The History of Language

‘Speech is so essential to our concept of intelligence that its possession is virtually equated with being human.  Animals who talk are human, because what sets us apart from other animals is the “gift” of speech.’
– Philip Lieberman –

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The English word language derives ultimately from “tongue, speech, language” through lingua which is Latin for “language; tongue”.

The debate about the very origin of language remains active today and has been discussed under the premise of different theories. Per evolutionists’ theories, the development of language is nothing more than a fortunate chain of events. Most evolutionists’ theories see the reason for the development of language and speech in humans growing bigger brains and therefore they had the physiological possibility for this development. Per these theories, the human language is a unique and only-human trait that it must have appeared suddenly in the evolution of mankind and can’t be compared to any animalistic equivalent.

Other theorists believe that language by itself is too complex for one to imagine it appearing out of the blue without having evolved through some earlier-stages with our pre-human ancestors. Thinkers such as Rousseau and Herder were confident that the origin of language was the need of expression of emotions. Due to the unfortunate pre-dating history of man, no historical traces have been found dating back to its early development.

However language originally developed or how it evolved, we can surely conclude that oral language was ‘invented’ to communicate or transmit a message to another person but the true origin will most likely remain a topic of debates among theorists, historians and linguists.

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