Language (was RE: More Green Party)

From: zeb haradon (
Date: Thu Jun 29 2000 - 01:00:05 MDT

>From: Damien Broderick <>
>Subject: RE: More Green Party
>Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000 15:43:12 +1000


>(No, unfair implication, even in jest - I could never think Zeb is an
>idiot... even if he thinks language is an *invention*. How about binocular
>vision, eh? Bipedalism? the corpus callosum? all great gadgets that made
>their free range inventors rich)
>Damien Broderick

If I could travel back in time to only one period and only once, it would be
to whenever language came to be.
I've invented my own words for use in conversation and know other people who
have. I don't think that a single person sat around, making charts out on a
cave wall, until he finally came up with a perfect grammatical structure,
and then introduced it to the clan. But I can imagine a likely situation
where two people - probably siblings for reasons I'll mention - deviced,
consciously or unconsciously, a series of arbitrary signs or noises to
communicate with eachother.
There's a theory, debated, which says that all extant spoken languages today
have a single root language which they are derived from. People have named
this hypothetical language and are trying to reconstruct it. At first I
thought this was a ridiculous idea - but when I think of it, it makes a lot
of sense. I'm sure that language is dependent on several genetic differences
that seperate us from other primates - but at some point in time, this final
mutation occurred in some particular individual which resulted in language -
it was probably his/her children, rather then he himself, who invented
language (he would have nobody to talk with, but his children could talk
with eachother). Unless there was a magic coincidence where this mutation
occurred in different parts of the world at different times, then this one
proto-language which took hold in this single clan is the basis of
everything we say today (the same language would spread with the genes).
Writing though, must have been an invention - different systems by different
people. We have more empirical evidence of this because every writing system
which has come into use during the period of time we have been able to
observe it, has been an invention (korean, iriquois, romanizations of asian

Zeb Haradon (
My personal webpage:
A movie I'm directing:

Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:14:44 MDT