The Origins of Language (by Yule) Jespersen proposes that human language originated while humans were enjoying themselves

. (Speculation) However, we do not know how language originated. We do know that spoken language developed well before written language. Because of this absence of direct physical evidence, there has been no shortage of speculation about the origins of human speech. Theories: a) The Divine Source b) The natural sound source i. The “bow-wow” theory ii. The “pooh-pooh” or interjectional theory iii. The “yo-heave-ho” theory c) The oral gesture source d) Glossogenetics a) The divine source In most religions there appears to be divine source who provides humans with language. In an attempt to rediscover this original divine language, a few experiments were carried out. The basic hypothesis was that if infants were allow to grow up without hearing any language then they would spontaneously begin using the original Godgiven language. (see the two experiments in the copy. Page 2) - Genie - Critical period of language learning:

A Critical Period? It has been suggested that there is a critical period for children to acquire their first language and that this extends into late childhood and possibly until puberty. Linguistic deprivation The suggestion is, however, difficult to test directly. This is because cases of so-called linguistic deprivation during childhood are (fortunately) rare. A study by Grimshaw, Adelstein, Bryden and MacKinnon in 1998 presented the case of a young male who had been profoundly deaf since birth and who grew up in a rural area where he received no formal education. He also had no contact with the deaf community. At the age of 15 years, the youth was fitted with hearing aids that partially corrected his hearing loss and he began to learn (verbal) Spanish. His language development was subsequently monitored over a four-year period. The researchers concluded that, at age 19 years, he demonstrated severe deficits in verbal comprehension and expression. This study, therefore, goes some way to supporting the critical period hypothesis. Lateralization We know that as a child matures, the language functions of the brain become lateralized, i.e. the speech and language centers become localized (for most people) in the left hemisphere. It is hypothesized, therefore, that the socalled neural substrate required for learning language is no longer fully available after the closure of the critical

Splash. Children living without access to human speech in their early years grow up with no language at all. . the early human imitated the sound and used it to refer to the object associated with the sound. or abstract entities could have been referred to. The “bow-wow” theory” The suggestion is that primitive words could have been imitations of the natural sounds.This view assumes that a language is only a set of words which are used as “names”for entities. . such as pain. therefore. This theory places the development of human language in some social context Restriction . Restriction: Children who have been discovered living in isolation tend not to confirm the results of these “divine source experiments”.Although a number of words in any language are onomatopoeic (echoing natural sounds). hiss.They are produced with sudden intakes of breath (the oppposite of ordinary talk) iii. presumably OUCH came to have its painful connotations. i.There are quite few onomatopeic words ii. b) The natural-sound source Basic idea: This view is based on the concept of natural sounds. entails a loss of access to the language learning faculty (the so-called Language Acquisition Device).period. especially when that physical effort involved several people and had to be coordinated. Those words with pronounciations which seem to echo naturally occurring sounds could be used to support this theory. but they do not seem to have developed the capacity for speech . By this route. boom rattle. The “yo-heave-ho” theory The sounds of a person involved in physical effort could be the source of our language. The end of the critical period of language acquisition. making a CAWCAW sound. groans and swear words which they used when lifting and carrying trees or mommoths. (Eg. When an object flew by. The “pooh-pooh” or interjectioinal theory The original sonds of language came from natural cries of emotion. Wow!.Interjections such as Ah!. Hey!. bow-wow. Restriction: . anger and joy. Yuck! are NOT uttered via the consonants and vowels we use in trying to write them down. it is hard to see how soundless. .Apes and other primates have grunts and social calls. A group of early humans might develop a set of grunts. etc) Restriction: . bang.

There is a concentration on some of the physical aspects of humans (past and present)that are not shared with any other creatures. developed. not slanting outwards. The assumption of an upright posture moved the head forward and the larynx lower. even in height. The reconstructed vocal tract of a Neanderthal suggests that some consonant-like sound distinctions would have been possible. specifically involving the mouth. best thought of as partial adaptations(which by themselves would not lead to speech production). above the vocal cords.There is a large number of linguistic messages which would appear to defy transmission via this type of gesturing. You might think of the movement of the tongue(oral gesture) in a ‘goodbye’ message as representative of the waving of the hand or arm (physical gesture) for a similar message. /v/. by Sir Richard Paget) Restriction . This created a longer cavity called the pharynx.c) The oral gesture source It proposes an extremely specific connection between physical and oral gesture. lips and so on were recognized according to patterns of movements similar to physical gestures. b and w  Human mouth: is small. Physiological adaptation  Human teeth: are upright. d) Glossogenetics This speculation on the origins of the human speech focuses on the biological basis of the formation and development of human language. In the evolutionary development there are certain physical features. can be opened and closed rapidly and contains a flexible tongue. Eg. but it is hard to visualize the actual ‘oral’aspect which would mirror many such gestures. . Then a set of oral gestures. that appear to be relevant for speech. which can act as a resonator for any sounds produced via the larynx. /th/)  Human lips: have much more intricate muscle interlacing and their resulting flexibility helps with sounds like p. (-) The position of the human larynx makes it much more possible for the human to choke on pieces of food . Such characteristics are not needed for eating but they are helpful in making sounds (/p/. Originally a ser of physical gestures (parainguistic gestures) was developed as a means of communication.  Human larynx or voice box (containing the vocal cords): differs significantly in positions from that of monkeys.We can use mime or specific gestures for a variety of communicative purposes. It starts with the observation that at some early stage our human ancestors made the transition to an upright posture with bipedal (twolegged)locomotion and a revised role of the front limbs. in which the movements of the tongue. which can be used to shape a wide variety of sounds. (“specialized pantomime of the tongue and lips”.

in part. The human brain is lateralized: it has specialized functions in each of the two hemispheres. co-operation. to establish social bonds. This transfer function of language remains restricted in time and space as long as it can only be realized in speech. skills and information. By its nature speech is transient . Eg. such as tool-using and language are confined to the left hemiphere of the brain. and that both are related to the development of the human brain (complement with the copy) The functions of language: interactional and transactional The interactional function has to do with how humans use language to interact with each other. how they indicate friendliness. pain or pleasure socially or emotionally. whereby humans use their linguistic abilities to communicate knowledge. This noise-making and gesturing (pathic function of language)seems to be characteristic of these function. for the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next. annoyance. It must have developed. Those functions which are analitic. Formulaic language (greeting) The transactional function. It may be that there is an evolutionary connection between the tool-using and languageusing abilities of humans.

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