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How old is language

  1. Oct 10, 2005 #1

    wolram

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    And did it have a sigle origin ? the few pages i have read on this topic do
    not agree, some say language originated 10,000 yrs ago, others suggest
    100,000.
    Some say the origins came from verbalising sign laguage," i suppose it is hard
    to sign in the dark", how would one say, not tonight dear ? so it would have
    been better to make some noise for yes or no at least.
    Did we imitate animal sounds, may be for hunting at first, but later it becomes a way to cominicate, hubby comes home after a days hunting and utters Moo, Moo, which means beef for dinner ?
    Or did language start as a way of warning stranger off, some thing like
    gerr owww became gerowt?
     
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  3. Oct 10, 2005 #2

    arildno

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    Since, for example, chimpanzees (at least bonobos) use distinct warning calls for different predators, the RUDIMENTS of language should be considered to pre-date the ascent of modern man.
     
  4. Oct 10, 2005 #3

    loseyourname

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    Given the ability of gorillas to use sign language, we know that the mental capability to comprehend and use language pre-existed the emergence of humanity (a capability well beyond differential signals for predators, which even prairie dogs can do). I would imagine that the ability to use a vocal language emerged at the same time as the peculiar jaw structure that humans have that allows us to make the complex vocalizations that we can make.
     
  5. Oct 10, 2005 #4

    wolram

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    Given we now have the mechanical means to make complex sounds, how did
    man choose which sound should have which meaninig ? and how did the,"new
    vibe" spread, so as every one new what it meant ?
     
  6. Oct 10, 2005 #5

    wolram

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    Do you think a mixture of signs and sounds were the rudiments ? from what
    i know population were small and hunter gatherer, so how is that each family
    did not have an independant language ? it must have taken ages for say the
    population of england to agree on what sound meant what.
     
  7. Oct 10, 2005 #6

    loseyourname

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    Beats me. You're asking a historical question about pre-history. I can guess, but the guess won't be terribly educated, as I'm not a linguist. Actually, you might want to take a look at the private languages that develop between twins, or similar phenomena. I would imagine that the way in which language first developed is not that far removed.
     
  8. Oct 10, 2005 #7

    wolram

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    I read some thing about this ages ago, they make up a," perfectly normal",
    language between them selves, but i think laguage all ready exists and they
    some how modify it in a unique way.
    can you imagine going to a bar and pointing to the beer you want, but the
    barkeep is so alien and pointing means some thing totaly different, without
    being able to grab it how could you convey what you want ?
     
  9. Oct 11, 2005 #8
    I think this would happen the same way anything else is decided in a community. First off, some members are always going to be more word oriented than others and will automaticaly name any new thing or concept by "feel" as it were. Other, less creative types, will simply adopt the term since it's been presented and is handy. In other cases, there will be disputes over two or more terms. All the terms may survive the dispute and be used alternatively, or some dictatorial person may be able to promote one and squelch the others.
     
  10. Oct 11, 2005 #9

    wolram

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    If you took just for example, england and started with a population capable
    of speach but with as yet no language, how long do you think it would be
    before Fred from the east coast could converse with Barney, from the west
    coast ?
     
  11. Oct 11, 2005 #10

    wolram

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    Amoung others this paper explains an experiment where robots attempt to
    form a common sound, robot A emits a signal, robot B attempts to replicate
    the signal, if after several attempts robot B replicates the signal, " to within
    acceptable limits", robot A marks up a hit, if however robot B fails to replicate
    the signal robot A starts again with a new sigal.

    http://arti.vub.ac.be/steels/coe.pdf

    The paper is highly cited, and explains other language experiments.
     
  12. Oct 11, 2005 #11

    Evo

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    I can't read it right now, but do they take it past replicating a sound?

    The robots can't point and gesture to enable the other to connect the sound with an object or movement, etc... Also facial expressions, is the sound loud or soft, angry or happy. All of these things would have played a part in our ancestor's development of a common language.
     
  13. Oct 11, 2005 #12
    I doubt if there was ever a time people were capable of speech without having it. Find the first homo sapiens sapiens and you will have found the origin of language as we know it.
     
  14. Oct 11, 2005 #13

    wolram

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    They had no way of expression, the experiment was purly to find out if the
    robots could, "learn", sounds and repeat them.
    I will post a few clips for you busy people :smile:
     
  15. Oct 11, 2005 #14

    wolram

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    gestures and formant shapes evolves through cultural transmission and adaptation.
    Distinctive features then become emergent properties seen in retrospect by
    a descriptive linguist. The adaptation is driven by two types of selectionist criteria:
    perceptual constraints such as the limitations of the human ear, maximisation
    of distinctiveness and symmetrical balance, and articulatory constraints such as
    expressability, repeatability and energy minimisation. Several researchers have
    shown theoretically that these criteria are sufficient to constrain the kind of sound
    systems that occur in human languages [40], [7], [6], [17], et.al.
    However these demonstrations do not yet show whether sound systems can be
    originated and acquired by local interaction between agents. This is where agent based
    modeling and simulation comes in. A simulation experiment by de Boer and
    Steels [15] has successfully demonstrated the self-organisation of a sound system
    through adaptive imitation games. The experiment has the following structure:
    1. Agent population: There is a population of agents and an in- and outflux of
    agents which is independent of their linguistic performance.
    2. Innate structure: There is no innate phonetic knowledge. The agents have
    a synthetic articulator modeled after the human vocal tract and a perceptual
    apparatus that decomposes real-time signals into formants.
    3. Linguistic interaction: One agent (the initiator) produces a sound or sound
    sequence from its repertoire, which is initially empty. The other agent (the
    replicator) attempts to imitate the sound, which implies that he is able to
    recognise the sounds produced by the initiator and instantiate a gestural
    score that corresponds to the sounds. The initiator in turns interprets the
    sound produced by the imitator and gives a positive feedback when the imitation is deemed to be close enough.
     
  16. Oct 11, 2005 #15

    wolram

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    Are you suggesting a sort of," inbuilt", language, sort of pre programed to
    become effective when man had evolved to a certain stage?
    researchers have as yet not found speech in, "genetics", AFAIK
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2005
  17. Oct 11, 2005 #16
    Are you saying that speech is "ungenetic"? Unnsupported by our genes? How did we manage that, then?
     
  18. Oct 11, 2005 #17

    selfAdjoint

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    Chomsky's generative grammar, presumably evolved in our brains, suggests how we might have it both ways, as we must (all normal human toddlers learn language, but the language each learns is a social construct).
     
  19. Oct 11, 2005 #18
    There is a section of the brain that is dedicated to language learning. We've obviously evolved to accomodate language, social construction or natural phenomena.
     
  20. Oct 12, 2005 #19

    wolram

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    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=8906789&dopt=Citation
    VA Northern California Health Care System, Martinez, California 94553, USA. dronkers@garnet.berkeley.edu

    Human speech requires complex planning and coordination of mouth and tongue movements. Certain types of brain injury can lead to a condition known as apraxia of speech, in which patients are impaired in their ability to coordinate speech movements but their ability to perceive speech sounds, including their own errors, is unaffected. The brain regions involved in coordinating speech, however, remain largely unknown. In this study, brain lesions of 25 stroke patients with a disorder in the motor planning of articulatory movements were compared with lesions of 19 patients without such deficits. A robust double dissociation was found between these two groups. All patients with articulatory planning deficits had lesions that included a discrete region of the left precentral gyrus of the insula, a cortical area beneath the frontal and temporal lobes. This area was completely spared in all patients without these articulation deficits. Thus this area seems to be specialized for the motor planning of speech.

    I have read that people with brain damage that effects their speech, can learn to use other
    parts of the brain
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2005
  21. Oct 12, 2005 #20

    wolram

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    Not me Zooby, the people who seem to be the experts, i was amazed to find
    out that our abillity to speek is so little understood.
     
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