Memory and Imagination, Evolution of Language

Topics: Language, Human evolution, Evolution Pages: 8 (2816 words) Published: November 16, 2012

Qasim Dad
Department of English Language and Literature
University of Sargodha

Daniyal Hassan
Department of English Language and Literature
University of Sargodha

One of the mysteries is human existence. From where we came and to where shall we go? These are the questions always faced by mankind in every phase of its consciousness. Different people of different ages have tried to give answers of these questions that are in the form of different theories. Revealed books like Holy Quran and Bible give a simple, mythical and less confusing answer to the question of human existence. For centuries, mankind has been believing in the myth of creation of Adam and Eve till 19th century when Charles Darwin, in his book "Origin of Species," proposed a new theory of Evolution. According to his theory, humans evolved from apes rather than exclusively created by the God. Archeological evidences also support this theory of evolution. But this theory of evolution answers only structural changes in human brain and body. One of the remarkable characteristics of humans is the use of language for communication. Humans are unique in this quality of them. No other animal has language as a tool for communication and expression as humans do. Now, the problem with evolutionary theory is that it says that humans are descendants of apes but apes do not have a language like humans. If apes do not have a language, it means that language is also evolved in humans but through which process, evolutionary theory is unable to explain it. Several theories were proposed to tackle the question of evolution of language in humans. Scientists, philosophers and linguists tried in their own way to solve the riddle of language evolution. Most of theories proposed by these people are simply based on conjectures without any scientific or logical evidences. Archeology, also, stands helpless at this stage. In 1866, discussions on this topic were banned by the Linguistics Society of Paris just after seven year after the publication of Darwin's "Origin of Species." This was, somehow, an acknowledgement of defeat by the evolutionists in this field. Then in 1965, the linguists allowed the study of language evolution after 99 years. One of the unique qualities of humans along with language is their strong memory. Human brain has a remarkable quality to store information for a long period and it can also recollect this information after a long time. Whatever was the process through which humans acquired language, their strong memory would have played a vital role in that process. Under the following study, different theories about evolution of language and criticism on these theories will be discussed. Then, by adding a new factor of humans' memory, these theories will be reconsidered and answer of the question of language evolution will be tried to resolve. The Animal Sound Theory

According to some linguists and scientists language evolved from the sounds and noise made by the animals. Gradually, when human mind grew sharper, they created more sounds by themselves and these sounds eventually became words with meanings. Somehow, syntax was developed and gradually, the sounds became language. This theory seems reasonable to only some extent. Sounds created by our primates could have become words and developed meanings. The problem with this theory is that animals, very often, do not produce sounds for any kind of communication. Most of animals have a set of sounds to communicate emotions; barking, growling, hissing, chirping, cackling etc (Trask, 1999). But these noises only express feelings, not ideas. Animals make sounds due to their instincts. When they do so, they do it involuntarily. For example, when a dog is angry, it barks. Barking of dog is not a voluntary sound production just like laughing and weeping...
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