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Do humans speak a universal language without knowing it?

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With all this talk of language, what with Tom Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech coming out, here’s an interesting new approach:

From Sarah Knapton at Telegraph:

The discovery challenges the fundamental principles of linguistics, which state that languages grow up independently of each other, with no intrinsic meaning in the noises which form words.

But research which looked into several thousand languages showed that for basic concepts, such as body parts, family relationships or aspects of the natural world, there are common sounds – as if concepts that are important to the human experience somehow trigger universal verbalisations.

The study found, that in most languages, the word for ‘nose’ is likely to include the sounds ‘neh’ or the ‘oo’ sound, as in ‘ooze.’More.

Of course that doesn’t mean all these languages are descended from an original language. It’s more like convergent evolution: Similarity does not demonstrate ancestry apart from other evidence. In this case, it appear more likely that the languages cluster around a common subject or experience to be described.

See also: Scientific American: Chomsky largely overturned

Tom Wolfe on how speech let humans rule planet. Yet no one has any idea how language started.


Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness

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Let's be reasonable about this. Every single human alive on Earth is related to every other human. Our great-great-grandparents lived together in the same manpack. When a young man went over the next hill with the girl of his dreams, he (and she) already knew how to TALK. And so they taught a version of their parents' language to their own children. Never in the history of humanity (after The Beginning) did a group of humans appear POOF! without ancestors. So what we see around the world are local dialects, more or less divergent from an original core. We can probably never reconstruct what the original core was, but I still believe that babies MUST have a pre-wired language already in their tiny little brains before they're born. For it's clear that babies can THINK before they come out to see the rest of us. And if they can think, they need WORDS. After they're born, babies of course work VERY hard every day on trying to learn their parents' language. And when Junior (or Junioretta) starts to speak, it is celebrated as an achievement rivaled only by the day he or she first walks upright on 2 legs. mahuna
With all this talk of language, what with Tom Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech coming out, here’s an interesting new approach:
That's not really a new approach; the idea of a universal language (or language universals) is precisely what Chomsky is famous for. "The most famous proponent of the idea of language universals is Noam Chomsky..." http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/08/mit-claims-to-have-found-a-language-universal-that-ties-all-languages-together/ goodusername

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