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Speech Essay

By maglalang May 30, 2013 2090 Words
Humans are the only organisms known to be able to communicate by means of abstract symbols and speech. Ever since the inception of the Darwinian theory of evolution tracing the decent of man from its primeval ancestors has been a generally accepted nuance, however the origin and development of speech has been much more bewildering. Language has grown to be such an identifying aspect of man that it has often been accepted that speech is a trait bestowed upon is by a greater being. However this essay will focus on scientific theory and the purported origins, mechanisms, reasons for, development of civilization and future evolutionary aspects in relation to human speech. The course of the formation of human phonetic language and communication was one that relied on natural selection as well as selective pressures which led humankind to adapt in such a way to communicate with one another to form the basis for civilization.

The mechanisms for speech are the properties which should first be interpreted in order for one to develop an understanding of the aspects of human speech and its implications. There are three main processes involved with the action of sharing an idea between members of the human species. They are the articulation and synthesis of an idea in the motor cortex, the resulting motion and action that occurs within the lungs, glottis, velum, tongue, lips and jaw to express the idea and the sound generation model which ones brain has been accustomed to operate the larynx in such a way as to produce understandable language. When an idea is first synthesized in the motor cortex, the brain begins by sending signals to the parts of the body such as the lungs and the larynx to initialize the

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vocalization the thought. The lungs then expel air to pass over the vocal cords located in the larynx that orient themselves in such a way as to express the idea by way of sound out of the buccal cavity. Though a complex procedure from a scientific standpoint, the process takes such little time and effort that one usually does not realize the complexity of the mechanisms behind their expression of ideas through spoken communication. These mechanisms may also be aided in communication between people, with gestures or body language which may be unique to certain cultures and distinct groups. For example, people of Italian backgrounds are very well known to express emotion as well as language with the aid of gestures and physical movements. The formation of an idea and its expression in the form of vocalization, with many different languages and near infinite ideas that can be seen is a trait that is unique to mankind.

Humankind's evolution from communication systems in nonhuman primates such as Australopithecus afarensis to the speech that exists today is a process which has puzzled scientists and philosophers. If the basic structural principles of language cannot be learned from bottom up. This is evident as we as a species are light years ahead in terms of development in the area of linguistics as compared to other primates which have been existent alongside us for millenia. Thus, it must be inferred that our species underwent a mutation within our genes that allowed us to develop speech with a magnitude and effect on our species equivalent to that of the Big Bang. This scientific theory is supported by humankind creation and fostering of the idea of civilization, as it is speech and communication that is the conduit for successful living in a society of intellectual, cultural and material development. In addition, the conceptualization of speech among those of the human species can be seen as an action of natural selection. Those that did not have the capacity to communicate were not Maglalang 3

able to survive in the ever changing and developing world were not able to produce offspring that would carry on their traits. The early hominids that could communicate to a greater extent were able to reproduce and pass on traits which would predispose their offspring with alleles that expressed a motor cortex that was enabled for increased phonetic use. Over time this natural selection, which selected for mutation that enabled increased vocalizational importance and use, led to the development of the human species as it exists today. Thus, phonation marked the beginning of progress in the arts and sciences, the extensive use of record keeping, the formation of writing and language and the appearance of complex political and social institutions, is essence; the formation of civilization.

Civilization is the key to human success as a species and its beginnings can be seen as the greatest turning point in terms of overall effect on our collective nature as a species as it enabled mankind to live within a societal state. This fostered the basis for our achievements in the modern world and formed us into the species we are today. Speech, being a cause of natural selection was a consequence of a natural world which demanded a shift from the predominately nomadic lifestyle of early man to cooperation and shared societal bounds as outlined by the social contract. In which, for man to live in a civilization with others he had to give up some of his own rights to be granted the privilege to coincide with others and live under a primeval form of civil society. This can be seen as the action which separates man from the apes. This social contract could have only been sparked by the development of speech and communication which then flourished and developed further into many different languages as time progressed and civilizations developed. The use of speech was a catalyst for the formation of the great civilizations of the ancient world such as those of Greece, Egypt, Rome Maglalang 4

and Persia. Due to the fact that it allowed the people of each civilization the means to communicate with one another and enabled them to advance their ideas into more complex forms and create new inventions and innovations which would lead to further progress. One example of this was the use of writing systems such as hieroglyphics by the ancient Egyptians as a way to record concepts. This took speech, in its temporary form and made it possible for ideas which were once conveyed only through vocalization and gave the ideas which it contained the ability to survive for as long as the writing stayed legible. It can be said this was the first major innovation since the dawn of speech. Thus, starting an era of human communication and sharing of ideas to foster societies that collectively strive for advancement.

Innovations such as radio, electronics and the telephone over the last few centuries have been astounding. These were all created due to humankind’s need for communication and the coexistence which we as a species share to create a better world for ourselves and our children. Since speech itself is but a mechanism of evolution, vocalization over time may evolve exponentially over many further years of human existence. A major contributor to the communication and expression of ideas in today's world and an innovation in and of itself for all mankind is electronics and computers. They have allowed communication, to reach its full potential, as now any idea anywhere in the world can be vocalized or sent through another media. A specific niche of computer technology lies within the realm of text messaging and email. These forms of communication have been rising in popularity during recent years and have become the dominant form of communication in business settings due to the convenience they gave the user. It can be assumed that technology itself, will evolve and progress around humankind’s use of it. For example, future innovations may lead to devices which are Maglalang 5

controlled by the brain and its impulses. These technologies may render the use of speech obsolete and communication may one day be solely based around the use of technology. These speculations provide an example of just how much communication, co existence and cooperation between those of the human species can lead to great innovations and advancements for the world. This all due to the development of one of the easiest things for most to do; speak.

Human speech and its development have been the greatest evolutionary stepping stone that humankind has gone through in relation to the formation of the world and civilization as we know it. Communication is an integral part of coexistence on the planet as a species and is important in every aspect of one's daily life. By looking into the science, mechanisms, reasons for, development of speech in relation to civilization and future evolutionary aspects in relation to human civilization, it has been seen that speech was an intrinsic component in the creation and maintenance of society, and communication itself will evolve to shape the world of tomorrow. The fact of the matter is that language is quintessentially a human trait. And if one cannot hear no evil or see no evil, he could speak no evil; nor good.

Origins of Human Speech

Ryan Maglalang
Mrs. Hurst-Metcalfe et Mr. Killoran
World History through the Sixteenth Century
19th December 2012
Definitions of Terms

Darwinian theory of evolution- The process of development in which an organ or organism becomes more and more complex by the differentiation of its parts; a continuous and progressive change according to the theories of Charles Darwin and by means of resident forces. Motor Cortex- Area of the frontal lobe of the brain just anterior to the central sulcus which is responsible for voluntary movements of the eyes (as well as other voluntary movements of other parts of the body). The motor cortex in each hemisphere controls mainly muscles on the opposite side of the body. It is laid out according to the parts of the body, with the region controlling the feet at the top and the region controlling the legs, the trunk, the arms and the head in descending order. Glottis- The vocal apparatus of the larynx, consisting of the true vocal cords and the rima glottidis. Velum- The bony and muscular partition between the oral and nasal cavities; the roof of the mouth. Buccal Cavity- The vestibule of the mouth, specifically the area lying between the teeth and cheeks. Australopithecus afarensis- An extinct genus of African hominid

Annotated Bibliography

Hockett, Charles F. The Origin of Speech. New York: Columbia University, 1960. Print.

Charles F. Hockett sets out to explore the topic of the origins of speech. The topic is heavily researched and the report contains diagrams as well as explanations for the various mechanisms for human speech. This report will be a major contribution to the essay as it provides much of the knowledge and resources for the subject matter of the essay. Specific parts of it that will be used to develop my thesis are the diagrams as well and other sources located within the report.

Langer, Susanne K. "The Origins of Speech and Its Communicative Function." AnthonyFlood.
Ed. Anthony Flood. N.p., 20 June 2008. Electronic. 11 Dec. 2012. .

Susanne K. Langner explores the topic of why speech had to have arisen as a means of survival. The topic is very well researched and is very insightful in terms of the subject matter. Contains a plethora of sources that relate to the topic and can be explored to help further this essay. This essays focus on language from an evolutionary aspect helped very much in the body of the essay.

Thompson, Bert, Ph.D., Brad Harrub, Ph.D., and Dave Miller, Ph.D. "The Origin Of Language And Communication." The True Origin Archive. True Origin Archive, 2003. Electronic. 11 Dec. 2012. .

The article is an in depth analysis of speech and its functions. As well it serves to show a religious side to this subject and outlines the cultural impacts of speech and the types of languages that developed since the dawn of man. As well it explores the various parts of the body and brain involved with speech and the art of getting ideas across, by way of diagrams of the anatomy of speech. As well, it explores our human evolution and how this involved the use of speech to further our species. This article proves to be an invaluable resource for the needs of this essay.

"Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus." The Free Dictionary. Farlex, n.d. Electronic. 19 Dec. 2012.

This website was an invaluable resource for the completion of my definition of terms page.

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