Are there any "modern scholars" that support the onomatopoeia origin of language hypothesis?

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    The traditional name for this hypothesis is "the ding-dong theory". I don't believe any modern scholars hold it, but if you search for that, you should find what discussion ther eis.
    – Colin Fine
    Aug 10, 2019 at 22:45
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    Onomatopoeia (literally Greek for 'name-poetry') only describes words that sound like their meaning, so it can only refer to noises, and noisy things. Most things are not noisy, however, and most verbs don't have noisemaking as part of their meaning. So the range of things you can discuss onomatopoeically is strictly limited to topics like quack-quack and ow!.
    – jlawler
    Jul 2, 2022 at 21:02

1 Answer 1


Modern research on the origin of language focuses on how the "computational capacity of the mind" to process syntax could have arisen. In that sense, whether the first sounds were onomatopoeias or had another origin seems a secondary question (since humans are not parrots) and the key to human language lies in the ability to compute syntactically parseable sentences, rather than in having a certain inventary of sounds.

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