Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The origins of Language

So when did language begin? At the very beginnings of the genus Homo, perhaps 4 or 5 million years ago? Or with the advent of modern man, Cro-magnon, some 125,000 years ago? Did the neanderthal speak? He had a brain that was larger than ours, but his voice box seems to be higher in his throat, like that of the apes. We don’t know.

There are many not well known theories about the origins of language and many more that could be created, either here or on other information support media. Please feel free to contribute with anything you can think of and try not to repress yourself at all. Here are some samples taken from other people's ideas.

1. The mama theory. Language began with the easiest syllables attached to the most significant objects.

2. The ta-ta theory. Sir Richard Paget, believed that body movement preceded language. Language began as an unconscious vocal imitation of these movements -- like the way a child’s mouth will move when they use scissors, or my tongue sticks out when I try to play the guitar. This evolved into the popular idea that language may have derived from gestures.

3. The bow-wow theory. Language began as imitations of natural sounds -- moo, choo-choo, crash, clang, buzz, bang, meow... This is more technically refered to as onomatopoeia or echoism.

4. The pooh-pooh theory. Language began with interjections, instinctive emotive cries such as oh! for surprise and ouch! for pain.

5. The ding-dong theory. Some people, have pointed out that there is a rather mysterious correspondence between sounds and meanings. Small, sharp, high things tend to have words with high front vowels in many languages, while big, round, low things tend to have round back vowels! Compare itsy bitsy teeny weeny with moon, for example. This is often referred to as sound symbolism.

6. The yo-he-ho theory. Language began as rhythmic chants, perhaps ultimately from the grunts of heavy work (heave-ho!). The linguist A. S. Diamond suggests that these were perhaps calls for assistance or cooperation accompanied by appropriate gestures. This may relate yo-he-ho to the ding-dong theory, as in such words as cut, break, crush, strike...

7. The sing-song theory. Jesperson suggested that language comes out of play, laughter, cooing, courtship, emotional mutterings and the like. He even suggests that, contrary to other theories, perhaps some of our first words were actually long and musical, rather than the short grunts many assume we started with.

8. The hey you! theory. suggested that we have always needed interpersonal contact, and that language began as sounds to signal both identity (here I am!) and belonging (I’m with you!). We may also cry out in fear, anger, or hurt (help me!). This is more commonly called the contact theory.

9. The hocus pocus theory. Language may have had some roots in a sort of magical or religious aspect of our ancestors' lives. Perhaps we began by calling out to game animals with magical sounds, which became their names.

10. The eureka! theory. And finally, perhaps language was consciously invented. Perhaps some ancestor had the idea of assigning arbitrary sounds to mean certain things. Clearly, once the idea was had, it would catch on like wild-fire!

11. The pop theory. Gould thinks that language just popped into existence just all at once.

12. The never-ending storage theory The brain is capable to save an amazing amount of information, much more than what we have ever imagined, therefore the main task for the brain is to build proper filters to discard the non-relevant huge amounts of information, and keep only the relevant one.


Paul said...

#3 and #4 and #7, a combination of those is how I imagine it. Grunt, ouch, haha, come here you, where is that antelope gone, I am hungry, grunt ouch ohhhh yummy, then add birdsong,

Mariana Soffer said...

Jua!!! You made me laugh, great comment Paul. Thanks for being funny, and serious at the same time.

timmy said...

language as ownership (or copyright) - an animal without language, like a lion or tiger or alpha chimp, can control or dominate what he can see or immediately sense - as he "surveys his domain" - but with language, humans can "lay claim to"
anything anywhere - some words they wrote down fifty years ago, a car left in an airport parking lot five thousand miles away, children away at school, a sandwich in the office refrigerator, etc.
maybe a neanderthal or australopith, as he was falling asleep, had the thought "if i am asleep, how do i know bobo won't be getting into my stuff? what can i do to prevent this?" so he got up in the morning and invented language.

Mariana Soffer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harlequin said...

these are marvellous... complexity in a phrase that captures and conveys... I am partial to the gestural beginnings... but I had an amazing professor who also referred to the need to story as the beginning of gesture...and the need to remember and commemorate as the beginning of consciousness ( my professor was a big fan of Julian Jaynes and the whole bicameral brain thing...)
this is a fun post...thanks... said...

Here are two previously said definitions that I find pretty interesting.
1.John Milton wrote that language is “the instrument conveying to us things useful to be known.”

2.Johnson Called language the dress of thought

Mariana Soffer said...

Very intresting ideas you added to the blog, thank you very much.
You know they reminded me of one I used lo love (cause I would picture in my head a monkey with a dress, related to the story of the monkey dressed in silk). It says: Language is the dress of thought.

Mariana Soffer said...

Timmy:Yes, humans they even pretend they can control things by naming them.
Yes, they where very worried about bobo.
Perfectly reasonable origin of language, I wonder how come nobody ever thought of it.
Thank you very much Timmy

Mariana Soffer said...

First of all thank you very much.

Your professor seems to be fascinating, I kind of agree with him, it is the beginning,
if you do not have it, you do not have the other. This idea completely contradicts the classical evolution one involving
cause and effect. Even for the sake of showing that that is not the only one is great.

I am happy you enjoyed the post, see you very soon (my awful English will be waiting for you)

JanetK said...

How about an 'is like' theory? Think of language as a mass of metaphors built on each other and becoming more and more complex. A few simple ideas (innate probably) like want-goal-plan-action-movement-result as a chain can give rise to millions of layers of metaphoric meanings that can be communicated by referencing a metaphor. What is needed is (1) the need to communicate or advantage gained by communication (2) a mode in which to communicate of which we have at least two, voice and gesture (3) the ability to form and understand metaphors (4) a small set of innate concepts on which to build metaphors.

Stu said...

I love the way you've titled the various theories!

This is a topic I'm very much interested in. In fact I've been reading about it lately.

Personally I wouldn't settle on any one of the possibilities you mention as the 'origin'. I believe that what we've come to call 'language' is a patchwork of 'systems'/behaviours/sounds/gestures which may once have been quite disparate in form and function (e.g. warning, affection, fighting, commemorating, etc). A series of 'language games' (Cf. Wittgenstein). And I think your post points to that too.

paulandrewrussell said...

I know absolutely nothing about the development of language, but I suspect it came about as a combination of all of the theories you have listed; especially the 'hey you!' theory and the 'eureka' theory.

This one made my brain ache. :-)

the walking man said...

Language began when the first stick beat against a log and the hearers of it found some form of communication in the sound.

Don físico said...

All theories seems to be suitable, but because of the diversity of things our brain is able to process and of the variety of things our mind is interested, I think that a combination of all theories might the closest thing to the truth.
I bet you´ve read the book titled "The Broca´s brain" by Carl Sagan. In case contrary, I recomend it.

Shubhajit said...

A great learning experience!

Though I like the sing song theory but I believe it is the combination of all these theories made a language.

And language is eternal. It never stops anywhere.

I believe in never-ending storage theory also. "The external nature is the internal nature writ large". If we know the whole of our mind, we will know the universe. The universe is within us.

Ariel_from_Plainsboro said...

Dear Mariana: great blog, brain-teaser posts.
You are refering to spoken language as language, right? I think in otherwise communcation when signals are exchanged among creatures, from simple organisms and cells that use a myriad of chemical "words" to inform about situations and conditions, to sophisticate songs by which wales communicate with distant partners around the globe.
If language is defined by the use of word-like symbols, there we have something that is not a definition of "human" per se, as Descartes would have suggested, since many our primate cousins like bonobos are able to communicate actions and emotions though it. Many primates have the capacity of creating symbolic, abstract concepts that can be properly defined as language (I remember a scene from a documentary in which a chimpanzee, annoyed by his trainer, used a combination of Ameslan symbols to call him "green road-shitter" :-)
The origin of words by human ancestors, according to some anthopologists, was an event that arised after protohumans became bipeds and, with that, developed the use of tools. Parallel processes like the development of prefrontal brain are thought to be the crucial events in the creation of organized language. Once the ancestors of modern humans organized communities, language became an essential element for survival.
Many of the theories you describe here fit fairly well with several of the evolutive changes in species.
However, I choose to believe in the theory enunciated by my beloved Laurie Anderson, by the way of William Burroughs, in which "Language is a virus from outer space" :-)
So long and take care.

Id it is said...

Loved those theories! The most obvious one, that language is the outcome of natural (Darwinian)selection, pales in comparison:)

Thanks for dropping by.

Uncle Tree said...

The FIRE!!! theory seems to be what I remember hearing first, a long, long time ago. And the first man who learned how to control fire was called GOD. I figure DAMN was probably third in line. Followed by the F-word, after seeing that everything had been burnt into crispy critters and fried foods. Perhaps, YUMMY was next, followed by BARF.

Hey Mariana! This turned out to be quite fun. Hope I didn't spoil it for you.

jinjir minjir said...

There are too many serious comments. I HAVE to repress myself, otherwise i'll be the only commentator left in your blog.


By the way, how did we get from "ouch", to "aia!", to "¡joder!"?

By extrapolation, why do different cultures have different exclamations (i.e. basic expressions of pain, surprise, etc)? Is it perception? Is it simply a different start, hence the different million languages?

Also, I like the post-colonialist approach of 7: we started with something so rich that we can't comprehend nowadays, but eventually we got poorer. Only to get richer again. Which points to the future, which will be english-dominated, so, once again, poorer.

I love extrapolations.

I told you, I HAVE to repress myself...

Mariana Soffer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mariana Soffer said...

Stu: Glad you liked the title
See you got intrested in linguistics, there are great resources to read from out there.
You are so right stu, so so right it makes me happy, its a a very mixed mix.
I am going to read about this guy who writes about languages games.
Always makes me smile when you step by.

Mariana Soffer said...

the walking man:The walking man: That is a lovely idea, very creative, we had to add it to the list. A crazy way to invent something.
We had to add where the written language comes from now.
I would do a movie that starts like that.

Mariana Soffer said...

Don fisico: (Which means mr physic.) Also love you suggestion, take a look at what janetk say and what I replied to her. And of course I read the book about broca's area, I read it 16 years ago, so my memories are pretty blurry abut it, I probably have to re-read it Thanks a lot mr for stepping by, and helping with your thoughts.

Mariana Soffer said...

I am glad you learned from this crazy explanation attempts.
I am going to tell you the same I told don fisico: take a look at what janetk say and what I replied to her.
But you are on one of my faviourite tracks.
I can see why you like the sing song theory, one is cause it is cheerfull and the other more scientific one is because
music language is highly correlated in structure to human languages, actually they just recently discovered the grammar
of birds singing.
I am amazed about what you said about the never ending brain, that is my new idea (crazy one), and you explain it in a very coherent and beautifull way.

Mariana Soffer said...

id it is:
Thank you very much for your compliment. I am glad you liked those ideas, you are welcome always to leave a comment in this website, even dough is as short as a single letter.

Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle:Maybe due to the invention of the word less people than the expected where burn't therefore the fourth word might have been indeed three words "not that bad", at least it is nicer to think it this way.

You did not spoiled it at all, you always enrich my posts. Indeed lets review your proposal:
Fire, GOD, DAMN, Fuck, Yummy, Barf, intresting order selection, seems pretty electic.
And you left me thinking what happend with GOD, when did it appear, did it appear?

Thanks for the story my favourite uncle, is a pretty good theory about how language emerged.

Mariana Soffer said...

Jinjir minjir:Juap, feel free to be non-serious(besides your name already says it all), I like that indeed, I like dadaist stuff and nonsense stuff. I don't think everybody will run away due to a wierd comment.

I think there where some people who had imparments in pronunciation, that is why they god to Joder, I think their frontal teeth where to long.

To tell you the true I do not have a clue, but I can research.

I seriously liked you idea that we started with a very complex or rich approach and that then it got poor, and then agan rich. It is very original and thought provoking.

How do you know english is poor? I know it has considerably less words than spanish, but it makes it easier for people of different cultures learning it.

Thanks for stepping By

jinjir minjir said...

Whoa!!! Whoa x 10!!! Hold on a second....

1) Dada, nonsensical??? Then, I must be a relative of his, otherwise I must be mad...

2) Long teeth and Spanish swearings: it's not often I laugh that hard past midnight (GMT+1) Heck, it's not often I'm waiting so avidly for a reply to a comment of mine :)))

3) Please do not research for my sake. Unless, of course, you get paid (or published) for it.

4) The idea is not novel: it is based on Atlantis (we greeks have a vast heritage that drives our creativity/imagination/bullshitting abilitiy-ies).

5) English is poor according to everyone else: Spaniards, Latinos (to be honest [and serious, for a change], I do think L.Am. Spanish is faaaaaar richer than Castillian Spanish), Greeks, Uzbekis, Israelis, Arabs, Thais, Japanese.... You name it, it's there.

6) I don't stop by - I hang out here ;)

Thanks for giving me reasons to interact.

Un beso y un abrazo muy muy fuerte.

Anonymous said...

Language was created by telepaths so they could communicate higher thought to less evolved human beings. Soon, texting will eliminate the need for language and we will all be communicating in acronyms. Five steps up from a grunt and ten steps down from pure thought. ;) And on that note WTF...LOL...OMG...ugh.

Mariana Soffer said...

1)Yes , I think you are, actually I did not realize before but It shows in the features of your face. But you are also mad
one thing does not inhibit the other.

2)Yes, the occipital lobes combined with the cannines length and some flamenco dancing is how the problem originated.

3)No research then, lazy. Time zone here is (PMT+54).

4)Did not have a clue that the idea existed, and was created from the mentioned bullshitter culture.

5) IT's true that english is simpler but my point is that I think it might be what makes it better, and in a way richer
cause it is accessibly by tons of different cultures.

6) As lon as you don't hang from my linen courtains (they strech easily), you are welcome.

7)I am having a blast here.

Un besote hombre, imagino que hombre, no se porque.

Mariana Soffer said...

Val:In a sense it is wierd that it was invented by the people that did not needed it, but then
language putted like that becomes the language that the plebe speaks, (which makes us the plebe)
acronyms oh my god that is such a thing, specially in my field.
I am just a beginner on that language, I think I understand the sense of what you are saying, but it is hard to reply for me, just can say. Frutuflu FR YOU. Now seriously acronyms are taking over the words and I hate them cause I always get confused about which is which.
GReat comment val, I enjoyed it a lot, pretty good theory also, I think I am goingto compile the ones you writters added, cause they are great. Take care

girlontape said...

are you coming on friday marian? let's get hooked up to the surrealist machine :)

girlontape said...

are you coming on friday marian? let's get hooked up to the surrealist machine :)

TC said...


Wonderful post, great comments, brilliant fun while (oh no!) actually learning something.

Gracias, maestro.

About the origins of language I am eternally stumped but that does not mean I would refrain from proposing my own theory of the

Origin of the Speechless

timmy said...

the ice age/sabretoothed tiger theory: with the coming of an ice age, bands of hominids were forced into closer contact with each other and with predators like sabretoothed tigers. in daylight, the members of each band could simply recognize each other without visual or verbal symbols. but at night they would hear cries of distress from a hominid in the clutches of a predator and rush from their shelter to find it was only a non-member of the tribe. very annoying, especially to the alpha who valued his rest. so the alpha or his enforcer invented language so that the unfortunate in the tiger's mouth could cry: help i am a member of the A tribe! this was an improvement but still not good enough, as it did not identify the particular member. who wanted to get up to rescue some slacker or greybeard who couldn't hunt and could barely forage? names were invented, so the victim, could cry: help i am momo of the A tribe who dug two pounds of roots yesterday!

seriously, i love the way you get discussions going here

TC said...

...yet then again, as I see that Stu (above) has summoned up the nerve to drop the name of that ultimate party-killer Wittgenstein, I am encouraged to tread in his footsteps down this same dangerous trail of wonderment about what words are and whether they have any use at all beyond bewildering us:

The identity sign
held Wittgenstein
is a lie

wanted identity
from a genuine
by allowing
a multiplicity
of signs to show
a multiplicity
of objects

A different sign
for each different

The planet Venus
can be thought of
in different ways
and that is why
it can have two
different "names"

But "Hesperus"
and "Phosphorus"
are not names

Genuine names
name things
that can only be tagged

The name
labels the object
but does not describe
...which led in turn to the fragmentation of the primate brain into bits of prelinguistic particulate matter, a mere dust, or

Something in the Air

Mariana Soffer said...

Girlontape, my friend, I think I wrote on your blog but just in case I will love to and do my best, but I might finish work at 9 pm, what about later? I am going to the states in a couple of weeks and need to finish my presentation, that's the problem.
Big hugh

Mariana Soffer said...

That is one of my ideas about language, one metaphor on top of another growing in complexity and abstraction level. But on the other side I find Pinker's idea of metaphors connecting us with our roots, and as a way of addressing basic and primitive things, very interesting.

1. Maybe, But maybe it is just a primitive impulse from the baby to communicate with the mother.
2. Yes, but probably also derived from movement.
3. Mostly I see them as analogies, but probably metaphors are also included.
4. Probably they are.

I think 1,2,3 and 4 are needed for that idea of language, I agree with you there.

I really appreciate that you took the time on participating on my blog, I really admire what you do, and write about.

Mariana Soffer said...

You do not need to know anything, indeed is probably worst having preconceived theories thought to you by someone else. Sorry that I just wrote your reply, but I got confused with the order and lost myself, this blogspot should have a reply to someone feature.
The thing is that if you check forward on the "don fisico"
comment (a guy who studied physics seriously and has a very interesting career) and then what I reply to him, you can see you are ,at least for me, being carried away by the wisdom and intuition track.

Mariana Soffer said...

Jinjir: Hope you see my reply cause I did not put your name in it, it first comes yours, then valbrusell's, and then your reply

Stu said...

That's it, I'm going to start a band called "Wittgenstein the Party-killer".

Mariana Soffer said...

TC (first post): Thank you very much for the compliments, I am really glad you enjoyed this post and my fabulous friends which contribute with their wisdom, knowledge and by making us laugh.
Your post about speechless is great, fantastic. By the way my favorite monkeys are the cappuccino ones. are those by any chance the ones you have in your blog?

Mariana Soffer said...

Timmy: Fantastic story and explanation. I will suggest the editors of "The jungle book", to include your language explanation in the book as a second preface. By doing this kids will understand
how is it that spoken language emerged before they start with the original story that includes speech.

I am really glad you like how I lead the comments, although this time I made many mistakes, such us forgetting to reply some comments, to address the replies of the comments to the authors, and probably others.

Mariana Soffer said...

TC(part II): The dangerous and unavoidable subject of words.

A great post and a great poem where written by you, one in your blog and one in my post. Those two have in themselves wisdom and beauty, I am pleased to share them with my blog reading friends.
The idea is the following:
The grammar we learn from our parents, whether we realize it or not, affects our sensual experience of the world.
Spaniards and Germans can see the same things, wear the same cloths, eat the same foods and use the same machines.
But deep down, they are having very different feelings about the world about them.

Truth is spoken in silence.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thank you very much and my deep apologies for not answering before, I got visually confused.
You are right about your first question and its answer, actually you made me think about all the communication ways that exists and what they exist for.
Monkeys are able to learn sign language, they can learn up to a thousand words, there is a great story by
an adopted monkey called nim chimpsky (after the two famous linguists), that you can search on the web, this monkey was raised as if it where a human being, except for the language that was signaled and not talked.
I am deeply moved by the theory you chosen, those to persons are among the people I respect and learned from the most. The theory would be called I guess: "Language is a virus from outer space"

Anonymous said...

Thank you for commenting on my babies, because it has led me here to this place, your place and reading your words; my brain has been fed *dance* So interesting, you.

TC said...


You're on. I can see it now. Our first number, a down-tempo arrangement of the passage from "The Blue Book" beginning, "Imagine we had to rearrange the books of a library..." That should have them rushing for the fire exits, à la "Carrie".


Your reference to the Nim Chimpsky story reminds me to ask, are you familiar with Jane Goodall's theory of the origin of language, developed over her long years of behavioural studies, and expressed, with a note of considerable sadness, toward the end of "The Chimpanzees of Gombe" (1986)?

Jane is talking about the evolution of armed conflict between hostile groups. The ultimate organizing tool in setting up the night ambushes, raids, etc., she concludes, was language. Such proto-linguistic organization, writes Jane,

"is the major difference between primitive warfare and the stealthy, productive raids of the Kasakela males into Kahela territory, which sometimes culminated in brutal assault. While fully admitting the major role that warfare has probably played in shaping our uniquely human brain, I submit that until our remote ancestors acquired *language*, they would not have been able to engage in the kind of planned intergroup conflicts that could develop into warfare--into organized, armed conflict."

I go back and forth as to whether we are wiser than our primate ancestors. At one point in this inner dialogue I thought I had realized the truth: that I agreed with this magnificent silverback that

Talk Gets Old

TC said...

...because I had by then come to the conclusion it was only a false idea of identity that made naming possible:

Melancholy Watch

... having already wasted weeks over the problem that if a lion could speak, we could not understand him, as was learned from a

White Monkey

Mariana Soffer said...

Saraha: thank you very much, It makes me happy that you enjoyed my blog place. I can infer due to what you say that my blog made your brain work, which pleases me a lot, but I never heard the "fed dance" expression before.
By the way I found your blog extremely interesting, I just need a little more time to enjoy it fully.

Mariana Soffer said...

TC:I love jane goddall, she is amazing, she has such strength. Very interesting what you tell me about her theory of language origin, I did not knew it. Thanks a lot for commenting about it here.

And the poem, please let me quote it, cause it is unbelievably good.
"We have to do the best we can
That is our sacred human responsibility
Said Einstein to the gorilla
Who yawned and smiled patiently once again"

Regarding whether we are wiser or not I can tell you that more complex systems tend to fail more often than less complex ones, which does not imply having more or less wisdom.
I think we have to define wisdom carefully first to be able to answer the question. My hunch is that we are equal.

Mariana Soffer said...

First part:
Identity is a big issue, Casually I am studying about entities and adjectives in natural language,
and in my opinion the best way to deal with the already proved language ambiguity for referring to things is to use fuzzy logic operators to manipulate and handle terms. This may imply that things are fuzzy by default (they are never exactly one thing or another)

Second one:
Have you read the book "Godel Escher and Bach an eternal and golden braid"? Your second post reminded me of it, first due to the Zeno paradox, second because you mention and mix music in the hole idea, third because in the books there are some characters that are animals belonging to different species.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love languages. Someone once told me that if you look carefully at all languages, they have roots in each other. I think language developed so we can know one another. All creatures have languages, even the birds.

PS I think you would really like PK, you do remind me of him, A LOT.

Mariana Soffer said...

I guess most of the people that like words, either poets, writers or journalists, love languages.
Languages do have roots, there are great graphs where you can see how the original language branches into
several ones and form a picture similar to the one of a tree. For example Spanish and french are among the descendants of latin.
I like your idea about why was language developed, I will compile it in my response collection.
I am not sure that all creatures have languages, one thing is communicating (which all creatures do) an another more complex and rare one is to use a language.
Thank you very much for sharing your hopeful and lovely thoughts.
PS:Do you have PK urls, or blog address? I am interested in him cause I saw his comments at harmonie's and liked them

Anibal said...

In the year in which we commemorate Darwin´s bicentennary is good to look at Darwin and his views on langauge evolution that are as valid now as they were in his time.

Perhaps we could say that his views on the evolution of language set the scholastic agenda and language studies since the 19th century onwards.

Here´s a take of Darwin´s views on language by a contemporary evolutionary biologist whose expertise is in languistic capabilities:

Mariana Soffer said...

Very nice idea to take darwins thoughts about language.
That makes me think about the theory from Dawkins about the evolutionary form of propagation memes have (see his book called the selfish gene from 1973)

Thank you very much for sharing that usefull information. I took a look at the webpage you recomended and it seemed to be an extremely intresting resource containing very detailed data.

Shadow said...

...i've often wondered. and i still wonder what that first language was. and who invented spelling???

Ariel_from_Plainsboro said...

Hey Mariana: thanks for your response, and no apologies needed, "visual confusion" is a concept with which I am very familiar.
I take the liberty of writing a a little comment to Don Fisico: Broca's brain, as well as Dragons of eden, are excellent books from the marvelous Carl Sagan in which he took on neuroscience from a foreign perspective. Not being a neurobiologist myself, I was totally taken by his challenging, and controversial, views on neurobiology and brain functions. However, not long ago I was taking with some friends who work in the neurobiology field about Sagan's view of the evolutive recapitulation of brain functions. Well, the discussion did not go so smoothly. My friends said that Sagan's concepts were misleading, and that they were ready to set those books on fire, with me sitting on those books, probably. We did agree that the spirit of Sagan's books is to induce critical thinking and discussion among lay people based on scientific observations. And that attitude was just priceless in a world invaded by intelectual laziness and pseudoscientific thinking.

Mariana Soffer said...

Shadow: Spelling was written by the most uptight person that ever existed in the face of the earth. Regarding the oldest language that exists there is not one, there are several according to the criteria you use to select it. But indeed there is not even known if there is a single language that is the common ancesstors of all existing languages.

Anonymous said...

bgaen wehn i
ievtnned it jsut now

¤ ¤ ¤


Mariana Soffer said...

Ariel: thanks for understanding and for sharing your knowledge with us. I think is great that you comment among yourselves and also advice each other.
Regarding what you say about Sagan, I remember reading him around 20 years ago for the first time, I remember liking one of his sci-fi books a lot, but his scientific ones either I didn't understood them or they did not convince me (Bear in mind I am not an expert in math neither in physics). But as you say his attitude was fantastic.

Mariana Soffer said...

t: I want you to know that I think you are an extraordinary artist, and that your comment is marvelous.

Ariel_from_Plainsboro said...

Mariana: Thank you for providing us with a forum to channel our thoughts (from a scattered brain in my case). One more word about Sagan: he was one of the strongest voices advocating not only science, but global peace, in a time and place in which obscurantism was, unfortunately, the dominating political force. On a personal note, through his books, Sagan helped inspire many in my generation who wanted to become scientists. I fully agree with you, though; some of his writings were out of reach for my poor math skills, too. His sci-fi novel Contact was fairly good, though.
Godspeed and take care,

Anonymous said...

Sorry I haven't answered you about PK because he left you a message back on my page.


Mariana Soffer said...

Ariel: It is my pleasure to be able to provide this weird kind of forum for scatter brained people and their scattered thoughts.
Indeed I feel thrilled that so many people are interested and that they do collaborate with very interesting material.
I completely understand what you say about Sagan, you do not want him to be depreciated in all the different areas he worked in, you want to show that he deserves to be appreciated, and a lot, for the good things he did in many of those areas.
I agree with what you say regarding the clarification. Thanks a lot for your thoughts.

theperceptionpoint:Don't worry txs for getting us in touch we already exchanged emails and he seems to be a fantastic guy.

jereme said...

how does a baby bird learn to fly?

it doesn't over think it.

foam said...

these are all very interesting, funny even ..
sometimes what i've been more interested in, is where is language headed? it's conceivable that in a few hundred years english spoken in the usa vs english spoken in great britain will be different, for example ..
or will we still have different languages for example?
maybe we will all just talk in xhtml/css codes, eh?

TC said...

The least I can do in grateful response to this stimulating discussion at Mariana's Offer Is Offer two new posts which may (?) perhaps suggest that

If A Lion Could Talk

we might well find ourselves in


TC said...


I don't know, do they have algorhythm errors in


Mariana Soffer said...

Jeremy: thanks a lot for stepping by antryiing to contribute to our knowledge. I think that your analogy between birds learning to fly and babies learning to talk makes sense. Neither of them uses their cognitive habilities for the learning process (at least in their beginnings). Therefor the wawy they learn must be based either in immitating (probably their mothers) either in the natural instincts we where born with,
Besides how can we learn to speak by using speaking enabled skills? thats bootstrapping like.

Mariana Soffer said...

Foam: Glad you stepped by. I also things that the comments this post has are great.I even want to do some kind of art work based on them.
You know that is also one of my favourite liinguistic areas the evolution of languages.
How are languages going to be modified, anulated, divided branches, joined, which ones are going to become dominant, etc..
So far I think english wins due to several reasons< 1,Language granna is easy 2.They where the main econmic power 3. The most prolific inventors 4, The conquers of other cultures that are forced to learn their language,
Check this post, with contains this picture? showing in a graphic way how the different languages modified the relations between themselvs along the years;I can suggest you to take a look at the language blogs, and also to read again some of the comments that are related to the subject you want to know about.
Hope it helps you dude, and step by as often as you wwant to. If you need I have tons ofinformation about that issues that I can share with you,

Mariana Soffer said...

Extremelly stimulating your lion language post, this is my humble contribution to it:

Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things. (2, tr. Burton Watson 1968:49)

This hints at many questions in the philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and epistemology. The name of the passage has become a common Chinese idiom, and has spread into Western languages as well. It appears, inter alia, as an illustration in Jorge Luis Borges' famous essay "A New Refutation of Time", and may have inspired H. P. Lovecraft's 1918 short story "Polaris".

Mariana Soffer said...

TC: It is a hard question, I guess algorithms from paradise do not have errors, cause there is not such concept in paradise, The question is always twisting the answer.
Indded everything is perfect in paradise whether you like it or not, enjoy it or not, it as good as something can be.
I belive in the evolutionary theory therefore we probably where expelled from paradise so we will be expose to the real word where we can learn to defend ourself.
Very intresting poem tc, I still have doubts about it.

Anonymous said...

un kilo y dos pancitos lo tuyo.

Mariana Soffer said...

anony>Gracias anonymous ahora copate y decime quien sos.
This guy says something like on kilogram and two small pieces of breath, which is an expression/metaphore that means I am doing ok.

Uncle Tree said...

Congratulations are due on this hugely successful post, Mariana. I don't know how you do it. It seems like there must be at least 7 or 11 of you working to keep up with all the comments. I do hope it doesn't drive you crazy trying to find the time to reply to each and everyone. Perhaps you know how to 'make' time for your friends, for we speak of it that way also.

I've often wondered how someone would go about dealing with too many friends, whatever that number might be. Say you received 200 comments...where would you start and who would have to be skipped over? People who are famous rarely comment on their websites, and some never do. As much as I wish great things for you, I also slightly fear that we would all get lost in the crowd.

I know you have very important work ahead of you for the next few weeks, and I really, really hope it all goes swell when you show off your papers. Will you be able to sell a product from this adventure? Can someone buy your well thought out equations in the form of software? I'm just not sure what happens with your work after it is completed.

Will you have to let this blog stay idle while your away? That's what I expect you'll have to do to concentrate all your efforts on this big opportunity. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. Everyone will surely understand, if that is the case.

I'm so happy for you, just wanted you to know that. I highly value your friendship, although two peas of the same pod we are not. We are so different from each other, and it continues to amaze me that we get along at all. Stunning, I say, and maybe a few of your other readers feel this way also. I look forward to your every post, and if there's anything I can do to help (I doubt it) let me know. Okay?

Luvz and hugz, your humbled uncle sticky

the walking man said...

The written language began when that drummer took his stick, dropped it in the dirt and them who saw the impression left behind after it was again taken into his hand took it for a sign of his power.

Mariana Soffer said...

Walking man: Hi traveling fellow, I guess you are generously proposing another theory, that follows the line of the previous one you proposed, but this time you are refering to the written language instead.
I like both of your ideas a lot, and the two combined make perfect sense.
Thanks for another cool colaboration

Mariana Soffer said...

UNKLE:Thanks a lot uncle, to tell you the truth, I have been idle at work this week, therefore I had time to reply to people and think about what they say and about what I say, but sometimes, Oh, god I get freaking overwhelmed, because I feel bad if at least I do not say something to the people in return (and also try to understand what they want to say), I think people deserve to be treated at least as well as they treat you.

There are great scientist that personally reply every single mail or comment (usually if they say something reasonable), you can check at apperceptual blog or at this guy called lemir blog, they pay attention to the people who talk to them.

I guess the deal is to have a quick way of skimming trough the crappy texts and pay attention to the good ones, I guess you get quicker with practice. And to tell you the trouth I do not give a damn about fame, the celebrity kind of fame, indeed I kind of dislike it deeply.

Listen you and a few of the people I have known trough this blog will never ever be one more of the croud, I simply get attached to my friends and do care,

I do not think I will be able to sell anything, but It will contribute for my resume and my traveling arround the word for free. I do not have any comercial plans for the software at all, we'll see,

I have many plans after that work is done, I would like to do many other programs, investigations, and I am even checking on an ONG for doing some wierd stuff.

WE are definitely not to peas of the same pot, but you
are my first friend I made trough internet, and a real good one. Thank you a lot uncle Tree. I have in mind something you can help me with, but I will let you know in right time, any way, is not such a big deal.

Take care pal

TC said...


"I do not give a damn about fame, the celebrity kind of fame, indeed I kind of dislike it deeply."

Amen to that.

Your generosity is extraordinary. It's the NOT "capitalizing on it" that is the beautiful thing.

Blogs employed strictly for career pimping give themselves away immediately and are of interest only to fellow career opportunists seeking to be "situated".

~otto~ said...

I'm partial to the ding-dong theory for obvious reasons

RRN said...

this blog is amazing. i am in awe of its sheer intensity , let alone the mind expanding capability it seems to imeediately promote.

thank you~

Mariana Soffer said...

TC: thank you very much, you made me smile for the first time in the day.

otto: obvious? the name of the theory is the obvious part I see in it. I am confused about your response, cause you also say is partial your inclination. Maybe you are obviously kidding me.

Mariana Soffer said...

RNN: I am really please about what you said to me. Thank you very much!I ´ll have to take care not to let my egotistic ego take over my self.
By the way good choice, it's for sure that our minds can grow beyond limit's we can never imagine.
Thanks for you too

Anonymous said...

Mariana, if you ever get a chance you should read a book called Imagined Communities by a guy named Benedict Anderson. He basically traces the rise and fall of languages over the centuries and shows how languages were used to create nations and control people, first through language of religion, and how the economy of printing (what languages got put into print) is what helped some languages die out and others survive. Its pretty interesting.


Mariana Soffer said...

theperceptionpoint: Thank you very much for the suggestion, I have been checking out the reviews about that book in the web. There Is a part I certainly found interesting, the anthropological and linguistic one, but the political part is not my cup of tea (although I am getting slowly and gradually more interested in the subject with age cause everything relates to everything, and the more you know the better), but I would definitely read it if I had it with me. I noticed is mentioned in a movie I liked a lot called "waking life".
Bye Bye

Uncle Tree said...

You are a gem, Mariana!

I wish your father a happy day, and great happiness all around! I bet he's proud of you, since you've grown up to be such a mega-wonderful woman. Tell him "Hi!" for me, if you see him today. I bet he'd laugh if he knew you had an adopted Uncle such as the likes of Tree.

About the service...I stand on the ready, or knot. Just let me know when I could be so honored as to play the part of your helper, in whatever guise (guys) necessary. Hugz!

Paul said...

I'm voting for mother, ma, mum, mere as the first word. It is the first sound most humans make when they open their mouths, and there she is! Maaaa. And I taking this as evidence that god is a woman.

Mariana Soffer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle:Tbank you very much! He ll probably get the message near a shiny star. I tell you he ll be more than happy to know that I adopted an uncle that is a tree, cause he loved trees, we used to go an pick up their seeds together, so then he could plant them and make his bonsai.

Thank you very much for wanting to help, it is probably going to be in 2 weeks, when I fly to the states, it is related to blogging the task, I will tell you later on by email.

Take a look at this, that reminded me about your dads poem
Strong Handshake

Anonymous said...

ho mariana, i am not going to look at 89 comments but that is great you get popular. nice to see.

for me, it is all depands what language means, it can be any interaction between two, by hands or tounges, it can be a hit on the head, sometime langauge is silance.
is the connection of two sounds a sentance? or giving it order by garmmar and rules?

i am happy it is here, that i know, though i long for days of comlete silance.

Mariana Soffer said...

utopianfragments: Thank you utop, but remember that the comments are double in blogspot, cause you add one more for each response.

Indeed language is refered at the spoken and written communication that have grammar, syntaxs, semantics and more structures and rules that it complies. The other thing you mention is communication which is a more simple way to interact. For example plain communication does not have astractions or abstract concepts among the things they can relate with.
sILENCE can be a form of ommunication, and also as you mention part of the language and the grammat.

The connection of to sound do not necesarily form a sentence, they might or might not form one.
Glad you like it here, and I think I am longing for those days even more.
Bye pal

Don físico said...

Marianna: I´ve found the folowing article that relates with your post:

PD: I also wrote you an email about my watercolours works. Did you received it?

human being said...

i think so i am
i talk so i will be

and man was!
so he invented the language...

Mariana Soffer said...

Don fisico:
Thanks for your article regarding the language origin subject, I do not what is wrong but I can not open it, do you have the name of the article, the author, or other things to google it with? Cause I would really like to read it now.

I got you email, sorry just forgot, too much work at work and preparing for the congress in the states, I would love to have a bird painting of yours can you send me pictures of them So I can choose?
Anyway this exchange will be done probably after I came back from the states.
Take care and thank you my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

human being: You know there is currently being a huge debate about wether language is shaped by the world or we shape the world with language. Steven Pinker and Lera Boroditsky, are involved in the current linguistic theories, but there are also other influences such as chompsky's one still going on.

Patto said...

I think that its more like a combination of all the points.

(sorry for my english!)

Jessie Carty said...

wow! so many great comments, I can't get through them all!

i love the study of linguistics. i read this book called the power of babel, i believe, which discussed trying to find the origins of language and how and/or why there are so many different languages.

Great post!

Mariana Soffer said...

Patto: Your English is perfect, no problem with it at all (at least what I can tell cause mine is neither perfect at all), anyway nowadays you have the translators that are working pretty good, you might want to try those, of course the fail sometimes with weird language expressions or local kind of words.
Thanks for your opinion

Mariana Soffer said...

Jessie: Thank you, you know I think the same, I am impress about what people wrote in this post, there are really amazing thoughts, I am also impress that the count of comments is almost a hundred and the quality of them is very good also, they do not tend to happen together. But more than anything is thanks to the people that write them and read the others thoughts that tare interested in knowledge and thinking a lot.
Thank you Jessie

Anonymous said...

What an amazing topic! Reminds me of Stephen Hawking's artificial voice at the beginning of Pink Floyd's song "Keep Talking". It goes like this: "For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination: We learned to talk".

The origin of language is undoubtedly a great mystery, but maybe what amazes me most is how that original language changed into so many different tongues all round the planet. Astonishing, really.

Mariana Soffer said...

Lucy in the sky:
What a great memory came to life while reading you comment about hawkings voice starting the pink floyd song. I was so much into Floyds music in my teens.

Well first you have to think if there is only one place on earth where language was originated, or if they where more than one, if several different cultures invented their languages with no influence from any other culture that already communicated with one.

Then Languages, like genes, provide vital clues about human history. The origin of the Indo-European language
family is "the most intensively studied, yet still most recalcitrant, problem of historical linguistics".

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, linguistics was considered a thoroughly historical science, focusing on how languages such as English or Sanskrit changed through time. By uncovering rules governing phonological change, historical linguists reconstructed dead protolanguages such as Indo-European — an ancestral dialect spoken some 10,000 years ago that diverged into a wide variety of modern languages, including Hindi, Russian, Spanish, English and Gaelic.
The words of language are not inherited biologically but are passed on culturally thought learning. This process of cultural evolution generates a hierarchical tree of relations among languages
How and why it diverged it is still unknown, but theories are opened so you can propose your own.
Thank you Lucy a pleasure having you visiting my site

TC said...

Lucy, Mariana,

And are all the many tongues now turning back into uno, en el Calle de Recuerdo?

Mariana Soffer said...

Tc: Nice Spanish!
People: He is asking there are all the many tongues now turning back into one, in memory street?
Very poetic.
Well TC, I sadly think so, there are may languages that are being lost at a quick speed rate, maybe humanity just want to reduce cultural differences between countries after all. But I do not think this is why this is going on, I think it is because powerful countries want to impose their language and lifestyle to the poor ones.
There is however a project that is trying to save all the language that exist now on earth by recording what remains of the Resistance of them. There are around 2.500 different languages that are being taking care of.

daedalus2u said...

The origins of language start with maternal bonding, something that all mammals do. That bonding is necessary because lactation is so energy intensive. The mother must be sensitive to the needs, and the health of her infants so as to optimize her reproductive success.

More fundamental than language is communication, which has large non-verbal components.

To communicate with an entity, you must have a “theory of mind” with which you emulate the others mental processes necessary to support thinking the concept. All communication is the exchange of mental concepts. One individual has a mental concept, uses their “theory of mind” to convert the mental concept into a language data-stream, the data-stream is transferred, the second individual then converts the data-stream into the mental concept using their own “theory of mind”. If the two “theories of mind” are not sufficiently consilient, then the two individuals cannot communicate. If either of the neurological structures of the two brains are unable to support the mental processes to hold the mental concept, then that individual cannot even think it.

Much communication is non-verbal, and relates to transmitting emotional mental states. Language is more for transmitting abstract ideas that are much simpler than emotions. I see emotions more as autonomic nervous system states that meta-program the brain to function in particular ways.

I go into some detail about this in the context of autism.

Mariana Soffer said...

Perfect description of the bonding and interaction between mother and infant.

Is communication always related to mental models? are you sure? Probably all that we can perceive from the other person goes trough our mental model, which molds the input being being. If this is the case you are right.

"If brains are unable to support mental processes to hold the mental concept, then that individual cannot even think it". This is true at present time, but during their lifetimes individuals brains might be able to evolve and support more sophisticated mental processed that can hold more complex mental concepts. What I am not sure here is if you refer to neurological structures as something rigid or plastic.

I would say that most of the communication is non verbal and a lot of it is certainly related to emotional states.

Why do you consider abstract ideas much simpler than emotions? I am not sure about that. Maybe because they are a human invention which certainly does not have the degree of complexity that many years of evolution gave to the emotional part of the brain.

You say that emotions are like ans states, that is brilliant! They are. the different emotions are tightly
related to a specific ans state with its own particular settings
(hart rate, breath rate, amount of blog flow to determined places, ...). I have to think more about this but I think this is a big issue.

Excellent article about autism and more, I recommend you guys to read it, cause it explains lots of things about brain/language/communication and it also includes more technical information (which I am not very familiar with, therefore I shall begin to study them)

A pleasure to have you hear

geek said...

Wow! I've forgotten these things already. I took this up in a Linguistics subject 2 years ago.

The only one theory of the origin of language that got stuck to me is the anthropological theory (this is my bias). In examining the bones of our ancestors and tracing the possibilities of the origin of language, anthropologists suggested that language might've come about hand in hand with being bipedal. Because when we've become bipedal, our voice box is repositioned in such a way that a wide variety of sounds (other than grunting like our primate relatives) are possible.

But I think the theory of language in relationship with bipedalism fails to answer a lot of questions since it only tells us about the physiological nature of the origin of language -- questions such as why did they begin to speak? Why did they start forming words?

Ok, maybe I'll start digging my past readings and try to contribute more to this thread.

Thanks for posting this! It reminded me a lot of things lost in my memory.

Mariana Soffer said...

how are you doing man? I was wondering how you ve been.

Really you did studied linguistic, well I am doing lots of research about that, aboout the classical one, and about the nlp kind, specially I am in to opinion minding stuff, and in creating an unsupervised brain model that learns to talk, like in the turing test contest is done.

I would infer the unswer such as why did they began to speak, it was to help each other survive, warn about predators and indicate where the preys are.
They started forming words to communicate with each other obviously, to be able to say some things that where specific like how far is the lake they need to go to be able to drink water. And which path to follow to arrive to itl

Very interesteresting what you tell me about the antropological origins or story about language, it never occured to me that when we got up on our 2 feet is when transmitting information like that made more sense to us, I have to tell I am more biased about evolutionary theory, and a little the towards functional one.

You are more than weclome to colaborate, but you do not need to , do it only if you enjoy it, if you like to learn this kind ot thing.

Glad I made you remember cool stuff
Take care geek

geek said...

I just remembered something from a book I read (which I haven't finished yet, sad to say) that is related to your inference about why language began. There is indeed a need to communicate between people. I mean, our primate relatives even developed ways to warn each other of danger, for example -- even without developing such a sophisticated language as ours.

Anyway, back to your inference -- I read in the book that the same reason - survival - paved the way for mathematics. Well not mathematics generally, but the system of counting. They had to develop a system to know the number of the animals they should hunt, so they could appropriate the right number of hunters (It's like algebra, now that I come to think of it).

The genius of humans is that we know how to adapt to things for our survival.

Oh, and I'm fine by the way. And you? I still haven't done the exercising thing as you suggested. But I'm planning to...soon. :)

And don't think of my Linguistics background as hardcore. I need it for my course since Linguistics does have a big part in Anthropology. And Anthropology had and still has been borrowing ideas and theories from Linguistics.

Your research is very interesting. Unsupervised brain model that learns to talk. Wow! Well I hope your doing well in your research. I am actually interested in the ethnographic part of Linguistics.

And I am enjoying leaving comments in your blog since I find many topics here interesting. I promise you, it's not a stressful thing. It's actually fun!

Take care, also..

Mariana Soffer said...

Exactely that is the evolutionary viewpoint, language was developed with survival purposes.

There you have another evolutionary purpose for math to developed and transmit itself among humans.

Well the power of adaptation is certainly a very important one, several other species have it, not only the human one, but the advantage of human is their
enhaced cognitive habilities, they are more developed than the ones the other species have.

There is one distinction I would like to make what is language and what is communication in itself

I am more a less actually, I have been ill for a week, fever and my trhoat hurts, but the worst of all is that I missed the congress I organized with my colegue in argetina, where we bought guys from MIT and other places to do some deals, and I could not be there because everybody is paranoid with the swine flue stuff, that I have not got.

But anyway I am happy that you are ok, you are going to start doing excercise probabbly more soonner than later, but do not preasure yourself too much,
cause it causes the oposite effect.

I like antrophology a lot, I would like to know much more about it, I think ks a passionet thing to dedicate your life to, so I am starting to read some blogs that talk about the subjects.

Actually the research it is going pretty well indeed, I will have to expalin it to you one of these days, or I can send you a couple of papers, of the thesis in which is based, the problem with that is that is not very easy to understand that way, usually people who I give that stuff get frustrated in some kind of way.
I am so glad you enjoy leaving comments in the blog, I think it is because we have similar interests in life, specially about the research one, I bet it is not stressfull otherwise you would have quite by now.
Hugz for you, and one of this days I would like to talk about what you want to do research your in academic life.

geek said...

I hope you'll be ok soon. The hysteria about swine flu in the Philippines just faded. Well, just drink lots of water and don't get yourself too stressed out. It's better that you didn't get the swine flu, but it's still best to take extra care of your health.

I would love to discuss your research with you. I'm looking forward to it.

Oh, and if you need anthro resources for any reason, I might be able to help you. Just ask.

Take care, and get well soon.

Mariana Soffer said...

Hello ny friend, how are you doing}?
Thanks for whishing me well, but I think I still have one or two more days of staying at homen
hopefully on monday I will start working again, if hey do not tell me to stop working for good, causeI I jad been away from work for a long time now, and they do not like that.
It is great tbat you are interested in the research I am doing,let me rearrange my llife after these wiierds tims and then we might startt doing some plans,. Bu the way I am certainly morethan iintereted in your area of resesarch I think our s combine pretty well.
Take care my friend

ieva said...

Wow!! I have never heard of these theories before!

Mariana Soffer said...

it is probabbly because there are tons of them, you can check wikipedia for exmample

and you will probably find many other you never heard of, there is also another good page you can check:

The last one I like a lot personally
Take care

ieva said...

I think sometimes people want to explain things so much that they go overboard. I would like to believe that languages evolved naturally with the need for more advanced communication..

Mariana Soffer said...

it is very intersting what you say, and I think it aplies in this case, there are so many theories and explanations about language, along with the explanation of how the brain works with that and how society promoted it, and there are such wierd theories that I am convince that you are right.

Yes language evolved as you said, but not the explanation of them.

Take care my new friend

Lane Savant said...

Language is concentrated music.

Mariana Soffer said...

Lane savant:
I would say that music is a language that is true for sure, music even has a grammar of its own.

Nowadays we use language to transmit our knowledge, desires, frustrations etc. Language is an extremely complex structured system that allows us to exchange information between humans beings. Probably music developed before it for the same purposes that language did but failed to evolve satisfactorily and was replaced by our current form of communication transmittinh feelings trough art.


Why do you say is concentrated? I do not understand that

Mariana Soffer said...

Lane savant:
I would say that music is a language that is true for sure, music even has a grammar of its own.

Nowadays we use language to transmit our knowledge, desires, frustrations etc. Language is an extremely complex structured system that allows us to exchange information between humans beings. Probably music developed before it for the same purposes that language did but failed to evolve satisfactorily and was replaced by our current form of communication transmittinh feelings trough art.


Why do you say is concentrated? I do not understand that

Mariana Soffer said...

Lane savant:
I would say that music is a language that is true for sure, music even has a grammar of its own.

Nowadays we use language to transmit our knowledge, desires, frustrations etc. Language is an extremely complex structured system that allows us to exchange information between humans beings. Probably music developed before it for the same purposes that language did but failed to evolve satisfactorily and was replaced by our current form of communication transmittinh feelings trough art.


Why do you say is concentrated? I do not understand that

Lane Savant said...

Music expresses generalities, feelings, moods, broad truths but you can't say something like "go to the corner of fifth and Pine street and wait for a man with a white poodle who will give you a brown envelope and bring take the envelope to the post office on 14th and Main" with music. You could describe how it might feel to do so.

Mariana Soffer said...

Lane Savant:
it is funny to picture giving instructions just by the use of music, that is for human beings but maybe and actually birds use music in that way, of course you have to consider that the language is much simpler than ours.
What I really think about music is that in evolutionary terms it was the first auditive communication system that existed, that it is why is so related to more basic functionalities of the brain such as feelings. But somehow for humans music did not work, we needed something more complex and rich, that is why language emerged and music was left aside and eventually became an artistic expression.
I was thinking also that metaphors are fundamental for language, for example when you create a new concept is usually done base on a metaphore of a previously existing one, and I do not know if it is possible to translate that to music, I can't imagine metaphors emerging from musical communication type.

Thanks a lot for your visit lane

Anonymous said...

Muchas gracias Mariana. I appreciate you taking the time to read my poem! I am extremely surprised as all your posts topics are so intriguing. These are the topics I choose to think about while by myself considering most of my friends are not intellectuals and would never bother discussing such things. I will add you to my blogroll and I hope you do not run out of interesting subjects to talk about! I was wondering if these are articles you have found on the internet or written yourself?

Mariana Soffer said...

The pleasure is all mine! I took the time to read your poems cause I like them I find them good and interesting. Thank you for your compliment about my posts. One of the good things in life is to discover new things to share with people you never imagine you had something in common with. I do hope I do not run out of interesting stuff too, if so let me know, or allow me one bad post as a mistake. Most of the articles I writen myself, except the fables which of course are classical stories that I took from the net, although I changed them a little to, towards the way I like them to emphasize the story to.
Take care

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