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The Origins of Language

Introduction

The secrets of language origin attract many scholars and linguists who want to reveal the truth and prove their own points of view. As a result, there emerged numerous theories providing a disputable ground for the research. The roots of human speech could not be still brought to one reason and to one theoretical ground, as there is no direct supporting evidence. Certainly, the rise of linguistic theories considerably simplified the investigation of language so that scholars were greatly promoted to the goal settling. Moreover, the rapid development of science and linguistic disciplines helped to withdraw the biblical theory and to give rise to some evidence-based ones. Hence, the biblical story and the religious aspects did not awake interest anymore; people were in the search of fresh inventions. What is common to all theories is that language is the major trait that differentiating humans from animals.

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The language origin and speech perception by Trask

To start with, Trask presents an interesting theory of language origins interpreting human language as a unique phenomenon (2004:3). At first glance, this brave statement seems to be mistaken if to consider language as “signaling system, some way of communication with other members of the same species” (Trask 2004:3). However, a closer consideration of the issues proves that language is a more complicated system with sub-levels and organization. The author calls these peculiarities as “fascinating and astonishing things” that make language exclusive. Arising from this, the uniqueness of the language lies in its duality, that a possibility to combine meaningless phonemes into meaningful words. Concerning the language origins, Trask sticks to the point that language appeared as soon as human vocal cords and lungs were able to produce some distinctive sounds. In other words, the evolution of language closely relates to the evolution of humans (Trask 2004:18). In that regard, the author suggests calling humans as Homo loquens rather than Homo sapiens. It may be strange but the author assumes that language is not just pronounced words so that speech could not be regarded as medium speech if regarding deaf people whose sign system consist in body language (Trask 2004:19).

Motor theory of speech perception

In Crystals Book, the author refers to another theory of speech perception put forward in the 60s of the twentieth century. Due to the fact that there is a great difference between the process of hearing and listening, the proposed motor theory of speech perception consists in brain capability to define meaningful units of language rather than meaningless elements. According to this theory, human speech is an inborn phenomenon that is typical of human beings only (Crystal 49). This point of view is rather consistent and logically explained due to many reasons. First, humans only possess such motor mechanism; secondly, only humans can detect semantic units; finally, animals could perceive only certain repeated phrases with certain intonation in comparison with people.

Nature cries or human invention by Fromkin and Rodman

Fromkin and Rodman (1998) believe that human language was derivative from the gesture language being a means of emotional expression. They state that lungs and vocal tract replaced human hands becoming busier with the use of tools. The organs of articulation were recognized as the main reproducers of human thoughts. As it can be viewed, human language appeared as the necessity to reveal hands from function of rendering thoughts. According to this, the authors put forward an idea that human language is a developed quality occurs as the necessity but not innate capability (Fromkin & Rodman 1998:54). On the other hand, language could be regarded as the gift of God destined for people to communicate. This theory could be acknowledged in religion but not in science.

Considering the above-mentioned opinions, the language origin has many disputable points. First, it is necessary to consider the way we perceive the language so that it is disputable whether it is perceivable by humans only. Secondly, we should differentiate between hearing and listening pertaining to human speech perception. Finally, there is a great controversy concerning the underpinning of language evolution where language is regarded as both cries of nature or human invention. All the theories of language development are rather consistent and supported by bright examples and anecdotes. Still, the theory presented by Fromkin and Rodman fully reveals the gradual evolution of language and its essential functions. Their concepts disclose a veritable picture of language processes and transformations. Especial consideration deserves the idea of inherent connection of human thought and human speech thus proving that neuroscience should participate in the language study.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be stressed that language is kind of puzzle consisting of language anatomy, physical peculiarities, evolutional and anthropological theories related to linguistic study (Aitchison 2000:10). Therefore, it is impossible to use unilateral approach to the investigation human language origin. The components of language puzzle refer to external and internal evidence where the former analyze non-linguistic factors of language formation and the latter investigates the language processes (Aitchison 2000:11). Certainly, there is no apparent distinction between these two areas but what is evident is language could be considered as an isolated phenomenon.

Reference List

Aitchison, J, 2000, The seeds of speech: language origin and evolution, Cambridge University Press, UK.

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Crystal, D, 2006, How Language Work: How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, and Language Live or Die, Overlook Hardcover, US.

Fromkin, V & Rodman R, 1998, An introduction to language, Harcourt Brace College Publishers, US.

Trask, R. 2004. Language: the basics. Routledge, New York.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 25). The Origins of Language. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-origins-of-language/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 25). The Origins of Language. https://studycorgi.com/the-origins-of-language/

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'The Origins of Language'. 25 November.

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