Language origin

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The articles language origin and language development overlap thematically. Help me to better differentiate or merge the articles (→  instructions ) . To do this, take part in the relevant redundancy discussion . Please remove this module only after the redundancy has been completely processed and do not forget to include the relevant entry on the redundancy discussion page{{ Done | 1 = ~~~~}}to mark. NessaT. ( Discussion ) 11:27, Oct 15, 2013 (CEST)

The origin of language (also glottogony ) in palaeolinguistics is the period of time in which people learned to articulate themselves linguistically due to the lack of empirical prerequisites .

The theoretical explanations regarding the origin of language and the type of process that took place differ considerably. Results of the zoosemiotics , the comparisons between human languages and animal languages provides, form a basis of the respective theories and are also the subject of biolinguistics .

The representatives of the natural sound theory and the theory of imitation disagree about the type of process . The latter assume that people initially imitated sounds ( onomatopoeic approach ) in order to express themselves. The natural sound theorists assume that the human species originally only used exclamation words .

The assumption that all human languages ​​have a common origin in a single source language is called monoglottogenesis (or monogenesis) and implies the presumption of a single proto-world language . The polygenesis turn assumes that several languages have formed at different times and in different places in the world and disseminated. In this way, original languages emerged from which today's languages ​​emerged .

Theories on the origin of language

Many great thinkers have grappled with theories about the origin of language. These include: B. Johann Gottfried Herder ( On the Origin of Language, 1772), Jacob Grimm ( On the Origin of Language, 1851), Hajim Steinthal ( The Origin of Language in Connection with the Last Questions of All Knowledge, Berlin 1851), Lazarus Geiger ( The Origin of Language, 1869) or Ludwig Noiré ( The Origin of Language, 1877).

Herder took an onomatopoeic ( onomatopoeic ) approach that was popular for a long time. For Jacob Grimm, the most important question was “whether we can see language as something created or uncreated. If language was created by God, its first origin is completely opaque to us. But if it is uncreated, formed by man himself, then one can also deal with this question as a linguist. "

Friedrich Max Müller rejected the onomatopoeic and interjectional theories on the origin of language and ironically called them the "bog-woof theory and pah-pah theory". Ernst Cassirer rejected the theories as speculative.

Holistic language genesis theory

The “Holistic Language Genesis Theory ”, also known as the complexity-before-simplicity approach , is a theory of the evolutionary origin of human language .

It was founded in 1922 by Otto Jespersen and, in contrast to the previously existing theories of language genesis , assumes that language originally had no recognizable grammatical system or morphemes , i.e. it lacked the compositionality typical of today's human language .

Instead, it is assumed that language originally consisted of utterances that encompass a complete situation, such as "Come on, let's hunt mammoths ". This utterance would not then suggest that the utterance for "Come on, let's go hunt antelopes " contains in any way similar components. According to this linguistic theory, both utterances are completely unique and cannot be broken down into smaller units.

Jespersen suspects that the early human proto-language were chants , which over time acquired components of meaning that became more and more sophisticated. By associating certain chants with their singers or with places etc. The proper names emerge from this as the first word category, then onomatopoeia and finally completely abstract terms through transfers, sound shifts and other processes of change in both the environment and the language.

Another holistic approach is advocated by the American linguist Alison Wray : According to this, the holistic utterances (whether as words or chants remains unnamed and is irrelevant) were preserved for a long time and prevented the emergence of real words because they were too specific and therefore not were handed down. Instead, systematic structures developed in the language that were initially only able to express very general terms (presumably verbs). Since the holistic system was self-contained, it took a very long time for man to replace it with systematic language. This system has the great advantage of explaining why human civilization only appeared so late in the biological history of Homo sapiens and why there was a sudden advance in human evolution with the beginning of sedentarism . However, this can also be explained by the phenomenon of sedentariness itself and many other approaches. However, it cannot be ruled out that language plays an elementary role in the foundation of historical civilization . Wray justifies the emergence of a holistic language with the observation of holistic utterances in primates , but fails to provide evidence of the holistic nature of primatic communication systems.

The holistic theories of language genesis are opposed to the "constructivist theories of language genesis".

Criticism of speculations about the origin of the language

Again and again there was criticism that the philosophical and linguistic treatises on the origin of language were purely speculative, since there was a fundamental lack of means to test hypotheses. The “spell” pronounced by the Société de Linguistique de Paris in 1866 has become famous ; she pointed out that there was no empirically verifiable evidence of the origin of language.

Experiments and events

In human history, experiments or chance events are described in which children grew up without language education. These experiments and events potentially make it possible to investigate natural language acquisition and thus to draw conclusions about the language's origin. See in particular the Kaspar Hauser experiment and Wolfskind .

The alleged experiments of Emperor Friedrich II in the 13th century are well known. He is said to have isolated newborn children in order to fathom the original language of mankind.

See also


  • Louis-Jean Boë et al .: Which way to the dawn of speech? Reanalyzing half a century of debates and data in light of speech science. Review in: Science Advances. Volume 5, No. 12, 2019, eaaw3916, doi: 10.1126 / sciadv.aaw3916 ( Open Access Journal ).
  • Wolfgang Böhme (Ed.): Evolution and Language. About creation u. Essence of language. Herrenalber Texte 66. Evangelical Academy Baden, Karlsruhe 1985, ISBN 3-88450-066-X .
  • Rafaela von Bredow , Johann Grolle: “What is a 'what'?” In: Der Spiegel. Hamburg, October 21, 2002, pp. 223-228; Contribution to the cover story The beginning was the word - How humans invented language and thus became humans.
  • Gyula Décsy: Language origin research. Volume 1: Introduction and Phonogenesis, Paleophonetics. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1977, ISBN 3-447-01861-5 .
  • Joachim Gessinger, Wolfert von Rahden (ed.): Theories of the origin of language. de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1989, ISBN 3-11-010189-0 .
  • Helmut Glück (Ed.), With the collaboration of Friederike Schmöe : Metzler Lexikon Sprache. 3rd, revised edition. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2005, ISBN 3-476-02056-8 .
  • Eric H. Lenneberg : Biological Foundations of Language. 3. Edition. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-518-27817-7 .
  • Ph. Lieberman: On the Origins of Language. An Introduction to the Evolution of Human Speech. 1975.
  • Roger Liebi : Origin and Development of Languages ​​- Linguistics versus Evolution. 3. Edition. Holzgerlingen 2007, ISBN 3-7751-4030-1 .
  • Peter Macneilage : The Origin of Speech. Oxford Studies in the Evolution of Language. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2008, ISBN 0-19-923650-X .
  • Horst M. Müller: Language and Evolution. Basics of evolution and approaches to evolutionary linguistics. W. de Gruyter, Berlin 1990, ISBN 978-3110110418 .
  • Bernhard Rosenkranz: The Origin of Language. A linguistic-anthropological attempt. 2nd Edition. Winter, Heidelberg 1971, ISBN 3-533-02167-X .
  • Ilse Schwidetzky (Ed.): About the evolution of language. Anatomy, behavioral research, linguistics, anthropology. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1973, ISBN 3-10-820101-8 .
  • Gerald Traufetter: Voices from the Stone Age. In: Der Spiegel , Hamburg, October 21, 2002, pp. 218–222; Contribution to the cover story The beginning was the word - How humans invented language and thus became humans.

Web links

Wiktionary: Language origin  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Otto Jespersen: The language, its nature, development and origin. Winter, Heidelberg 1925, chapter: The emergence of the language , p. 401 ff. (English original 1922).
  2. ^ JH Stam: Inquiries into the origins of language. New York 1976, p. 255.
  3. ^ Hubert Houben: Kaiser Friedrich II. (1194-1250). Ruler, man, myth. Stuttgart 2008, pp. 144f.