View Full Version : Origins of Language

May 18th, 2002, 08:30 PM
Here's an interesting theory of the development of language from today's NYT. I'm not sure if I agree - not enough information on the subject, but I find it interesting speculation. If the author is correct, and human speech was gesture based for a very, very long time (just as some anthropologists and fiction authors like Jean Auel have suggested was the reality for our Neanderthal cousins), it makes you wonder how that might have affected the development of spiritual life. Frankly, it also makes me rethink the purpose of dance, as a dancer myself:


May 21st, 2002, 01:15 PM
This article is right on the money.

I work with a lot of Chinese and Tiawanese people at my company, and while they know English pretty well, we still have some very interesting discussions about our cultures and languages, and often I find myself resorting to the lowest common denominator to communicate some ideas. If I can't communicate a thought to my friend Zheng, I will act it out with gestures so he understands what I'm talking about, and then give it a linguistic label so he can refer to it. Especially when I am trying to teach him terminology relating to gangsta-rappers and street gangs.

May 21st, 2002, 10:11 PM
Yeah I think that article/ theory really has merit. I've read the Jean Auel books too by the way, thought it was cool that you mentioned it hehe. But anyway.. As a future archaeologist/ someone who is very interested in linguistics, I find this whole idea very interesting. Gesture has always been a very important part of language, who's to say that it didn't actually premediate spoken language? Chimps touch each other to communcate ideas, and everyday people make various grimaces and gestures to communicate simple emotions. More importantly it is not an issue whether a gesture based language can be that complex, we already know that from sign language. It's very logical that this could have happened 1st until our ancestors vocal cords developed enough, or developed the culture that appreciated noise, such as song. Maybe even mothers muttering and humming to their babies to sooth them were responsible for starting language.. Or hunters trying to warn another of fast approaching danger.. The possibilities are endless

June 8th, 2002, 09:40 PM
From what ive read and studied language is still VERY dependant upon body language and gesture to convey emotion, context, meaning, etc.... albeit a lot on a subconcious level.

I think it is as important, and probably more important to communication than verbal language.

June 11th, 2002, 05:53 PM
I agree that movement is extremely important, and goodness knows it is a very powerful vehicle for communication in and of itself. But beware of reading too much into body language. Too many misunderstandings have come of misinterpreting signs. Like today's antihistamine commercials: "Bored? Or just bad allergies?"

Have also read long time ago that language actually has a role in forming how we think. Interesting thought!