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What was the first language?

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posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 09:34 PM
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A bit off topic, but I find it fascinating that the Basque language, supposedly unrelated to any other known language, still survives in Western Europe...it seems almost unthinkable how that could have happened.




posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 09:44 PM
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If we're also talking about folklore.

I remember, vaguely, a story about a greek king, who wanted to know what the first language was. He reasoned that the first men, having no one to learn language from, would naturally make it up, so he took a newborn, and had it raised such that it didn't get exposed to spoken langauge. The first word it spoke was "'Bread" (supposedly because he was hungry) in Phyrgian. The greeks had stories about the Phyrgians being an aboriginal people to their world.

Or at least the story goes something like that, I am not entirely sure of the details.


We also have to consider that, just like the Indo-European languages wiped out all the other languages in europe, leaving only basque as a remnant, that there could've been similar events in the very beginings of langauge. Notice that the K!ung people of africa speak a language that makes great use of 'bizzare' clicks and tweets, its entirely possible that something like that was the original language, and it was just replaced nearly everywhere. At a minimum, the K!ung click language shows that any sort of sounds could be the basis of a language.


Also, considering that chimps and other primates seem to have some sort of ability to communicate, while not having an actual language, we have too keep in mind that there might not even be a 'single' original language. A population of pre-humans spread throughout, say, east africa, might not have an actual language, and then the populations at the far ends of their geographic ranges might seperately 'cross the barrier' into language.



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 09:47 PM
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latin is rather new, we can find influences of it in almost every languege, I would go with something asian as the first languege, everyone migrated from one point to another, the american indians are some sort of russians they migrated from siberia a long time ago when siberia was connected with the pressent alaska by land before it split apart and became water, siberians and all other europians like the vikings, nordics are traciens and they first migrated in to the east part of europe , turks,huns, mongols and all other none white migrated later in europe as migratory population, tracs migrated from asia so I would think asia would be the start of civilisation, I think the first languege spoken it would be of asian origin, I dont think people that lived in africa spoke a languege at first , only after they started to migrate from africa to asia they were sparks of civilisations but still primitive, like from the cave to a house made out of mud.



[edit on 14-8-2006 by pepsi78]



posted on Aug, 14 2006 @ 09:55 PM
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Biblically it was Hebrew both letter and numerics in one. More advaced than today and even the Bible in Hebrew has calculations that defy explanation and probabilty of coincidence as 7 is the main factor.

The Arabs think Arabic was invented first and no real evidence of it exists to predate Hebrew, I do think it was covered up in history either also Hindu numbers are incorperated I have read.

Depends on your path of reading and which history you take.

I say Hebrew because of its advanced qualities and influence on Greek and Aramiac languages foundations.



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 12:10 AM
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One of my more bizarre hobbies (according to other people's standards) is my attention to artificially constructed languages. It's a great way to learn about linguistics, and the psychology of language.

Interestingly, grammar and syntax can reveal a lot about a language's pedigree.

This Conlang essay points out that the bulk of the world's languages follow a SVO (subject, then verb then object) word order for a normal sentence.

The thing is, a large minority of languages follow a different order. So obviously, there is no logical rule or biological 'hard-wiring' that dictates that a language must use a specific word order.

The current thinking seems to be that humans are born with an innate ability for language, but without specific language forms being inherited. In other words, our logic circuits naturally seek out sensical grammatical rules for speech. The individual rule matters less than that it fit.

Which brings up another issue. Language is constantly evolving. The ornate (even boroque) case system of Latin was pared down by its daughter languages. At the same time, word order often came to imply case, as in English.

Here are a few of my favorite sites, for anyone else interested in conlanging:

Wikipedia article on Constructed language

Ancient Scripts: types of writing systems

The Language Construction Kit (useful for creating your own languages)

Optimal auxiliary language guidelines

If you are interested in developing your own writing system, or a new font for a new language, the term for that is "conscript" (a constructed script)

Wikipedia Conscript article


J.R.R. Tolkien is the most famous conlanger of the modern world. He admitted in an interview before his death that the real reason for "The Lord of the Rings" was to make a world where his constructed languages of Elvish, Dwarvish, and proto-Halfling could be spoken. The plot was just morphed from Wagner's "Das Ring."

He referred to conlanging. as "The most solitary vice," referring to the fact that some of the world's most elegant languages have a population of one.

The O.G. of conlangers was St. Hildegaarde of Bingen, an Medieval nun and mystic who invented a secret language so she could talk to God without being overheard. Some of her students learnt it as well.

It was called "Lingua Ignota" which is Latin for "Unknown Tongue."

url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingua_ignota]Wikipedia "Lingua Ignota" article[/url]

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[edit on 15-8-2006 by dr_strangecraft]



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 05:22 AM
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Originally posted by Nygdan
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.


And do not forget the Portuguese, the second Latin language with more people speaking it, and, so some people say, one of the most difficult languages to learn.



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 07:25 AM
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I have little knowledge about linguistics, so I'm just tossing 2 cents in here...

(As with Nygdan's Greek story)... Wouldn't the first language go hand in hand with the first "mankind"? I.e. if humans originated in Central Africa, wouldn't the oldest language be an African language such as Xhosa, Tshwana or Pedi or one of the other Niger-Congo languages? Or digging a bit deeper we see that the KhoiSan (Bushmen) is one of the oldest ethnic groups (related to the Sangoans). Their languages are noted for their "click consonants". It's most probable that languages such as Xhosa and Zulu had its origin from the KhoiSan languages because of the similar clicks and some loan words.

Or maybe a bit more East where some say the "Cradle of Humanity" lays, then those that Toromos mentioned are most probably the "real deal"?

But I must agree with Nygdan... The earliest languages are probably lost to history.

But as I said... What do I know?



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 07:37 AM
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When you consider how much English has changed in the past 1,000 years (try reading Beowulf
) then it's pretty unlikely that any language today bears any resemblance to languages spoken 20,000 years ago.



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 08:35 AM
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Originally posted by Nygdan
If we're also talking about folklore.

I remember, vaguely, a story about a greek king, who wanted to know what the first language was. He reasoned that the first men, having no one to learn language from, would naturally make it up, so he took a newborn, and had it raised such that it didn't get exposed to spoken langauge. The first word it spoke was "'Bread" (supposedly because he was hungry) in Phyrgian. The greeks had stories about the Phyrgians being an aboriginal people to their world.


Egyptian pharoah named Psammanik (the Greek version of his name.) The only reason I know this is that I have some Bast amulets from his reign, and I looked him up.
It is purportedly a true story -- he used twins and the servants who rased them were mutes.



We also have to consider that, just like the Indo-European languages wiped out all the other languages in europe, leaving only basque as a remnant, that there could've been similar events in the very beginings of langauge. Notice that the K!ung people of africa speak a language that makes great use of 'bizzare' clicks and tweets, its entirely possible that something like that was the original language, and it was just replaced nearly everywhere. At a minimum, the K!ung click language shows that any sort of sounds could be the basis of a language.

Excellent points, and Basque isn't the only language isolate. There are several AmerInd languages that are isolates -- and more from other areas of the world.



Also, considering that chimps and other primates seem to have some sort of ability to communicate, while not having an actual language, we have too keep in mind that there might not even be a 'single' original language. A population of pre-humans spread throughout, say, east africa, might not have an actual language, and then the populations at the far ends of their geographic ranges might seperately 'cross the barrier' into language.

Although our ancestors didn't have Broca's area (the speech area) in the brain until 2 million years ago, other animals do communicate with each other using sound. Any vertebrate that lives in a pack or herd has community signals understood by others of its community.

And it's speculated that dinosaurs were also able to communicate with each other (sex, aggression, danger, predator (possibly types of predators), etc.)



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 08:40 AM
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Oh yes -- I enjoy conlanguages! I poked around Klingon for awhile (translated a sentence in Homer into Klingon as a joke once), read up on Ladaan (after having met Suzette Hayden Elgin), and looked at some others. Tried a tiny bit of Esperanto, too.


The O.G. of conlangers was St. Hildegaarde of Bingen, an Medieval nun and mystic who invented a secret language so she could talk to God without being overheard. Some of her students learnt it as well.

It was called "Lingua Ignota" which is Latin for "Unknown Tongue."


Wow! What a neat find! Thanks!



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 09:30 AM
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Interesting post. Recent archeological discoveries have now pushed back civilizations in both South and Central America to nearly the age of the Middle Eastern civilizations. The Mayan alphabet also appears to be older by at least 500 years older than previously thought. With recent genetic testing, they're now have fair certainty that Americas were inhabited as far back as 37,000 BCE. There are 3 distinct migrations into the Americas, one from Europe, one from Polynesia into South America and the last being from Asia some 13-16,000 years ago. One the many linguistic mysteries discovered when the Europeans came into contact with tribes in the Midwest is that some spoke a language that was very similar to Welsh. I believe that Graham Hancock is right, we are a single people throughout the world suffering from amnesia.



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 10:30 AM
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Wow, what a flurry of posts. One thing we should be careful of is associating a specific race/culture/people with a specific language, or even language family. It's very tempting to link the first language with an African language, or with another origins theory.

Think for instance of an archaeologist, a 1000 years from now, digging up the ancient U.S. She would undoutedly find a lot of writing, most of it English, but a lot of other lanugages as well. Along with this research, she would find bones of many different varieties of humans, descended from ancient Europe, Africa, Asia, etc. She would be hard pressed to identify the English language with a particular ethnic group. Now one probably could argue that the earliest human communities were not as heterogenous as they are now, but it's always good to be on guard against associating a particular variety of person with a specific language.

And just to reiterate my perspective noted earlier. It's not really possible to speak of the "oldest" language. About the only time we can cite the birth of a language is a Creole language. A Creole begins as a pidgin language, where two languages are roughly "mushed" together in order for the different language speakers to engage in commerce and other daily acitivites. A pidgeon of French, Vietnamese, and English formed during the Vietnam war, for example. Usually, pidgeons die off as soon as the social conditions that gave birth to them are gone. However, some pidgeons do survive, and grow into languages in their own right, with grammars and literatures. The Creoles found in Haiti, Jamaica, etc. are good examples of this. With a Creole we can give a somewhat accurate date on when it was "born."

However, with the more typical, historical languages, they all have ancient roots. French derives from Latin which derives from some old Italic language which derives from PIE. Modern English derives from Middle English, which derives from Old English, which derives from a Germanic language, which derives from PIE. As far as Indo-European languages are concerned, that's all the further we can push things back. Indeed, around 10,000 years is all we can push any linguistic history. Archaeologists can help us understand prehistoric culture, but we just don't have the evidence to say what languages they spoke.



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 10:52 AM
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Originally posted by pepsi78
I dont think people that lived in africa spoke a languege at first , only after they started to migrate from africa to asia they were sparks of civilisations but still primitive

But there were indications of culture and civilization in africa before the long march out of it. Homo sapiens himself evolved in africa, and its possible that language existed with one of this antecessors first. Once you get to the level of making relatively complex tools, you have a good likelyhood of an advanced brain and a language used to instruct new people on how to make those tools.


I say Hebrew because of its advanced qualities and influence on Greek and Aramiac languages foundations.

There is no way hebrew was the first language, if for no other reason than that its an 'advanced' language, that it already has a complex structure and large vocabulary. Hebrew is part of, if I recall correctly, the afro-semitic branch of languages, shared with arabic, egyptian, and other languages. There is nothing really indicating that these were the first languages. And certainly evidence for written hebrew far antedates other written languages.


gemwolf
Wouldn't the first language go hand in hand with the first "mankind"?

Oh certainly, I don't mean to suggest that Phyrgian is actually the first language.

if humans originated in Central Africa, wouldn't the oldest language be an African language

But, the problem is, the first languages in europe were all replaced by the Indo-European languages (except, of course, basque). THere's no reason to think that the first language, or even the first language family, surivived into modern times, or even came close. Like I noted, the K!ung language isn't like most other languages, it represents another radically different possiiblity in terms of language, presumably there are other completely unknown possibilities, and they've been wiped out.

or one of the other Niger-Congo languages?
[
If my understanding is correct, these are the Bantu language family? I think that that is generally understood as a 'new' language (relatively speaking of course, sort of like latin being new). The bantu speaking zulu migrated into south africa, and encounted the hottentots and bushmen there, who spoke and entirely different language and were aboriginal to the region, so I think that that itself might argue against the bantu languages as being the original language, or even a 'branch' of the 'language family' of the original langauge.

The earliest languages are probably lost to history.

If you consider that we can only just barely reconstruct the so called proto-indo-european language, and thats onyl because of the intense focus its received for a few generations now and the abundance of 'descendant languages' that exist to build the reconstruction with, then it becomes a great dissapointment to even consider the first language, or even the larger language family of the first language.


Byrd
Basque isn't the only language isolate

Oh yes, I didn't mean to say its the only isolate in teh world. Heck, sumerian is considered an isolate no?! And thats one of the languages some of us are considering the oldest effectively known language!
And of course, no one has ever even deciphered the Indus Valley-Harrapan script or even knows what language it was spoken with, and thats another one of those 'first written languages' (more or less).

Any vertebrate that lives in a pack or herd has community signals understood by others of its community.

An interesting idea that I heard once is that a critical step in language is recognizing that your own utterances can be understood by others or have an affect on them. So a wolf or a meerkat or a bird makes noise as a reaction against stimuli, and other members hear the sounds and are 'intelligent' enough to recognize and understand it. Or a chimp baby, lost in the grass (this was the example given), will cry out, the mother will hear it, recognize that its its child in distress, and go to save it, but doesn't understand enough to be able to give out a reassuring call to it to keep quite so as not to attract predators or to be quite.
So clearly even the idea of a first language is difficult enough, let alone ever knowing it.


crgintx
the many linguistic mysteries discovered when the Europeans came into contact with tribes in the Midwest is that some spoke a language that was very similar to Welsh

They beleived it was similar to welsh, and this probably played into their ideas that everyone everywhere started as caucasians (they thought the egyptians were caucasians, for example).


toromos
Now one probably could argue that the earliest human communities were not as heterogenous as they are now, but it's always good to be on guard against associating a particular variety of person with a specific language.

Indeed, even with reference again to Indo-European, the original idea behind its spread was that some tribe in central asia moved out from their center, conquering every civilization in its path and replacing the native peoples. But then people started to really realize that a language can spread without a people spreading. Indeed, there isn't much genetically connecting people in Italy with people in India, to the point that they're 'brothers' from a recent stock (though of course, all humans are descended from one original stock).



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 11:16 AM
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I have a language tree that I've posted before in onther thread but I can't find it. Looks like albanian is the oldest language.

external image

tried to resize image



[edit on 15-8-2006 by masqua]



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 11:36 AM
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Originally posted by Telos
I have a language tree that I've posted before in onther thread but I can't find it. Looks like albanian is the oldest language.


It cant be , when the tracs came in to east europe they splited up, and another branch was formed from it, the dacs, which are ansesters of albanians romanians and to other nations around east europe, tracs them selfs migrated from asia at first with a languege already owned before they migrated, the question is if the first languege evolved in asia or in africa.


[edit on 15-8-2006 by pepsi78]

removed pic



[edit on 15-8-2006 by masqua]



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 11:45 AM
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That tree, which is really neat, good find, indicates that armenian is the first language to split from the indo-european roots, not the first language. And lets keep in mind that that tree isn't necessarily correct. The indo-european langauge family, which that whole tree represents, is but a set of branches on the tree of all human language.

Here is a good illustration of that:


Source pages:
www.public.iastate.edu...

And, again, its not necessarily correct, but a nice set of descriptions anyway.



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 12:56 PM
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I think you misunderstood me. Armenian is the second language in the tree. I was talking about Albanian which it is the oldest known language, older than ancient grek and the rest



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 12:57 PM
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Modern archeology is very nearly become a religion. If some evidence doesn't fit the conventional wisdom, it is dismissed as a hoax or mistakenly identified. Why is it so hard to believe that there was both trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific trade and travel in ancient times. The story of a word-wide deluge is common to even the most remote desert peoples. Some how the Clovis style spearpoint design spread from North America to the rest of the world long before the rise of modern civilization. Within a hundred years, most modern shipwrecks will be disolved by corrosion but how will fuure scientist explain African diamonds in the Americas or American flora and fauna in Europe if there's a dark age casued by a world wide catastrophy? There will be no evidence of trans-oceanic shipping other than trade products. We're faced with mounting evidence that not only was trans-oceanic travel but trade as well between the Americas and the Egyptians and European civilization in ancient times. Within 200 years, the words o-kay and coca-cola are nearly universly recognized around the world. Try explaining that in a hundred years.



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 01:00 PM
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These trees are somewhat useful, but not a total picture of the history of languages. For example, they don't show the very strong influences French and Latin had in the modern English language, it's simply presented as a German offshoot.



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 01:05 PM
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Originally posted by pepsi78

Originally posted by Telos
I have a language tree that I've posted before in onther thread but I can't find it. Looks like albanian is the oldest language.


It cant be , when the tracs came in to east europe they splited up, and another branch was formed from it, the dacs, which are ansesters of albanians romanians and to other nations around east europe, tracs them selfs migrated from asia at first with a languege already owned before they migrated, the question is if the first languege evolved in asia or in africa.


[edit on 15-8-2006 by pepsi78]


Oh yes it can be my friend. You have wrong information. Albanians didn't come from nowhere. They always been there. Have you ever heard about Illyrians and especialy Pellasgians? What you're saying doesn't make any sense even languagewise. Nations in East Europe have nothing in common with Albania and albanians. Romanians? Huh??? Their language is latin my friend and the rest of East Europe are mostly from slavic group. Tracs are younger then Albanians in those lands. Remember pellasgians !!!



[edit on 15-8-2006 by Telos]





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