Questions tagged [origin-of-language]

How and when human languages came into being.

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How and when do polygenesis advocates think new primary language families arose?

I've been reading about linguistics and have read that most linguists are harshly critical of proposals of genetic relationships between primary language families, and that the predominant theory of ...
Xiang Yu's user avatar
21 votes
6 answers
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Which animal is closest to having language and why?

Apart from humans, which animal do linguists currently think has a communication system that is closest to being considered real language? "Language" meaning whatever linguists currently ...
minseong's user avatar
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How can unrelated language families exist after the evolution of language?

What I mean is this: Archeologically and genetically speaking, most indigenous peoples of North and South America (namely, all but the ones descending from those who brought the Na-Dené and Eskimo-...
Cecilia's user avatar
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Did Proto-Sino-Tibetan and Proto-Indo-European languages have the same origin?

Did Proto-Sino-Tibetan and Proto-Indo-European languages have the same origin? Did human develop a common language before migrated from Africa, and were most if not all the modern languages ...
Tim's user avatar
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Are there many "lexical universals" like mama/papa - based on similar re-creation?

Reading the article "Where do mama/papa words come from?" by Larry Trask, linked in this answer (itself based on Roman Jakobson's 1959 article ‘Why “mama” and “papa”?’) we see that a ...
cipricus's user avatar
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Has the current opinion of linguists about the earliest language been influence by ethology?

I read that it is believed that humans have been using language for only about 100k to 200k years. But recent work with various animals such as parrots and domestic dogs and cats has shown at the very ...
releseabe's user avatar
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2 answers
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Is agnosticism the current orthodoxy regarding linguistic macrofamilies?

I'm asking this very much much as a interested layman. As I understand things, the academic linguistics community, by and large, views macrofamily hypotheses - Nostratic, Altaic, etc - rather poorly. ...
Tom Hosker's user avatar
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Why does Latin, Turkish, and Albanian share common words?

Latin and Albanian are Indo-European languages so it makes sense that those two languages share many words with each-other. But why is it that Turkish — a non-Indo-European language — shares words ...
Get Chimp's user avatar
25 votes
3 answers
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Is Sanskrit really the mother of all languages?

Hindus believe that "Sanskrit is the mother of all Languages". It is a fact that Sanskrit has enriched most Indian Languages including the Dravidian Languages such as Telugu, as Latin enriched some ...
Jvlnarasimharao's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
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Onomatopoeia origin of language?

Are there any "modern scholars" that support the onomatopoeia origin of language hypothesis?
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What is the origins of this language from the Circassian family? [closed]

I was watching this video of a woman speaking Circassian on Youtube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiexAvps44Q i'm not a linguist but to me, it sounded like Sumerian or a very old semitic ...
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Was language invented only once or several times?

We have over 5000 language on Earth as of now, some extant and others not. These all came from what we now call proto languages, but do scientists believe that all proto languages came from one "mono-...
Charlie's user avatar
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2 answers
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Could you point out some theories on how the names for numbers developed?

At this point I don't want to explain my personal crackpot theories on how names for numbers emerged and I assume that anything remotely connected with the origin of language is highly speculative and ...
Abdul Al Hazred's user avatar
2 votes
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What exactly does the ding-dong theory of the origin of language state, according to Max Müller?

Max Müller is mentioned as one of the pioneers of the study of the origins of language, as he created a typology for the earlier origin of language theories based on the channel they draw the ...
Probably's user avatar
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What is motivatedness?

I've just encountered this term in the context of a study about sound symbolism, I suppose it is a factor that might play role in how are the new words being formed. What is meant by this factor?
Probably's user avatar
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Difference between languages related a long time ago and unrelated ones

Would there be a theoretical way to distinguish between two related languages which diverged a long time ago, like tens of thousands years, and two totally unrelated languages, say, created ...
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12 votes
6 answers
5k views

How would someone begin translating an unknown language?

Excuse my ignorance. I'm writing a work of fiction wherein an archeologist finds a tomb that contains not only the bodies of an unknown/unstudied society, but also samples of writing in that society's ...
Megan.D's user avatar
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What is the essence of the dispute between Wolfe and Chomsky?

I read the report in Sunday's Observer concerning the dispute between Tom Wolfe (author Kingdom of Speech) and Noam Chomsky (professor emeritus Massachusetts Institute of Technology) over their ...
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1 vote
2 answers
205 views

Is it possible to detect onomatopoeic basis in indigenous languages?

I'm about to study the ding dong vs the pooh pooh theories of the origin of language. I would like to make a poll with questions like "What emotions do you associate with the word "ka:men"?" and ...
Probably's user avatar
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Is there any language which doesn't have "hello", "thank you" or "please"? [closed]

If so, is there seen some relation (origin in the Proto-Human language), or did these phrases arose independently?
Probably's user avatar
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6 votes
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Language origin of english words by usage

This neat diagram was brought up on english.SE from wikipedia, based on research by Finkenstaedt, Thomas and Joseph M. Williams describing where words come from. On the wikipedia page it also states ...
David Mulder's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
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Is Chechen language close to Chinese?

If the both originate from Proto-Sino-Caucasian, then Chechen language should be close to Chinese. Is there any indication for this?
user9748's user avatar
13 votes
6 answers
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Are some languages more advanced than others?

I have read about animal communication, particularly in mammals and historical evidence in early hominoids. Naturally, I am always amazed how much information species like dolphins and orcas can ...
Stan Shunpike's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
173 views

Origin of Language as Commands? [closed]

I'm not sure if this type of thread is allowed, but I've been pondering the possibility that language began as commands rather than expression of arbitrary thoughts. This is based on the observation ...
Justin Olbrantz's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
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Is music a language?

I am a musician. I read an article in the NY Times that suggested both words and musical melodies follow Zipf's Law. I had never really thought about it before, but I started wondering do linguists ...
Stan Shunpike's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
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Has anyone attempted to simulate the creation/development of a language?

I suspect this is a dream confined to sci-fi for at least a few decades, but, I'd like to know if anyone has ever tried to create a computer model for the creation of a language, or at least ...
Lou's user avatar
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What is the word "spirituality" derived from? [closed]

What is the word spirtuality or spirit derived from? Is it's origin based on the Christian idea of the Holy Ghost, or perhaps something earlier, like how the Greeks and Romans believed in spirits? ...
Zain Rizvi's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
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Grice's cooperative principless

Based on Pragmatics Approach, there is one of the principle that involves in communication. It is cooperative principle. This principle consists of 4 maxims. There are maxim of quality (Truthful), ...
Rahma's user avatar
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2 votes
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Considering languages evolved over time, what could be the initial dataset?

If I assume evolution of language took place over time, I am curious as to what can be the initial population of words or syllable or anything. Lets say I am about to write a algorithm to evolve ...
Vicyan's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
392 views

Did language originate and evolve just as organisms did? As in Evolution by Natural Selection?

This is a follow up and linked to the question What evolution framework best describes the change between languages over time? I am interested in knowing how did language originate and how does it ...
Vicyan's user avatar
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5 answers
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How did the first words arise?

As far as I know linguists consider language arbitrary. If so, how does etymology work? We have a word and we trace it back to its origins. Then, we find that it either comes from a different language ...
Mark's user avatar
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4 answers
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Monogenesis vs. Polygenesis

By following the comments to another question about the evolution of Khoisan languages, I learned that there is a heated debate in Evolutionary Linguistics about the origin of language. Some quick ...
Otavio Macedo's user avatar