LANGUAGE AND ORIGIN OF LANGUAGE – PREHISTORIC TIMES TO THE 21ST CENTURY

Harold L Carter, The Human Odyssey:  The African Odyssey:  The African Heritage in World History and Human Biological and Cultural History:  From Prehistoric Times:  4.6 Billion Years Ago and the Earliest Civilizations:  Nile River Valley, Tigris and Euphrates River Valley, Asian Chinese Yangze and Yellow River Valley, and Indus River Valley:  6,000 Years Ago to the 21st Century (Winter 2014)

Chapter 4:

“By the 1980s origin of language in the human species was a widely discussed topic, with little or no mainline consensus by many scholars.

1866: The Linguistic Society of Paris banned dabates on the subject.

1799:        George W. Stocking, Jr., The Société des Observateurs de lHomme, (the first anthropological society) founded in the eighth year of the first French Republic (November or early December 1799),and its purpose, objectives, and activities in Race, Culture, and Evolution: Essays in the History of Anthropology (The University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London), 1982, pp. 15-21.   Its members included the biologists Cuvier, Lamarck, Jussieu, and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire; the physicians Cabanis and Pinel; the chemist Fourcroy; the explorers Bougainville and Levaillant; the linguists Destutt de Tracy and Sicard; and a number of other scholars in various fields. [Footnote: Quoted from the Magasin encyclopédique by Georges Hervé, Le premier programme, p. 521; members are listed by Bouteiller, “La Société,” p. 449, and by Reboul, Jauffret, p. 34]

Carl Sagan, Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (Ballantine Books: New York), 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, Chapter 1: Broca’s Brain,” p. 7:

Paul Broca, a French surgeon, a neurologist and an anthropologist, and a major figure in the development of both medicine and anthropoogy, it was indicated:

“ …(Paul Broca) encountered great difficulty in establishing a society in France. The Minister of Public Instruction and the Prefect of Police believed that anthropology must as the free pursuit of knowledge about human beings be innately subversive to the state. When permission was at last and reluctantly granted for Broca to talk about science with eighteen colleagues, the Prefect of Police held Broca responsible personally for all that might be said in such meetings ‘against society, religion, or the government.’ Even so, the study of human beings was considered so dangerous that a police spy in plain clothes was assigned to attend all meetings, with the understanding that authorization to meet would be withdrawn immediately if the spy was offended by anything that was said. Inthese circumstances the Society of Anthropology of Paris gathered for the first time on May 19, 1859, the year of the publication of the Origin of Species. In subsequent meetings an enormous range of subjects was discussed – archaeology, mythology, physiology, anatomy, medicine, psychology, linguistics and history – and it is easy to imagine the police spy nodding off in the corner on many an occasion.

OPPOSITION TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY: 1876:

“… Not only the police but also the clergy opposed the development of anthropology in France, and in 1876 the Roman Catholic political party organized a major campaign against the teaching of the subject in the Anthropological Institute of Paris founded by Broca.

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ORIGIN OF LANGUAGE:

John A. Hawkins, University of Southern California and Murray Gell-Mann, California Institute of Technology,

“Preface,. About the Workshop, SFI Studies, “The Sciences of Complexity,” Proceedings Volume X, Editors, J. A. Hawkins and M. Gell-Mann, Addison-Wesley, 1992 in The Evolution of Human Languages, A Proceedings Volume in the SFI Studies in the Sciences of Complexity, of the Workshop on the Evolution of Human Languages held August 1989 in New Mexico, Editors, John A. Hawkins, Department of Linguistics , University of Southern California and Murray Gell-Mann, California Institute of Technology and Volume XI, Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity (Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, The Advanced Book Program: Redwood City, California; Menlo Park, California; Reading, Massachusetts; New York, Don Mills, Ontario; Wokingham, United Kingdom; Amsterdam, Bonn, Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo, Madrid, San Juan), 1992, xiii, it was indicated

“THE EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE AND INTELLIGENCE”:

“In August 1989 a five-day workshop was held at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico on the subject of the evolution of human languages. Its goal was to bring together some leading scholars for a joint discussion of many aspects of this general theme.

Most of the participants were linguists, but representatives from psycholinguistics, anthropology, neuroanatomy, biology (population genetics), and physics were also present. The Santa Fe Institute is founded on the premise that there may be common principles that determine the behavior of complex adaptive systems, and it seeks to discover these principles by studying specific systems in the context of more general themes.

HUMAN LANGUAGE:

Human language is one such system, and understanding how it works and how it has evolved and changed over time has a potential significance well beyond the narrow confines of the field of linguistics.” (emphasis added)

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  1. Roger Lewin The Origin of Modern Humans (Scientific American Library:, Division of HPHLP: New York), 1993, indicated:

“Dean Falk, who like Holloway, has made a study of human fossil brains, comes to the same overall conclusion. Although she does not agree with Holloway that the humanlike brain structure is present in australopithecines, she does concur that it is to be seen in earliest Homo (Homo habilis).

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Although Merritt Ruhlen, in the Prologue: “What Do We Mean by the Origin of Language?” in The Origin of Language: Tracing the Evolution of the Mother Tongue (John Wiley & Sons,Inc: New York Chichester, Brisbane, Toronto, Singapore), 1994,p. 1, stated:

“We have no information on the languages or even the linguistic abilities of these earlier hominids. Nor are we ever likely to. (emphasis added)

It is Merritt Ruhlen who provides a broad or general introduction to the evolution of language and intelligence by raising questions that he considered not yet answered, although at the same time expressing conclusions that were not contrary to the more detailed answers or responses by several other recognized experts in the field of linguists and hominid evolution.

THE EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE AND INTELLIGENCE IN AFRICA  

The author stated:

“One day in the early 1980s, I was startled by a story in a popular magazine about a mathematical theorem that was so complex it had taken dozens ofmathematicians decades to prove it.

As a linguist,I was especially impressed by the fact that many different people had collaborated on a single aim, which took years to attain. In linguistics these days, each scholar is expected to have his own theory of grammar= and such extensive collaborative efforts among linguists are rare. Or so I thought when I first read the article.

Several years later, I realized that linguists had, in fact, worked together, for at least two centuries, to prove something of even more fundamental importance than this famous mathematical theorem. WHAT THESE LINGUISTS HAD DONE, WAS TO SHOW THAT ALL THE LANGUAGES NOW SPOKEN ON EARTH (ROUGHLY 5,000 BY MY COUNT) ARE DESCENDANTS OF A SINGLE ANCESTRAL LANGUAGE. Yet I also realized that most linguists (indeed, virtually all linguists) were unaware that this proof existed in the linguistic literature. (emphasis added)

IN FACT, ALMOST ALL LINGUISTS WHO HOLD THE PH.D. DEGREE BELIEVE THAT SUCH A PROOF NOT ONLY DOES NOT EXIST, BUT CANNOT EXIST, BUT CANNOT EXIST FOR (ALLEGED) REASONS THAT WILL BE EXAMINED IN THE COURSE OF THIS BOOK.

IN MY OPINION, SUCH BELIEFS ARE SO FERVENT PRIMARILY BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT ALMOST ALL LINGUISTS HAVE BEEN TAUGHT IN THE COURSE OF THEIR PROFESSIONAL TRAINING. VERY FEW OF THEM HAVE EVER BOTHERED TO EXAMINE THE EVIDENCE FIRST-HAND. FURTHERMORE, THERE IS A GREAT TEMPTATION TO ACCEPT THE VIEWS OF EXPERTS IN FIELDS OUTSIDE ONE’S OWN AS VALID, A TEMPTATION TO WHICH VIRTUALLY EVERYONE SUCCUMBS. (emphasis added)

THE NOTION THAT EUROPEAN LANGUAGES ARE SOMEHOW SPECIAL AND UNRELATED TO THE REST OF THE WORLD’’S LANGUAGES HAS PERSISTED – INDEED FLOURISHED – THROUGHOUT THE TWENTIETH CENTURY DESPITE ABUNDANT EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY. AS YOU WILL SEE IN THE COURSE OF THIS BOOK, THE ACTUAL

EVIDENCE HAS OFTEN TAKEN A BACK SEAT TO THE WELL-ENTRENCHED EXPECTATIONS OF EXPERTS. I HOPE THAT ONE SALUTORY ASPECT OF THIS BOOK WILL BE TO SHOW HOW FOOLISH SUPPOSED EXPERTS CAN SOMETIMES BE. IN THIS BOOK YOU, THE READER, WILL DISCOVER THINGS THAT DISTINGUISHED SCHOLARS CONSIDER BEYOND THEIR CAPABILITIES. (emphasis added)

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About Harold L Carter

Bachelor of Science, Columbia University Masters degree, Ohio State University Undergraduate National Officer, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Eastern Asst Vice President, when a student at Columbia University Profile Photograph: Mom & Me, when I was a graduate student
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