What is language?
|From:||R A Brown <ray@...>|
|Date:||Monday, January 2, 2006, 16:47|
Andreas Johansson wrote:
> Making individual sounds is the easy part - the tricky one is controling
> breathing so precisely you can chop an outbreath into a long sequence of
> phonemes. Modern humans have a bunch of extra nerves to the breathing
> musculature to faciliate this - early members of our genus, like H. erectus,
> apparently had not, and so presumably were not prone to chattering. Then you
> also need a brain capable of processing all this short sounds more-or-less in
> real time.
I wonder whether that fact the vocal tract had become capable of
producing such a wide range of different sounds did not, in part at
least, act as stimulus to development of extra bunch of nerves & greater
brain power. Just a thought.
> The current best guess seems to be that the physiological and neurological
> prerequisites for human language as we know it today was not in place until
> 200-300k years ago. By this time our lineage was already separate from the
> Neanderthals' - I do not know if parallel changes occured in theirs.
Well, as i have said, i am far from an expert in these matters. But over
the past quarter century there does seem to have been a revaluation of
Neanderthals. In "Pre-Greek Speech on Crete" (1985) I wrote:
"Whether Neanderthal man had developed articulate speech or not is a
debatable question. Anatomically he appears to have been capable of some
form of speech; but there is nothing in his primitive social
organization to indicate that articulate speech was necessary."
The first two sentences still hold true. But I would not write that
third sentence now. See:
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