How did language originate? | INFJ Forum

How did language originate?

Discussion in 'History, Travel, and Culture' started by The_Mysterious_Stranger, Jan 13, 2020.

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  1. The_Mysterious_Stranger

    The_Mysterious_Stranger Community Member

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    I've always been interested in languages and how they originated. Apparently, about 2000 BC, nomads had groups of Indo European languages.

    By about 3000 BC Semitic languages are spoken over a large tract of desert territory from southern Arabia to the north of Syria. Several Semitic peoples play a prominent part in the early civilization of the region, from the Babyloniansand Assyriansto the Hebrewsand Phoenicians. And one Semitic language, Aramaic, becomes for a while the Lingua franca of the Middle East.

    There are about 5000 languages spoken in the world today (a third of them in Africa), but scholars group them together into relatively few families - probably less than twenty. Languages are linked to each other by shared words or sounds or grammatical constructions. The theory is that the members of each linguistic group have descended from one language, a common ancestor. In many cases that original language is judged by the experts to have been spoken in surprisingly recent times - as little as a few thousand years ago.

    So what are all your thoughts are on how language originated among humanity?
     
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  2. Ginny

    Ginny Idiot Savante

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    I think there are different points converging. On my phone, or I would elaborate a little more.

    At some point, humantiy has grown to be the animal species with the most impact on this planet. We didn't have to fight for survival in the immediate sense, but had grown into more complex social structures. We needed to communicate more abstract ideas that are not dependent on time or space (which is called 'displacement' in linguistics, a phenomenon exclusive to human languages), since as a species we have chosen to be social and smart as a strategy to ensure survival of the tribe, and to comunicate with other tribes as well.

    I guess there are a few points in my mind I am missing to make the point more encompassingly comprehensive, but this is all I can think of at the moment :)
     
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  3. BeautifulSuffering

    BeautifulSuffering Regular Poster

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  4. OP
    The_Mysterious_Stranger

    The_Mysterious_Stranger Community Member

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    Could you elaborate?
     
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  5. Aneirin

    Aneirin AKA, David
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    what has always puzzled me is why so many languages? I mean, it seems that we know that humankind originated from the same place, so how did a species that come from one area create so many different languages. . and why are there accents..there's another mystery
     
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  6. OP
    The_Mysterious_Stranger

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    Accents are perhaps a result of climate. Climates may change the evolution of intonation. What's interesting is in more brutal climates like Korea, Japan, China, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Iceland, UK, Germany, the languages tend to have the most words / complex grammar.

    As far as the number of languages, each tribe that evolved must have developed its own language. It's easier to work in smaller groups, maybe?
     
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  7. Ginny

    Ginny Idiot Savante

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    Well, let's play this through:

    If language originated in one place, with a small vocabulary and little to no grammatical structure, and one person brings it to another tribe, inventing new words, then it explains different vocabulary.

    I have found grammar is very much dependent on culture. It shows how a tribe thinks differently from another.

    Within a single tribe, no matter how similar the words and grammar, it will evolve on a level of social groups and individuals. Hence, colloquialism and accents.

    Accents also come about through interaction with other tribes, communicating with tribes of different languages. Assimilation, differentiation and simplification are very important here.

    There are a lot of points to consider besides the ones I mention, all of which are covered in historical linguistics, especially morphology and syntax.
     
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  8. Aneirin

    Aneirin AKA, David
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    I would love to learn more about this. .it's one of those life mysteries for me
     
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  9. Ginny

    Ginny Idiot Savante

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    You can learn a lot by looking at a single language first. English is a simple language, well-recorded since the first element of writing discovered and preserved. A very good object of initial study, if you want to look at development. Not just because I studied it :sweatsmile:
     
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  10. OP
    The_Mysterious_Stranger

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    That makes sense that English has so many words because they colonized all over the world and mixed with so many cultures, while evolving from German.
     
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    The_Mysterious_Stranger

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    But why does Korean have the most words? What is so special about that peninsula?
     
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    The_Mysterious_Stranger

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    The_Mysterious_Stranger

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    I suppose the number of words depends on how big the tribe, kingdom, or empire.
     
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    The_Mysterious_Stranger

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  15. Pin

    Pin "Magnificent Bastard" / Ren's Counterpart

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    This is why Noam Chomsky is way smarter than me, he cares intensely about things like this. :sob:
     
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  16. OP
    The_Mysterious_Stranger

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    Apparently the more north the equator, the less languages that are needed, because groups become larger. In warmer climates, one can work in smaller groups, and thus, more languages.
     
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    The_Mysterious_Stranger

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  18. Ginny

    Ginny Idiot Savante

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    There's a balance which needs to be maintained in a language. More complex languages need less vocabulary to express the same thing, while less structured ones need more words to make the idea come across. Of course, semantics and pragmatics provide an ounce of leeway to that rule, but it's the basic logical assumption behind this difference.
     
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  19. OP
    The_Mysterious_Stranger

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    So you're saying Korean has a less complex language?
     
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  20. Ginny

    Ginny Idiot Savante

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    Not quite. It has more varieties due to colonisation, but it doesn't automatically get taken into the base lexicon. That is changed by being conquered, which also happened numerous times in British history.
     
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