Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 20:29 (324 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: You have not answered the point that H. sapiens arrived with all the required anatomical changes in place needed to produce human sounds for modern complex language which appears to have started 50,000+ years ago, 250.000 years after the first sapiens arrived. That is Mc Crone's view. Just when did your cell committees do their job?

dhw: Please tell me how McCrone knows when H. sapiens started to make the sounds needed for modern language. Did he happen to be around with his tape recorder?

DAVID: If you read his book you would be surprised how cogent his arguments are.

dhw: You have read it, so please tell us how he knows when H. sapiens started to make the sounds needed for modern language.

No one knows. But it is apparent sapiens arrived with full complex language ability 300,000+ years ago and eventually learned how to use it.

DAVID: What McCrone strictly presents are major anatomic and neurosensory brain control changes first and then capacity for modern language exists, defined as developing 50,000 year ago. […] You want cell committees to foresee the future: arch the palate, drop the larynx, invent an epiglottis, reroute the laryngeal nerve, alter lip and tongue muscles and tie it all into specific areas of an enlarged brain. A pipe dream.

dhw: I am not querying the point that these changes took place before modern language was possible. I am challenging your interpretation of how, why and when they took place. Your hypothesis has always been that your God either preprogrammed the changes or personally performed operations on existing palates, larynxes etc. Does McCrone agree? Or does he opt for random mutations? Or does he consider my proposal, which is that pre-sapiens felt the need for enhanced communication, i.e. new sounds, and the effort to produce new sounds resulted in the changes which produced the arched palate and the dropped larynx – just as the effort to swim changed pre-whale legs into flippers, and just as the illiterate women’s efforts to read changed the relevant parts of their brains. We know that brain and body make changes in response to new demands, and I keep repeating that I do NOT want cell communities to foresee the future. It is you who demand fortune-telling in the shape of your God’s plans and/or direct surgery. My proposal, once again, is that the cell communities RESPOND to needs, not that they anticipate them. What is McCrone’s proposal?

McCrone does not discuss the genetic possibilities we discuss. He simply describes the anatomic changes that homo fossils tell us.

DAVID: Mc Crone recognized H. erectus might have spoken, estimating 'five or six words in five seconds". (pg. 161) 'Modern man can speak at the rate of two hundred or more words per minute."

dhw: He is welcome to his guesses, but in any case this proves nothing. Every generation builds on the progress of its predecessors. Once the anatomy was in place, of course the range of sounds, words, structures expanded. Language continues to evolve all the time. That doesn’t mean it began with a divine programme or specialist surgery to create arched palates and dropped larynxes!

The dropped larynx allows for our ability to speak as we do. Chimps have a simple epiglottis and an oral pharyngeal anatomy that allows for breathing and swallowing at the same time. Human infants are born with the same arrangement, and as they develop, the larynx drops and the epiglottis develops fully. This article explains:

I interpret it as pre-planning. You don't. That is a gulf which will never shrink.

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