Re: What is language?
|From:||Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, January 5, 2006, 14:06|
Quoting Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>:
> 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.
> > apparently had not, and so presumably were not prone to chattering. Then
> > also need a brain capable of processing all this short sounds more-or-less
> > real time.
> > 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.
> SPOKEN human language, yes. But, why should the first languages have
> been spoken? Why couldn't they have been sign languages? Even
> chimpanzees have sufficient manual dexterity for that. And even without
> the control of breathing, I could imagine an early hominid speaking in
> short bursts. It would've been slow, yes, but it could work. Just as
> ... one can ... talk like ... this, and ... be un- ... derstood.
I never said anything about the first language, or sign language, or speaking in
short bursts. I addressed spoken language of a modern type because that's
something I can say something meaningful about.
FWIW, H. erectus patently had sufficient manual dexterity for sign language. But
there's no way we can tell whether they actually used a form of gestural
communication sophisticated enough we'd call it a "language". We however *can*
tell, with a fair amount of certainty, that they did not chatter away in
modern-style spoken language.