ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Words, Words, Words: The Evolution of Language

Updated on October 10, 2014

On my drive home today, I had an arbitrary epiphany. It might have been the music I was listening to, or a random stray thought, but it kicked off a firestorm in my head. As an English Major, maybe I should have come to the realization earlier, but coming to it now, it completely blew my mind. My epiphany was about the evolution of language.

My epiphany is how language began. In history classes, a lot of it at least touches on when human beings developed a written language, and maybe those who study the evolution of humanity, in its many disciplines, might get a taste as to going back further. I might seem like I’m rambling, and maybe I am, but it is mind-boggling to think about.

In the modern era, I think we take language for granted. Even the parents of toddlers, fascinated with their child’s acquisition of language from the world around them, soaking it up like a sponge, don’t fully comprehend the wonder by which every single human being lives their lives today. I’m not particularly studying language itself, and I feel like if I did, it would be added to the rest of my nerdy obsessions. However, the process of building language is now, in my mind, simply astonishing.

How did spoken language develop? Obviously with people, and more than likely in family groups, but a group of people with their own language, possibly independently developed from any other group that they may come across. We are, for the most part, all at least aware of cave paintings and their depictions. But that would mean that the people that drew those pictures were part of a group that the pictures all had the same meaning as one another. Correlating a picture to a word that everyone agreed to mean the same thing, and the word would not have any other meanings, except to the one that is connected to that particular picture.

Now we have a word with a picture. We have vocal chords, more sophisticated than the ones that were initially inherited in our development. To specify that a certain sound had meaning, and that sound with another sound meant something else. Now tying in a sound to a word, whose meaning is framed in a picture? How did that happen? One group of people agreed that a word and a sound would mean the same thing, so if that word was spoken, anyone who heard it in the group would have the same meaning of the word as someone else in the group.

That leaves us with a sound that’s meaning is tied to one word, and only that one, and that word/sound/meaning could be rendered as a picture for everyone to see and to understand. All these different groups of people went through this development, establishing a word and sound to mean something together, and sometimes the word was similar in one group as in another, despite having no connection between the groups, even though the meaning of the word is the same, what the word represents matches up in one language to another.

Then we have the written language. The oral conveyance of meaning is essential, but doesn’t provide as much permanence as might be needed. There is one group or town or city, trading with another, bartering and selling goods keeping a record of the transaction. With a vocal language developed and established, interacting with a separate group, whose local language might have enough similarity to spark some understanding, but enough difference that clarity might not be guaranteed. So what one party received from another in exchange for something else is set.

The variation of languages that exists today is staggering, and there are probably more on this Earth than we have discovered. If we encompass the whole of the cosmos, and the connection of the languages that exist out there that may or may not line up with even one of our own, it is very much an overwhelming notion. Written language only accounts for a small portion of our development, about 7,000 to 10,000 years (I might be wrong, feel free to correct me) but civilizations (as anthropology or history might define them) have existed for far longer.

Language is a paradox of connection and disconnection at the same time. It builds worlds, and tears nations apart. One might say that money rules the world, and they would probably be right, but we would be unable to give currency meaning if we hadn’t developed the concept in the first place. Language can end wars or start new ones, save lives or take them. Language rules us all.

The pen really is mightier than the sword.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)