Re: Evolution of Language

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Mon Apr 15 2002 - 21:21:57 BST

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    Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2002 21:21:57 +0100
    Subject:  Re: Evolution of Language
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    Hi Grant.

    > Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002 16:31:49 -0700
    > From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    > Subject: Re: Evolution of Languge

    > Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were surrounded by
    > people who did not speak a word of your language?
    > It is at times like this
    > that we appreciate our ability to communicate without language and can see
    > the antecedents from which language came. We manage to get by with hand and
    > facial gestures and making noises that carry no distinct meaning. We find
    > ourselves acting out scenarios we can't express verbally -- pretending to
    > put food in our mouths, making walking motions with our feet, pointing to
    > where we intend to go, and so on.

    This is the point I was making earlier about the need to include the
    non-verbal channels as they are likely IMO to have been the first memes. We
    also use them as adjuncts when we speak as I am sure you are aware.
    > I think language developed as an adjunct to this kind of expression and
    > gradually took over as we became more clever at imparting more meaning to
    > our sounds and increased the number of them we could work with. I think
    > such things as showing and telling stories about the hunt after it was over
    > and everyone was sitting around the fire began long before there was much in
    > the way of formal language. And it had tremendous survival value both as a
    > way of telling people what to watch out for and helping other members learn
    > successful hunting strategies and techniques. The tribe with the best
    > collection of tools, both intellectual and physical, had the best chance to
    > survive. They still do.
    > Grant

    That is why I liked the article in the New Scientist which covers the same
    sort of ground. Language would have begun with the simplest sounds. Those of
    alarm and laughter say. Sounds would begin to differentiate, such as
    different types of dangers for example. Like the article says, you would
    have a kind of pidgin language that would suffice very well for a hunter

    The best tool is only decided upon in the environment it finds itself, which
    is always relative and not absolute, IMHO.



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