73 votes
Accepted

Is Sanskrit really the mother of all languages?

No, it is not. First and foremost, there are many languages recorded long before the advent of Sanskrit, and many religions recorded long before the advent of Hinduism. The oldest surviving texts in ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.3k
31 votes

Is Sanskrit really the mother of all languages?

Sanskrit is not the mother of all languages. Sanskrit is not even the mother of the modern Indo-Aryan languages of the Northern India. Neither it is their father or grandfather. In fact, no language ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.4k
22 votes

Which animal is closest to having language and why?

This is a little like asking which species of elephant is closest to having the ability to fly. Animal communication is a long long way from human speech. The closest are probably the "usual ...
James K's user avatar
  • 564
20 votes
Accepted

How can unrelated language families exist after the evolution of language?

"Unrelated" in linguistics doesn't mean "have different origins". The convention is that we don't say that languages are related unless we have evidence of that relationship from ...
brass tacks's user avatar
  • 18.1k
13 votes

Which animal is closest to having language and why?

Human language is doubly articulated. That means that for every word (written or sounds), a regrouping of existing sounds (phonemes and morphemes) is used to produce meaning. Double articulation ...
Lambie's user avatar
  • 726
10 votes

Is Sanskrit really the mother of all languages?

Not at all. Sanskrit, Latin and a few other languages had a common ancestor called Proto-Indo-European, which was prevalent around 2500 BC on the southern steppes of Russia. It is a fact that ...
joe's user avatar
  • 363
10 votes

Could you point out some theories on how the names for numbers developed?

The following theories that try to explain the origin of Proto-Indo-European numerals are mentioned in J. P. Mallory, D. Q. Adams, The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-...
J. Siebeneichler's user avatar
10 votes
Accepted

Was language invented only once or several times?

The question raises three terminological issues: what is "language", what is "invented" and what is "once"? It does presuppose that there was a prior state without language, and a later state with it (...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
9 votes

How would someone begin translating an unknown language?

Take a look at John Chadwick's The Decipherment of Linear B. It does include some relevant theory -- I've used it as a text in an elementary linguistics course.
Greg Lee's user avatar
  • 12.5k
9 votes

Which animal is closest to having language and why?

As James K says, nothing is 'close' in a general sense. A number of animals can do things that are somewhat similar to "using language". Parrots are (in principle, not automatically) good at ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
8 votes

How can unrelated language families exist after the evolution of language?

Some of your historical presumptions are questionable (esp. "single migration"), but that's not a fatal problem. The crux of the problem is the definition of 'related'. This is a scientific ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
8 votes
Accepted

Is agnosticism the current orthodoxy regarding linguistic macrofamilies?

I think the prior question should be, who gets to vote? The difference between agnosticism and dogmatic nihilism, as I interpret the concepts, is that the agnostician simply says "I don't know", and ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
8 votes

What is the essence of the dispute between Wolfe and Chomsky?

It's complex at first but there's very little controversy to be found. Noam Chomsky is a linguist and political activist famous for revolutionizing the study of all areas of linguistics via ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 4,455
7 votes

What is the essence of the dispute between Wolfe and Chomsky?

Chomsky's argument for the Universal Grammar: Children pick up language quickly because of a Language Acquisition Device (LAD). While the LAD is hypothetical, Chomsky believes it to be innate and a ...
rajah9's user avatar
  • 584
5 votes
Accepted

Why does Latin, Turkish, and Albanian share common words?

There are three possible explanations: Turkish has borrowed many words from other languages, just as has Albanian. I have been told courant d'air is actually a Turkish word (probably spelled the ...
Cerberus's user avatar
  • 7,976
5 votes

How would someone begin translating an unknown language?

My answer is just an addition to Greg Lee's answer here. John Chadwick popularized how Michael Ventris and he deciphered Linear B, but the first right steps to the decipherment were made by Alice ...
nikolas's user avatar
  • 151
5 votes

How would someone begin translating an unknown language?

Your question is closely related to Bootstrapping, a process in which children initiate the language acquisition. Therefore, in addition to knowledge how scientists decipher the unknown language, ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
4 votes

Are some languages more advanced than others?

If you mean full-blown natural languages, the answer is negative unless you introduce a notion of advanceness which will handicap some languages with respect to others (e.g. by setting (the length of) ...
jaam's user avatar
  • 504
4 votes

Are some languages more advanced than others?

Some languages make it more difficult (impractical, though maybe not impossible) to express some concepts. For example, most European languages have a wide range of tenses for verbs, including ...
Laurence Renshaw's user avatar
4 votes

Which animal is closest to having language and why?

Research done by Con Slobodchikoff suggests prairie dogs have a sophisticated communication system that can convey detailed, varied information in their calls. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/...
DKNguyen's user avatar
  • 165
3 votes

Has the current opinion of linguists about the earliest language been influence by ethology?

Linguists are pretty much unpersuaded by dubious claims about parrots and dogs "having language" in some sense. However, there is an actual albeit small influence from evolutionary biology ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
3 votes

Did Proto-Sino-Tibetan and Proto-Indo-European languages have the same origin?

The interesting question here is whether humans developed a common language prior to migration from Africa. This is not a linguistic question in the strict sense, it is a question of human evolution ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
3 votes

Onomatopoeia origin of language?

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 ...
Davius's user avatar
  • 570
3 votes
Accepted

What is motivatedness?

In the context of sound-symbolism and indeed the semiotic theories that are discussed in the article, a sign (linguistic or otherwise) is said to be motivated or iconic if its signifier has something ...
Typhon's user avatar
  • 1,023
3 votes

Was language invented only once or several times?

Well, it happens even nowadays that languages are created anew from fragments of other languages. There are creoles like Papiamento or Tok Pisin that are created from fragments of different and ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
3 votes

How would someone begin translating an unknown language?

Hopefully you can revise your question: Are there clues as to how old the language is? Does the language use a known alphabet (or have any hints of parentage)? Are their contextual samples (signs or ...
amI's user avatar
  • 666
2 votes

What is the essence of the dispute between Wolfe and Chomsky?

Here is my summary (drawn from reviews of Wolfe's book -- I didn't read it). A correct view of this question about the nature of language would have to emerge from exposure to facts in the field. ...
Greg Lee's user avatar
  • 12.5k
2 votes

Is it possible to detect onomatopoeic basis in indigenous languages?

Max Müller started the tradition of giving such silly names to theories of language origin in his 1861 Lectures on the Science of Language, which is available on line and which I recommend to you. ...
Greg Lee's user avatar
  • 12.5k
2 votes
Accepted

What is the origins of this language from the Circassian family?

I'm curious how you know what Sumerian sounded like, or what the extinct Semitic languages sound like. It does not sound like Modern Hebrew, nor in my opinion like Arabic or Tigre (Ethiopian Semitic). ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
1 vote

Did Proto-Sino-Tibetan and Proto-Indo-European languages have the same origin?

The short answer is: Yes, they probably have a common origin, but we are unable to make any solid claims about that common origin. A bit longer story: Historical linguistics has a time depth of 5–10 k ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar

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