Monday, May 6, 2013

The Origins of Language: One Mother Tongue

Hola darlings!

Well, this hypothesis just makes so much sense to me. But it's very controversial. 

I've been interested in the origins of language (and words) for a long time.  Linguistics, etymology -anyone with half a brain knows that words are power, and I believe that they can unlock the secrets of the past and reveal things about our herstory that we do not, at present, know, and perhaps may never learn of any other way. 

I have this thought that if only I could study enough, dig deeply enough, work hard enough, and dig dig dig into research, I may be able to find a key or keys to unlock the ancient mysterious origins of chess and its predecessors.  Not something I am able to do, given the realities of making a living.  Four and a half more years until retirement, if I make it that far...

Oh yeah, I know what the accepted theory is, and I think it's full of baloney.  But the Germans keep insisting, year after year, that CHESS WAS INVENTED IN INDIA, and these days most everyone tows that line.   Like they're afraid to speak out otherwise.


Alas, most everyone who has said otherwise in the recent and not so recent past, are dead: Joseph Needham (China); Ricardo Calvo (possibly Persia).  And some, like Dr. David Li (China), are drowned out by those who claim that only certain "professionals" i.e., degreed historians or archaeologists, or certain "institutes" or "groups" funded by someone with pots of money pursuing a certain agenda, are the sole legitimate sources anyone with intelligence should look to for the answers.  You can check out more alternative views on the origins of chess at Goddesschess' collection of essays and research

Anyway, years ago, I read a book by Merrit Ruhlen, published in 1996, that upset a lot of people (i.e., really pissed some people off):  The Origin of Language: Tracing the Evolution of the Mother Tongue

This is a book I highly recommend to anyone interested in learning more, and using common sense in looking at how languages actually work and change over time.  Hey, all you nay-sayers and Ruhlen bashers out there, bwwwwwaaaaaahhhhaaaaahhhaaaa!

Before Babel? Ancient Mother Tongue Reconstructed

The ancestors of people from across Europe and Asia may have spoken a common language about 15,000 years ago, new research suggests.

Now, researchers have reconstructed words, such as "mother," "to pull" and "man," which would have been spoken by ancient hunter-gatherers, possibly in an area such as the Caucuses or the modern-day country of Georgia. The word list, detailed today (May 6) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help researchers retrace the history of ancient migrations and contacts between prehistoric cultures.

"We can trace echoes of language back 15,000 years to a time that corresponds to about the end of the last ice age," said study co-author Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. Tower of Babel The idea of a universal human language goes back at least to the Bible, in which humanity spoke a common tongue, but were punished with mutual unintelligibility after trying to build the Tower of Babel all the way to heaven.

But not all linguists believe in a single common origin of language, and trying to reconstruct that language seemed impossible. Most researchers thought they could only trace a language's roots back 3,000 to 4,000 years. (Even so, researchers recently said they had traced the roots of a common mother tongue to many Eurasian languages back 8,000 to 9,500 years to Anatolia, a southwestern Asian peninsula that is now part of Turkey.)

Pagel, however, wondered whether language evolution proceeds much like biological evolution. If so, the most critical words, such as the frequently used words that define our social relationships, would change much more slowly.

To find out if he could uncover those ancient words, Pagel and his colleagues in a previous study tracked how quickly words changed in modern languages. They identified the most stable words. They also mapped out how different modern languages were related.

They then reconstructed ancient words based on the frequency at which certain sounds tend to change in different languages — for instance, p's and f's often change over time in many languages, as in the change from "pater" in Latin to the more recent term "father" in English.

The researchers could predict what 23 words, including "I," "ye," "mother," "male," "fire," "hand" and "to hear" might sound like in an ancestral language dating to 15,000 years ago.

In other words, if modern-day humans could somehow encounter their Stone Age ancestors, they could say one or two very simple statements and make themselves understood, Pagel said.

Limitations of tracing language

Unfortunately, this language technique may have reached its limits in terms of how far back in history it can go.

"It's going to be very difficult to go much beyond that, even these slowly evolving words are starting to run out of steam," Pagel told LiveScience.

The study raises the possibility that researchers could combine linguistic data with archaeology and anthropology "to tell the story of human prehistory," for instance by recreating ancient migrations and contacts between people, said William Croft, a comparative linguist at the University of New Mexico, who was not involved in the study.

"That has been held back because most linguists say you can only go so far back in time," Croft said. "So this is an intriguing suggestion that you can go further back in time."


Babu G. Ranganathan said...

NATURAL LIMITS TO EVOLUTION: Only evolution within "kinds" is genetically possible (i.e. varieties of dogs, cats, etc.), but not evolution across "kinds" (i.e. from sea sponge to human). How did species survive if their vital tissues, organs, reproductive systems were still evolving? Survival of the fittest would actually have prevented evolution across kinds! Read my Internet article: WAR AMONG EVOLUTIONISTS! (2nd Edition). I discuss: Punctuated Equilibria, "Junk DNA," genetics, mutations, natural selection, fossils, genetic and biological similarities between species.

Natural selection doesn't produce biological traits or variations. It can only "select" from biological variations that are possible and which have survival value. The real issue is what biological variations are possible, not natural selection. Only limited evolution, variations of already existing genes and traits are possible. Nature is mindless and has no ability to design and program entirely new genes for entirely new traits.

Visit my latest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION

Babu G. Ranganathan*
B.A. Bible/Biology


*I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and universities. I've been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis "Who's Who in The East" for my writings on religion and science.

Anonymous said...

i had a vision when i was researching india and sanskrit. it seems sanskrit was brought to india from mongolia. the vision was four horsemen did that and as they decended to the subcontinent as india, which was an island at the time, was moving against the subcontinent and creating the himalayas; there was a huge upheaval in knowledge. not only that but the universe was flattened. yes our little spiral galaxies used to be nice round spheres. anyway sanskrit was used to absorb the dying knowledge of the civilization that existed in Ayodya or southern asia. actually it was hard to tell if sanskrit caused this or was just an innocent receptical. anyway studing sanskrit is a two edged sword because it does contain a huge amount of intuitive jist and yet proscribes that intuition rendering it inactive. the vision continued that someday sanskrit will be broken and the knowledge will be released; and all will return to a more fulfilled state. just a vision. but i like it. and i hate studing sanskrit. so it works for me!

Jan said...

Hi Mea,

I have read that Sanskrit is (paraphrasing) the "purest" form of language left today that contains the most antecedents of the proto-Indo-European language from which all other members of that language family descended, including the "romance" languages that are spoken today in much of the western world: Spanish, French, Italian, German and English.

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