Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Implied verbs

From:Lars Finsen <lars.finsen@...>
Date:Thursday, September 21, 2006, 21:29
Perhaps the first language was with only implied verbs. I studied
Chimpanzee language recently trying to analyse it as if their calls
were words in a verbal language. Probably they are just instinctive
calls and not true symbols, just like the non-verbal noises that we
sometimes make, only more evolved, along with a lot of visual signals
- after all, many of ours have been replaced by words. And it did
strike me how easy it was to find words expressing what the Chimps
tried to do with their calls. And further, among these words there
are no verbs. So maybe we can imagine that our own ancestors evolved
their language from a similar system of calls: interjections, nouns
and adjectives. With these they can make statements that we would
translate to: "There is danger!", "What is this?", "This is bad",
"This is good", "Don't do that!", "Mama come to me!" etc., but each
expressed with only one word, so literally: "Danger!", "What?",
"Bad!", "Good!", "No!", "Mama!" etc., with the verb implied.

Instead of uttering sentences the Chimps tend to repeat these simple
calls a lot of times, often with varying pitch. But they have more
complex calls as well, the food calls that are made up of
combinations of four different simple calls to signal the type of
food that has been found - perhaps a truly symbolic form of
communication. And the personal calls, a kind of joik or song to
identify the singer uniquely, consisting of two different simple
calls always in the same sequence, but with the pitch and pattern of
repetition varying.

I should like to work with this a little bit, try to imagine how
Chimpanzeese would develop if we gave them a few millennia, or how
the earliest stages of our languages could have developed...