheres has specialized function – analytical functions. cuckoo. The transfer function of language remains pharynx: cavity above vocal cord – can act as resonator 共 鸣 器 for any fairly restricted in time and space as long as it can only be realized in sounds via larynx– Position of human larynx make human easily choke speech. speech with physical gesture) .