What was the first language?

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CX

posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 04:29 AM
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Could someone please tell me what the earliest known speakable language was?

I've tried searching around the net but with a limited knowledge of history and language compared to some here, i'm just coming up with mixed and confusing answers.

My reason for wanting to know this is because i would like to learn an early language, the more historical and "significant" the better. Any suggestions? Does anyone have any experience with this? No particular use in mind for this at present, just purely an interest thing, something different to learn other than the norm.

Thanks in advance,

CX.




posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 04:32 AM
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ahhh ..... oooohhh ...... aghhhhrrrrr ...... oooommmpphhh .....


CX

posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 04:45 AM
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Originally posted by R3KR
ahhh ..... oooohhh ...... aghhhhrrrrr ...... oooommmpphhh .....


Cool, that should'nt be too hard!


CX.



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 04:58 AM
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Im not positive but im thinking Latin most likely. I may be wrong here, but everything is deriven from latin so maybe latin?



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 05:19 AM
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Hi CX,

I don't mean to confuse the issue for you, but the question, "what is the oldest, speakable language" is somewhat difficult to answer, since in a sense, all languages are equally old.

Most languages in the world are grouped together into linguistic families that you are probably familiar with. One of the most well studied language groups is the Indo-European family. This group of languages houses Sanskrit, Greek, German, English, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, and many others. Although from an initial, superficial analysis, we would think Sanskrit and English are quite different from each other, we see upon examining the syntax, phonology, and certain core vocabularies, that Sanskrit and English are indeed related to each other.

Most linguists posit that all Indo-European languages derived from an older, singular language often called Proto-Indo-European. Please note we do not know what this proto language sounded like. We can only reconstruct parts of its phonetics and grammar from the way we have noticed how these aspects of language have changed within existing Indo-European languages.

So taking this small sample of languages we can deduce that all Indo-European languages are equally "old." One very important consideration you want to keep in mind. Do not confuse whether a language has an ancient written recording as being "more ancient." Writing is just a way of transmitting oral aspects of a language, and really doesn't have much to do with language itself.

If we broaden our perspective to include many other language families, such as the Semitic languages (Hebrew, Arabic) Amer-Ind languages (various languages spoken by North American Indian tribes), etc. some linguists believe that all these geographically flung languages share an even more remote common ancestor. One popular hypothesis for this calls this proto-language Nostratic. However, and again this is important to note, the evidence for this proto-language is very, very flimsy. It has to be. Unfortuantely given the change in languages over time, we simply cannot push the evidence back far enough to really be sure what these earliest proto-languages might have been.

So, sorry if this didn't help you in your immediate situation, but I thought your question highlights a misunderstanding of languages that could be clarified.


CX

posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 08:22 AM
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Originally posted by Toromos
So, sorry if this didn't help you in your immediate situation, but I thought your question highlights a misunderstanding of languages that could be clarified.


On the contrary Toromos, your post was a big help. Like i said, i have limited knowledge in this area.

You've just made my choices harder thats all lol


Thanks again,

CX.



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 08:28 AM
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I thought the oldest writen (coneform)/spoken language was sumarian around 6000 bc



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 08:41 AM
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Originally posted by CX

Originally posted by Toromos
So, sorry if this didn't help you in your immediate situation, but I thought your question highlights a misunderstanding of languages that could be clarified.


On the contrary Toromos, your post was a big help. Like i said, i have limited knowledge in this area.

You've just made my choices harder thats all lol


Thanks again,

CX.


I commend your desire to study ancient languages. It can be great fun and will really change your understanding on how many classic works of literature are read. There's a big difference in reading The Iliad in an English translation and being able to read it in ancient Greek. After you've learned to read an ancient language like that, you really learn to appreciate how difficult it is to render the writings of ancient writers into modern languages.



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 08:50 AM
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Originally posted by EvilBat
I thought the oldest writen (coneform)/spoken language was sumarian around 6000 bc


The best evidence so far points to Sumerian as being the oldest written language we have. However, just because Sumerian was written down, doesn't mean it was (or is) the oldest language ever spoken. Just as there are many languages that are spoken today that do not have a written form, so to there were surely many languages spoken that were contemperaneous with Sumerian, and even preceded the language, without having had the language written down. Think of all the languages that were surely spoken by the various peoples in North and South American six thousand years ago. None of them, as far as we know, were written down, but surely people spoke to each other then.

Now, having an ancient language written down surely helps us in figuring out how the language was spoken and used. (Although even this is sometimes useless unless we have a way of associating the written text with a known language.) Indeed, it is often the only way we can do this. But having a language written down isn't the same as language itself. Writing is an attempt to transmit symbolically, for lack of a better term, language as a spoken phenomena.



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 08:50 AM
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I think the Nostratic language is far back as linguists can trace Western languages. I imagine Chinese and other east Asian as well as Native American languages evolved completely separately.



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 09:37 AM
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Originally posted by djohnsto77
I think the Nostratic language is far back as linguists can trace Western languages. I imagine Chinese and other east Asian as well as Native American languages evolved completely separately.


I actually don't know a whole lot about the Nostratic hypothesis except for a brief mention in one of my linguistics courses. The wikipedia article on Nostratic makes it pretty comprehensive, although it leaves out Greenberg's work on the Amer-Ind languages.

en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 12:33 PM
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Toromos

You look like someone with a good knowledge of this subject.

Could you please tell us what is your opinion about the Euskara, the Basque language?



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 01:02 PM
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Originally posted by ArMaP
Toromos

You look like someone with a good knowledge of this subject.

Could you please tell us what is your opinion about the Euskara, the Basque language?


Thanks for your kind words. I should state up front I'm not a linguist. I have a masters degree in philosophy where I did a lot of work in philosophy of language. Through that I took several linguistics courses.

As far we can tell, Basque is an isolate language. It does not seem related to any current language now used in the world. One of the better theories that I've studied says Basque dervies from one of the last surviving indigenous languages of Gaul before the Roman conquest. There is no definitive proof of this. However, there has been some interesting DNA work that shows that the Basque people have a distinguishable DNA blueprint from their Spanish neighbors. Again, this might be considered merely isolation on the part of the Basques, but it does lend circumstantial evidence to the claim that the Basque people, and their language, are derived from a people and language not related to the conquering Romans and their various dialects of Latin, (such as French, Italian, Spanish, Porteguese, etc.)

There was an interesting show on NOVA that discusses many of the issues in this thread, and particulary the Basque language you and other's might be interested in.

www.pbs.org...



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 01:32 PM
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Good stuff Toromos!

I wonder if you could confirm something I was once told.. that if one compares even the oldest languages from different parts ofd the world, they have similar words for certain objects and concepts, if those concepts would have been those most useful to people at the time...

e.g. I recall the word for "dear", or "mountain" or "bear" or "water" being similar for example, all being the concepts that people back than would have needed to discuss..

Sorry, no link. A bloke down the pub told me. Is this the case?



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 01:36 PM
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Whatever Basques speak is pretty old.



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 01:56 PM
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Originally posted by nowthenlookhere
Good stuff Toromos!

I wonder if you could confirm something I was once told.. that if one compares even the oldest languages from different parts ofd the world, they have similar words for certain objects and concepts, if those concepts would have been those most useful to people at the time...

e.g. I recall the word for "dear", or "mountain" or "bear" or "water" being similar for example, all being the concepts that people back than would have needed to discuss..

Sorry, no link. A bloke down the pub told me. Is this the case?


I think with our current understanding in comparing languages, there is no core vocabulary that is shared by all languages, or even all ancient languages. One problem we have is the ability to generate evidence. We really can only push our speculations about proto-languages to about 10,000 years ago. Before this time, there just isn't anything to go on. We assume that humans did use language before this break off period, but we just don't have any hard data to discern what this would have been like.

There are some linguists who do claim there is a core sort of vocuabulary involving words such as sun, moon, milk, mother, etc., and they hold this as evidence for a true proto-world language that all others have derived. However, linguists tend to be a cautious lot, and on the whole I would say this manner of analysis is not widely accepted.

However, that does not mean there is no place for it at all. Let's go back to our old friend Proto-Indo-European. There is reasonable evidence to suggest that this proto language derived somewhere around the Black Sea area, known as the Kurgan culture. Linguists have discovered through the analysis of the kernal vocuabulary for PIE that words for certain animals, plants, and tools, were probably derived from this area of the world. Again, this is not definitive, and some linguists argue for an Anatolian genesis for PIE. (Modern day Turkey)



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 04:38 PM
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I watched a TV program today about the finno-karelen-urgic-sami-hungary language trail. They also looked into biology, songs, clothing and traditions.
When we look at all these things they found the oldest common word was names of trees. The tree that all these people have in their separate areas is elm (hope I remember the right tree now!
) but I don't remember what that word was in their language.
The first version of Kalevala is clearly a work for shamans (later on it became a story of war between finno or karelen and sami. But this war never existed and the sami don't even have/had a word for war). The shaman belt; Scandinavia to Chukot (east Russia) to Japan, and the American continents.

With all these things in mind, we find that not only is the finno, urgic, sami and hungarians related, but the Greenlanders and at least the north american indians is related in some way or other. They speculated that it (the common origin of these peoples traditions and languages) could be 20, 30 or 40 000 years old. This would mean that these language groups would be far older than any indo-european proto-languages.

Toromos is right about looking at languages alone can only lead to speculations. One must look at everything, really. And it still might not be enough as proof.



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 07:44 PM
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Originally posted by nowthenlookhere
I wonder if you could confirm something I was once told.. that if one compares even the oldest languages from different parts ofd the world, they have similar words for certain objects and concepts, if those concepts would have been those most useful to people at the time...


That's one way to determine a "language family", but they also have to look at how sentences are formed and other linguistic structures.

Humans have been capable of speech for about 2 million years (according to some research items.)
www.asa3.org...

But we don't know what they spoke or how they spoke or what kind of language they had or how many words it had, as Toromos said.

[edit on 15-8-2006 by Byrd]



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 09:17 PM
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Originally posted by CX
Could someone please tell me what the earliest known speakable language was?

The earliest known one would be a very very late one indeed. The earliest languages are almost certainly entirely lost to history.


My reason for wanting to know this is because i would like to learn an early language, the more historical and "significant" the better.

I'd think that your best bet is to learn ancient egyptian, very old (but of course, not all that old), but very significant. That or akkadian. Of course, they're both 'dead' languages, as is Latin.

What other languages do you speak?


inspiringyouth
, but everything is deriven from latin so maybe latin?

Only the latin-based languages are derived from latin, those languages include Italian, Spanish, French, and I beleive in Romania they still speak a derivative of it. Latin is itself a 'recent' branch on the "Indo-Euroean" language family tree, and IE is itself not anywhere near the earliest language.



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 09:24 PM
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That the original language was the so-called "green language" or "language of the birds."

Supposedly, there was a primordial mode of expressions that humans shared with nature, or at least with the avian kingdom.

Scholars in the middle ages had already begun to notice that every folklore had a tradition of the "loss of innocence" that was occasioned by the ability of humans to differentiate themselves from nature, and from each other in terms of tribes and clans.





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