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How human language has (not) evolved

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From Mark Pagel at New Scientist:

If H. sapiens has always had language, could other extinct human species have had it too? Some believe that Neanderthals did – which would imply we both inherited it from our common ancestor some 500,000 or more years ago. This theory is consistent with the discovery that FOXP2, a gene that is essential to speech, is identical at two key positions in humans and Neanderthals but different in chimpanzees. But a single gene is not enough to explain language. And recent genetic evidence shows that the Neanderthal brain regulated its version of FOXP2 differently.What’s more, language is inherently symbolic – sounds stand for words that stand for real objects and actions. But there is … More.

… there is a paywall. Doubtless interesting info on the fact that humans have always had language, but the best explanation is then that language did not evolve.

But that raises some questions well beyond the remit of pop science.

As Michael Denton puts it,

Yet however it is derived during development, there is no doubt that a unique deep structure underlies the languages of all members of our species. It is because of the same underlying deep structure that we can speak the language of the San Bushman or an Australian aborigine, and they in turn can speak English. The fact that all modern humans, despite their long “evolutionary separation” — some modern races such as the San of the Kalahari and the Australian aborigines have been separated by perhaps 400,000 years of independent evolution — can learn each other’s languages implies that this deep grammar must have remained unchanged since all modern humans (African and non-African) diverged from their last common African ancestor, at least 200,000 years ago.

That’s a hard one to talk around.

See also: Michael Denton on the discontinuity of nature

and

Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness

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3 Replies to “How human language has (not) evolved

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    of note on FOXP2:

    Richard Dawkins has claimed in the past that the FOXP2 gene was among ‘the most compelling evidences’ for establishing that humans evolved from monkeys, yet, as with all the other evidences offered by Darwinists, once the FOXP2 gene was critically analyzed it fell completely apart as any sort of convincing proof for human evolution:

    Dawkins Best Evidence (FOXP2 gene) Refuted – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfFZ8lCn5uU

    Dr. Giem has a lecture up on the FOXP2 fallacy:

    FOXP2 and Family Trees 5-23-2015 by Paul Giem – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arSkMn5UwGM

    Even the Darwinist who authored the following paper admitted that the relationship between genetic changes and phenotypic changes is, even for FOXP2, ‘tenuous’,,

    Human brain evolution: From gene discovery to phenotype discovery – Todd M. Preuss – February 2012
    Excerpt: It is now clear that the genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees are far more extensive than previously thought; their genomes are not 98% or 99% identical.,,,
    ,,our understanding of the relationship between genetic changes and phenotypic changes is tenuous. This is true even for the most intensively studied gene, FOXP2,,
    In part, the difficulty of connecting genes to phenotypes reflects our generally poor knowledge of human phenotypic specializations, as well as the difficulty of interpreting the consequences of genetic changes in species that are not amenable to invasive research.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/10.....9.full.pdf

  2. 2
    Robert Byers says:

    This has come up before. I say there is only human thought/intelligence going on in our heads. Language is a primitive use of a small number of sounds to express our thoughts. Our language is only in a spectrum more then animals. The difference is intelligence. Our memory organizes our language with no more effort then organizing our walking and not walking into each other.
    In fact language doesn’t exist. just thoughts and sounds thereto. no different then your cat. Your cat is just dumb and has no reflective life.
    they do speak less then they would however.

  3. 3
    mahuna says:

    There is/was a tribe of black Africans living on the north coast of South America composed of individual slaves who had escaped from Spanish owners. They came from a variety of West African tribes and did not share any African language. So they invented their own.

    The composite language worked OK, but the big improvement came from their children. The children of the polyglot Africans NATURALLY invented the details of grammar and syntax for the composite language of their parents. It quickly became a normal human language, just like languages that had been in constant use for a thousand years.

    Clearly human babies are born eager to learn how to Speak. First to their mother and father, and then to their brothers and sisters and playmates. They NEED to be talked to, even while they can’t guess what the words mean. They clearly KNOW it’s part of being Human.

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