Created by : Nikolay Kosev Kopchev
Faculty Number : 850-M
Faculty of Classic and Modern Philology
British and American studies
The evolution of languages is a very interesting and in the same time important topic, because using a language, according to biology, is one of the things that make us a species, humans. The more interesting fact is that there are humans in every habitat of the world and it can be seen that the feature of speaking a language helped in the future human adaptation in any kind of habitat. To understand that interesting phenomenon – the language - first we have to understand where and why did it came and how did it progress.
Answering all of these questions is a very hard and difficult thing to do, because there are a lot of theories, but the big problem is the lack of direct evidence. The other problem is that languages have a very big structure (grammatical, phonetic, lexicological, etc) and it can't be said for sure which part of the language “came first”, because of the lack of empirical evidence. The other problem is that scholars don't have an agreement on the topic of language organs – did they develop because of the language, or did the language develop from their presence.
Most of the theories state that language started as a sign code, not as a vocal one. And many scholars believe that an evidence for that are the spontaneous gestures which are present when we speak, the non-verbal communication. Also the presence of the sign language which helps deaf people to communicate with the others. A lot of psychologists, for example, share the opinion that non-verbal communication (and mostly the face mimics) brings more information than the verbal one, but that's another topic.
Charles Darwin, the father of the evolution theory, wrote that the language is an imitation of the sounds and gestures that other animals make. He also writes that the origin of the language is a modification of the surrounding voices, combined with the “instinctive cries” of a man.
What is important for us is to understand what people use language for. Actually, the language is a very unique system for any living species on earth. We use language for different types of communication – not just about the weather or some threat, but we also use it to express our feelings and emotions, to give orders, fairy tales, questions, answers, talk about science or gossip. It can be said that people communicate all the time and that helps the society to grow. People use the language to gather knowledge about the world around us. The typical thing about the human language is the usage of words, lots of words. However, the animal communication system is way different with a dozen of distinctive calls that are used to communicate about danger, threat or food. However, we can see very similar body language between humans and chimpanzees. The problem here is actually communication in the animal world isn't really studied too, we don't know how a lot of species actually communicate. We know very few about the chimpanzees, birds and some water mammals, such as whales, but in general, science isn't really developed in that department too.
But how did the speech start? According to Peter MacNeilage, humans produce vocalizations just like other mammals by using the same organs for feeding and breathing and we use the same systems as them. However, if we take a look at some older human ancestors we can see that the brain and the throat evolved in the different stages, but that doesn't mean that language wasn't used even with a non-evolved throat.
Like it was noted before, the biggest problem for the research is the lack of direct evidences. The oldest written language has everything that a modern language has – words, grammar, structure, but the question is – did the language just appear...
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