Monday, April 19, 2010

Theories Involved In the Origins of Language

The origin of language is referred to as the acquisition of the ability to use language by an earlier stage in the evolution of mankind. There are several theories involved in the origin of language that discusses the possibility of where it really comes from. Be it from within human itself or even from a higher source. It is clearly that these theories are only from a certain people’s point of view and are not actual fact whatsoever.
In 1921, Otto Jespersen came up with a theory that says, “Human language originated while human beings were enjoying themselves”. Then, there is the divine source theory which explains the belief in most religions that languages are provided by a divine source. The Christians and the Jews believe God created Adam and the language of Adam, which as name-giver (Gen 2:19), used it to name all living things although most Jewish authorities maintained that Hebrew was the language of God. The Hindus believe that language comes from the goddess Saravati, wife of Brahma, the creator of the universe.
History contains a number of anecdotes about people who attempted to discover the origin of language by experiment. The first such tale was told by Herodotus. He relates that the Egyptian pharaoh Psammetichus (600 B.C.) had two new-born infants raised by a mute shepherd in order to see what language they would speak. When the children were brought before him, one of them said something that sounded to the Pharaoh like bekos, the Phrygian word for bread. From this Psammetichus concluded that the first language was Phrygian. King James V of Scotland is said to have tried a similar experiment: his children were supposed to have spoken Hebrew.
Then there is the natural sounds source theory that hypothesised that primitive words are imitations of the natural sounds which early men and women heard from around them. Example is the object that flew past by them made a cuckoo sound and thus was named the Cuckoo bird. There is also an explanation for onomatopoeic words such as splash, bang, boom, rattle, buzz and hiss which imitates the sounds that is also called bow-wow (Wauwau). It also theorised on the natural cries of emotions such as pain, anger and joy. Examples like ouch, haha that is the Yo-heave-ho theory which explains the sounds of a person involved in physical effort like when lifting trees or mammoths.
The oral gesture source theory hypothesised the link between physical gesture and orally produced sounds that is developed by Sir Richard Paget in 1930 that explains the movement of the tongue when saying goodbye resembles the movement of waving the hand, while glossogenetics focuses on the biological basis of the formation and development of human language. It explains the transition to upright posture which means bipedal or two-legged locomotion.
Physiological adaptation theory explains that physical features of human beings are good clues for their capacity for speech such as the human teeth that is upright and even in height and the human lips with its flexibility that is needed for sounds like p,b and w. Kehlkopf theorised that the human larynx is positioned lower than monkeys and Rachenhohle also said that the longer cavity called pharynx acts as resonator. This theory also stated that the human brain lateralised, which is to have special functions in each of the two hemispheres. The left hemisphere for analytical, tool using, language and mathematics while the right hemisphere for holistic, music and visual-spatial skills.
The last one is interaction which is the use of language to interact with one another, socially or emotionally, to indicate friendliness, cooperation, hostility and also to express annoyance, pain or pleasure, and, transaction which is the transfer of knowledge and skills in the forms of information from one generation to the next through spoken and written language.
It is suffice to say that, although there are many theories involving the origin of language, there is not one that is truly precise in explaining the origin but it is arguably interesting to discuss further in terms of details in every aspects of the origin.

No comments:

Post a Comment