Evolution of Language (General)

by David Turell @, Friday, October 25, 2019, 23:13 (338 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: I'm sure they used onomatopoeia mimicking sounds, like our word bark.

dhw: Well, good for you, being so sure. Even animal languages are made up of sounds that carry meaning, but their range depends on the apparatus at their disposal. If early sapiens had the apparatus, why do you assume they were unable to make sounds that conveyed meanings other than woof woof? Do you honestly believe they were incapable of using sounds to organize themselves for all their activities, pass information to one another, make comments, communicate generally?

The expert linguists think it took lots of time to develop rules of grammar. I'm sure they used sound-alike 'words' and gestures and slowly dev eloped, never all at once, which is impossible.


dhw: Why assume that the potential was not already in use 200,000 years ago?

DAVID: Precisely, but it took time to learn to use it.

dhw: Yes, evolution takes time, but that does not mean there was no progress for 100,000 years. We have no way of knowing!

DAVID: Probably minor progress.

dhw:Progress is progress. I find it absurd to state that the apparatus must have lain “fallow” (see below) for 100,000 years when there is not one iota of evidence to call on.

QUOTE: "The archaeological indications are that this new potential lay fallow for upwards of 100,000 years, until it was activated by a cultural stimulus of some kind.

It progressed as above.


dhw: I wish they would be more specific about the “archaeological indications” (perhaps they are - I don't have time to read the whole article) but whatever these are, why should we not assume that they themselves were a “cultural stimulus” resulting from new ideas. It is new ideas that demand new language, not the other way around.

DAVID: In paragraph two:
"As a result, the use of language and of any of its putative precursors has to be inferred from indirect proxy evidence furnished principally by archaeology."

DAVID: I infer tool design and other findings.

dhw: Tool design preceded sapiens by thousands and thousands of years! I’d like to know what the “other findings” were, but in any case, they will prove nothing. I don’t for one minute imagine that Mr Ug said to his neighbour: “I say, old chap, that’s a damn fine axe you’ve just made”, but I have no doubt he would have had a special sound for “axe”, just as we probably have at least 5000 special sounds, depending on what language we speak. And I have no doubt that language evolves in accordance with an ever increasing range of things to be expressed. We have no way of knowing what the range was 200,000, 175,000,150,000, or 100,000 years ago, and this "major difficulty" is not resolved by "inferences from indirect proxy evidence".

But that is what the linguists write! They may have used sound-alike, like mimicking the sound of an ax striking. Our word 'chop' sounds like that.


DAVID: But it is humans using their new brain that evolved language, not evolution itself.

dhw: Evolution is a description of the process. It doesn’t have a mind of its own! As a believer in common descent, I would argue that all evolution is the result of new uses of existing organs, as in pre-whales’ new use of their legs to evolve flippers. I propose that the newly complexified brain (it was not a new brain) evolved because of new demands, and so did language.

For H. sapiens it was a large just in size of 200 cc as well as all teh new complexity.


DAVID: Needs do not automatically design answers. That is your leftover from Darwin.

dhw: Of course needs don’t design anything! I propose that it is the organism which designs its response to a need! And to anticipate your usual objection, it may have been your God who gave organisms the autonomous ability to design their own responses.

Your usual neutral answer since you are not willing to explain design.


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