Origin of language  

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"The recent modern writings of Terrence Deacon and Merlin Donald, writing about the origin of language, also connect reason connected to not only language, but also mimesis. More specifically they describe the ability to create language as part of an internal modeling of reality specific to humankind. Other results are consciousness, and imagination or fantasy. In contrast, modern proponents of a genetic predisposition to language itself include Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker, to whom Donald and Deacon can be contrasted." --Sholem Stein


"'All language, by the nature of its 'transferring' relation to reality ... is fundamentally metaphorical. Metaphor is not something special and exceptional..It is the omnipresent principle' of all language...All languages contain deeply embedded metaphorical structures which covertly influence overt meaning'. 'Metaphor in short is the way language works. A metaphor is made out of and it makes those realities (of life and language).. Metaphor is at the centre of language that the process of metaphor is located at the heart of language and indeed defines and refines it, and thus man himself, remains the central stance of most Twentieth Century writers on the subject and their overriding preoccupation" (Brook-Rose 1958, Hawkes 1972, Richards 1936, Black 1954). Much of what is quoted above is taken from I.A. Richards' The Philosophy of Rhetoric." --The Natural Origin of Language (2012) by Robin Allott [In fact, alsmost every quote stems from Hawkes, 1972, JWG]

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The origin of language and its evolutionary emergence in the human species have been subjects of speculation for several centuries. The topic is difficult to study because of the lack of direct evidence. Consequently, scholars wishing to study the origins of language must draw inferences from other kinds of evidence such as the fossil record, archaeological evidence, contemporary language diversity, studies of language acquisition and comparisons between human language and systems of communication existing among animals (particularly other primates). Many argue that the origins of language probably relate closely to the origins of modern human behavior, but there is little agreement about the implications and directionality of this connection.

This shortage of empirical evidence has led many scholars to regard the entire topic as unsuitable for serious study. In 1866, the Linguistic Society of Paris banned any existing or future debates on the subject, a prohibition which remained influential across much of the Western world until late in the twentieth century. Despite this, there is scarcely more agreement today than a hundred years ago, when Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection provoked a rash of armchair speculation on the topic. Since the early 1990s, however, a number of linguists, archaeologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and others have attempted to address with new methods what some consider one of the hardest problems in science.

History of research

Late 18th to early 19th century European scholarship assumed that the languages of the world reflected various stages in the development from primitive to advanced speech, culminating in the Persian language, seen as the most advanced. Modern linguistics does not begin until the late 18th century, and the Romantic or animist theses of Johann Gottfried Herder and Johann Christoph Adelung remained influential well into the 19th century. The question of language origins seemed inaccessible to methodical approaches, and in 1866 the Linguistic Society of Paris famously banned all discussion of the origin of language, deeming it to be an unanswerable problem. An increasingly systematic approach to historical linguistics developed in the course of the 19th century, reaching its culmination in the Neogrammarian school of Karl Brugmann and others. However, scholarly interest in the question of the origin of language has only gradually been rekindled from the 1950s on (and then controversially) with ideas such as Universal grammar, mass comparison and glottochronology. The "origin of language" as a subject in its own right emerged out of studies in neurolinguistics, psycholinguistics and human evolution. The Linguistic Bibliography introduced "Origin of language" as a separate heading in 1988, as a sub-topic of psycholinguistics. Dedicated research institutes of evolutionary linguistics are a recent phenomenon, emerging only in the 1990s.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Origin of language" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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