Sunday, June 29, 2014

Where did human language come from?

Here is an interesting little article about how human language might have developed. Actually, I don't think these researchers are on the right track (moving toward a right or correct answer).  But this article helps to show how mysterious the origins and nature of human language are.  We use it every day and we often don't think about where it came from or what it really can and cannot do.

The article:

http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/human-language-deep-origins-0611

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

syntax - basically this means sentence structure or how words are arranged to make sentences

amplifies - makes it bigger or larger or stronger

hypothesis - this is a theory or guess as to why something happened or exists

birdsong - the songs birds sing

primates - monkeys

an endangered primate - a monkey that seems to be dying out

vocalize - use it's voice to make sounds. I found something on youtube about the silvery gibbon vocalizing:


signal territory - to indicate through sound that a certain territory belongs to him

a mere curiosity - something that is just strange; here they are saying this is not just unusual or strange behavior but a possible clue or key to understanding the evolution of human langauge

a clue - a clue points to something that will help to solve a mystery

communication modes - methods of communicating

derived - got

melodic - the melody part, the part with a rhythm

pragmatic - useful

fused - joined

finite - limited

unbounded - no limits to what can be expressed

antecedents - something that came before

integration - when things come together; the opposite of segregation - when things are kept apart

mutable structure - changeable structure

to reside - to live

a linguistic phenomenon - something that happens in language

to be embedded - to be placed

anti - this means against

adjacency - nearness

discrete - separate

it bolsters our case - it makes our argument or theory stronger

something novel - something new

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