Did language begin 2.5 million years ago?

The science or study of primitive societies and the nature of man.

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Postby Minimalist » Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:03 pm

You know what, Ish? I can't draw that well!
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Postby Ishtar » Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:04 pm

Figures! :lol:
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Postby Digit » Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:13 pm

The grunting bit isn't what I suggested Ish. It would be difficult to accept that the movement of the Hyoid bone to it's present location, plus all the requisite nerves and musculature, along with the necessary brain power and co-ordination for true speech, all occurred at precisely the same time.
Clicks, whistles, screams etc could all have been used to aid communication long before true speech was made possible by all the necessary parts coming together. If that was so then true speech, when it became possible, would simply have been grafted onto existing behavior.
But even grunting, along with changes in length and pitch, perhaps with the addition of body language and gestures, could convey a surprising amount.
Speech would then have been icing to an existing cake.
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Postby Ishtar » Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:49 pm

I guess it comes down what we call 'speech', Dig.

There's an enormous variety of sounds you can make before you get to actual words as we know them...and .not just the shape of sound itself, but also the musical pitch.

If speech just means how you communicate with each other via sounds coming out of your mouth, then doubtless the Neaderthals spoke.
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Postby Digit » Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:56 pm

Language as I understand it is a group of grammatically structured sounds, and we call those sounds speech.
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Postby rich » Thu Jul 10, 2008 2:10 pm

I've always noticed that the relationship between mother and child always seems to revolve around language - "Stop it, NOW", "Get over here", "Quiet", and a whole slew of other corrective measures mothers use to communicate with their little luvies when bound to them for prolonged periods of time. If you ask me women were the inventors of language per se.
And children always seem to learn very quickly what they're not supposed to say!
I think it boils down to a game nature plays with us and then our need to stop the catastrophies surrounding us when we least need them to happen. And of course the ever evolving name calling that children come up with - all seemingly by themselves at very early ages!!!

Basically, if children can learn to speak at an early age and dogs can understand language (although it's not native to them), and parrots can learn to speak to whatever limits, why do we even figure that a Neandertal or other human would have trouble devising speech and understanding it at any stage of human history?? All mothers need to communicate to their little luvies at some point in the relationship!!!
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Postby Minimalist » Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:07 pm

But even grunting, along with changes in length and pitch, perhaps with the addition of body language and gestures, could convey a surprising amount.



I knew guys who could have a whole conversation without uttering a coherent sound.

Monday mornings in the college dining hall could be rough.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Postby Rokcet Scientist » Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:30 pm

I'll venture that HE communicated with grunts and mono-syllables. Every hominid variant since had better and ever more complex communicative abilities. I'll wager that the art of 'debating' has been with HSS since at least 100,000 years. It was the ideal environment for the development of speech and logical reasoning: huddled around camp fires! Remember your summer camps?
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Postby War Arrow » Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:57 am

Ishtar wrote:
Digit wrote: I think it would be bad science to suggest that that ability was needed to produce such works.


And you think I'm going to lose sleep about that? Thought you knew me better by now, Dig! :lol:

The only reason there's an inbuilt assumption that early man communicated with grunts is because of scientists who insist that man is descended from apes, and yet they are a million miles away from proving it.

That's what I call 'bad science'.

Speech, imagination and dexterity all come under cognitive abilities. By these paintings, we know they had advanced cognitive abilities around 28,000 BC - more than apes anyway! :lol:


Hmmm... are we not talking about two very different points on the evolutionary tree, one of which (Ish) presumably had complex language, and one of which (what I thought Digit was referring to) didn't?

As for ugs and grunts... don't knock the ugs and grunts: as I believe Digit was suggesting (in any case I was agreeing) the words are the tip of the linguistic iceberg made up of tone of voice, facial expression, body language etc.

And yeah - I'd agree whoever produced that painting was probably reasonably sophisticated.

Edit: just read rest of posts and see this kind of is being said. sorry, half asleep here.
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Postby rich » Fri Jul 11, 2008 9:05 am

I hope you do realize they've had parrots, monkeys, gorillas, and even an elephant paint some decent pictures within the last 10 years. Of course they were special cases - of course we gave them the tools - but they did do it. They've even had a dog create some very complicated geometrical figures in his backyard stacking his toys and other objects around the yard in particular patterns - and repeat it over a few times - and they don't know why he does it.
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Postby rich » Fri Jul 11, 2008 9:11 am

Point is - it's not just all about cognition. It's also about want - desire - and how strong that want is.
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Postby Ishtar » Fri Jul 11, 2008 9:20 am

War Arrow wrote:Hmmm... are we not talking about two very different points on the evolutionary tree, one of which (Ish) presumably had complex language, and one of which (what I thought Digit was referring to) didn't?


Yeah, we're probably not being clear about our terms of reference.

I'm referring to the cave painters. I still reckon they chatted away about the relative literary merits of Proust and Andre Gide while daubing away at their masterpieces! :lol:
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Postby Digit » Fri Jul 11, 2008 10:16 am

I would agree Ish, but what I was saying is that you cannot state that art of that quality is proof of language.
In fact the need for cave paintings, whuch spanned a relatively short period of time, could equally be used to argue for a lack of language and that the need for the paintings vanished as language became more sophisticated.
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Postby kbs2244 » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:16 pm

Ish:
Something we can agree on!!
Even today, because of all our different languages, traffic signs have evolved ( or devolved, pick one) into pictograms.
It is a quicker and more easily grasped form of communication.
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Postby Ishtar » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:39 pm

Digit wrote:I would agree Ish, but what I was saying is that you cannot state that art of that quality is proof of language.
In fact the need for cave paintings, whuch spanned a relatively short period of time, could equally be used to argue for a lack of language and that the need for the paintings vanished as language became more sophisticated.


Sure, Dig. I take your point on that.

But let's look at what we know for sure.

Do we know they didn't talk?
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