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Lecture 4.Proto-Human languages

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The signal is the message

Such thoughts are quite speculative – and they are also, in some sense, irrelevant. The detection of an alien civilization will certainly be the biggest news story of all time. And it will be a lasting story, both because researchers will continue searching for the message contained within the signal and because it will heighten the hunt for other signals. But to paraphrase Marshall McCluhan, the signal is the message. For a million years, humans have lived on this planet surrounded by a bubble of isolation. We have seen the Universe, like a vast and intricate construction, stretching billions of light-years in all directions. We have not, as yet, found any inhabitants.

But if SETI someday becomes a discovery, rather than an experiment, the bubble will burst, and we will suddenly share the cosmic stage with myriad others. It is hard to imagine a greater metamorphosis.

References

· Botha, R. and C. Knight (2009). The Prehistory of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199545872.

· Botha, R and C. Knight (2009). The Cradle of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199545858.

· Dunbar, R.I.M. (1996). Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-17396-9.

· Hauser, Marc D.; Chomsky, Noam; Fitch, W. Tecumseh (2002). "The faculty of language: What is it, who has it, and how did it evolve?". Science 298 (5598): 1569–1579. doi:10.1126/science.298.5598.1569. PMID 12446899.

· Kenneally, Christine (2007). The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language. New York: Viking.

· Knight, C., M. Studdert-Kennedy and J. R. Hurford (eds), 2000. The Evolutionary Emergence of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

· Logan, Robert. (2007). The Extended Mind: The Emergence of Language, the Human Mind and Culture. Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press.

· Pinker, Steven (2000). The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics. ISBN 0-060-95833-2.

· Pollick, Amy. S and Frans B.M. de Waal (2007). "Ape gestures and language evolution." [1] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104.19, 8184–8189. (Also: Popular summary by Liz Williams, "Human language born from ape gestures", Cosmos, May 1, 2007.)

· Burrow, T. (2001), Sanskrit language, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 8120817672

· Chatterji, Suniti Kumar (1960), Indo-Aryan and Hindi, Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay

· Masica, Colin (1991), The Indo-Aryan Languages, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521299442, http://books.google.com/?id=J3RSHWePhXwC




· Pollock, Sheldon I. (2006), The language of the gods in the world of men: Sanskrit, culture, and power in premodern India, University of California Press, ISBN 9780520245006

Introduction.

Кел-хэвете-и хакункэхла, Кала-ипалха-ка на ветэ, Ся-да а-ка ейяэлэ, Яко пеле туба вете. Язык - это река времни, Но по ней пройти может только тот, Кто не боится глубокой воды. (Стих на ностратическом праязыке)

Языковеды во все времена по-разному доказывали, что утверждение Библии о былом единстве языков - не метафора. Наиболее убедительно это было сделано уже в наше время. В начале ХХ века итальянский филолог Альфред Тромбетти (1866-1929) выдвинул всесторонне обоснованную концепцию моногенеза языков, то есть их единого происхождения. Практически одновременно с ним датчанин ХольгерПедерсен (1867-1953) выдвинул гипотезу родства индоевропейских, семито-хамитских, уральских, алтайских и ряда других языков.

Примерно в то же время набрало силу "новое учение о языке" советского академика Н. Я. Марра (1864-1934), где вся лексика многочисленных народов выводилась из четырех первоэлементов: "сал", "бер", "йон", "рош" [?!]. В 1926 году вышла в свет его статья "От шумеров и хеттов к палеоазиатам", где показывается общность происхождения слова "женщина" (а также "вода" и, далее, "север") как в южных месопотамских и малоазиатских языках, так и в северных палеоазиатских (чукотский, эскимосский, юкагирский языки).



В середине 20 в. наибольшую популярность получила "ностратическая" (термин Педерсена), или сибиро-европейская (термин советских лингвистов), теория; в ней идея Праязыка доказывалась на основе скрупулезного анализа крупных языковых семей. (На эту тему было опубликовано несколько выпусков сравнительного словаря рано погибшего ученого В.М.Иллича-Свитыча.)

Выдающийся компаративист С.А. Старостин довольно убедительно показал наличие общих корней у ностратической, афразийской и сино-кавказскоймакросемей. Также он вместе с И.И. Пейросом приводят примеры, доказывающие существование связей между ностратической и сино-кавказскоймакросемьями, с одной стороны, и австрическоймакросемьей - с другой.

В.В. Шеворошкин представляет свидетельства связей между ностратической, сино-кавказской, америндской, индо-тихоокеанскоймакросемьями, а также австралийской семьей. Кроме того, он совместно с Марком Кайзером отмечает сходства ностратических языков с нигеро-кордофанскими и нило-сахарскими языками. В.В. Шеворошкин и чешский лингвист Вацлав Блажек на основе всех подобных сопоставлений приходят к выводу, что все ныне существующие языки хотя бы отдаленно родственны друг другу [не анализировались уникальные "щёлкающие" койсанские языки].

Недавно американские лингвисты подвергли компьютерной обработке данные по всем языкам Земли (причем исходными были взяты индейские языки), касающихся жизненно важных понятий. Компьютер выдал однозначный ответ: все языки без исключения имеют общий лексический базис. Восстановлением этой общей палеолексики занимается "глобальная компаративистика" [а ее описанием - "всемирная этимология" - см. ниже].

A proto-language in the tree model of sociolinguistics is a common ancestor of the languages that form a family. Occasionally, the German term Ursprache: (Ur- "primordial"первобытный and Sprache "language") is used instead.

Often the proto-language is not known directly. In such cases, it may be reconstructed by comparing different members of the language family through the comparative method. The level of completeness of the reconstruction achieved varies, depending on how complete the evidence is from the descendant languages and on the quality of the effort of the linguists working on it. Some of the many unattested (неподтвержденные) proto-languages for which reconstructions have been devised are Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Uralic, and Proto-Dravidian.

In other cases, the proto-language is attested in surviving texts. For example, Latin is the proto-language of the Romance language family, which includes such modern languages as French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish. Likewise, Proto-Norse, the ancestor of the modern Scandinavian languages, is attested, albeit in fragmentary form, in ancient runic inscriptions. Although there are no very early Indo-Aryan inscriptions, the Indo-Aryan languages of modern India all go back to Vedic Sanskrit (or dialects very closely related to it), which has been preserved in texts accurately handed down by parallel oral and written traditions for many centuries.

The earliest known to the scientists are the Sumerian and the Egyptian languages.The termsproto-sapiens, proto-world, etc.designate a hypothetical most recent common ancestor of all the world's languages.

The concept of "proto-human" presupposes linguisticmonogenesiswhich means that all languages derived from a single ancestral language, sometimes referred to as Proto-World, as opposed to the view that language may have evolved independently on more than one occasion. If the notion of a "Proto-Human" language is accepted, its date may be set anywhere between 200,000 years ago (the age of Homo sapiens) and 50,000 years ago, the age of behavioral modernity.Behavioralmodernity is a term used in anthropology, and sociology to refer to a set of features that distinguish present day humans and their recent ancestors from those living primates and extinct hominid species.

There arescholarswho do not admita proto-world language. The terms Proto-World and Proto-Human are in the occasional free use. Merritt Ruhlen, for example, used the term Proto-Sapiens.

The first serious scientific attempt to establish the reality of monogenesis was that of Alfredo Trombetti, an Italian linguist active in the early 20th century. In his book L'unitàd'originedellinguaggio(1905) Trombetti estimated that the common ancestor of existing languages had been spoken between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.

Monogenesis was dismissed by many linguists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the doctrine of the polygenesis of the human races and their languages held the ascendancy (Saussure 1916).Linguistic polygenesis treats the world's language families as independent developments out of a proto-linguistic form of communication used by archaic Homo sapiens.

The best-known supporter of monogenesis in America in the mid-20th century was Morris Swadesh.Any language changes over centuries (consider, for example, the changes in English since the Middle Ages), and some languages diverge and become separate dialects or languages that still belong to the same language family1955. (See his work:"Towards greater accuracy in lexicostatistic dating", International Journal of American Linguistics, 1955).

Joseph Greenberg(1915 –2001) was a prominent and controversial American linguist, principally known for his work in two areas, linguistic typology and the genetic classification of languages. Producing a series of large-scale classifications of the world's languages he stated that the ultimate goal is a comprehensive classification of what is very likely a single language family.

It is hardly probable or even sharply disputed whether the earliest homo sapiens had a fully developed language. Some scholars link the language emergence to the development ofbehavioral modernity towards the end of the Middle Paleolithic or at the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic, roughly 50,000 years ago,i.e. with the appearance of modern man or Cro-Magnon.Behavioral modernityis a term used in anthropology, archeology and sociology to refer to a set of traits that distinguish present day humans and their recent ancestors from both living primates and other extinct hominid lineages. It is the point at which Homo sapiens began to demonstrate a reliance on symbolic thought and to express cultural creativity. These developments are often thought to be associated with the origin of language.

The relatively few linguists who have discussed the subject disagree on how much can be known of the ancestor language. A conservative position, taken by Lyle Campbell, is that it would have shared the "design features" of known human languages, such as grammar, defined as "fixed or preferred sequences of linguistic elements", and recursion, defined as "clauses embedded in other clauses", but that beyond this nothing can be known of it (Campbell and Poser 2008). Less conservative linguists have advanced proposals on the vocabulary and syntax of the ancestor language.

A fairly large number of words have been tentatively traced back to the ancestor language, based on the occurrence of similar sound-and-meaning forms in languages across the globe. The best-known vocabulary list is that of John Bengtson and Merritt Ruhlen (1994), who identifysome "global etymologies". The following table, adapted from Ruhlen lists a selection of these forms.


ku = 'who'

ma = 'what'

pal = 'two'

akwa = 'water'

tik = 'finger'

kanV = 'arm'

boko = 'arm'

buŋku = 'knee'

sum = 'hair'

putV = 'vulva'

čuna = 'nose, smell'


Many linguists reject the methods used to determine these forms and question the very possibility of tracing language elements so far back into the past. According to Lyle Campbell, the search for global etymologies is at best a hopeless waste of time, at worst an embarrassment to linguistics as a discipline.

Darwin's "Musical Protolanguage" (hypothesis)

Darwin's model of the phylogenesis of the language faculty, like most models today, posits that different aspects of language were acquired sequentially, in a particular order, and under the influence of distinguishable selection pressures. The hypothetical systems characterized by each addition can be termed "protolanguages". Darwin's first hypothetical stage in the procession from an ape-like ancestor to modern humans was a greater development of proto-human cognition. The mental powers in some early pro'genitor (предок) of man must have been more highly developed than in any existing ape, before even the most imperfect form of speech could have come into use. He elsewhere suggests that both social and technological factors may have driven this increase in cognitive power.

Darwin also outlines the crucial second step - musical protolanguage. Having noted multiple similarities with birdsong, he argues that vocal imitation, was driven by sexual selectionin producing true musical cadences, that is in singing. He suggests that this musical proto-language would have been used in both courtship and territoriality (as a challenge to rivals), as well as in expressing emotions like love, jealousy, and triumph.

The crucial remaining question is how emotionally-expressive musical proto-language made the transition to true meaningful language — how, in Humboldt's words, humans became "a singing creature, only associating thoughts with the tones" (Humboldt, 1836). This leap, from non-propositional song to propositionally-meaningful speech, remains the greatest explanatory challenge for all musical protolanguage theories. Darwinsuggests that articulate language "owes its origins to the imitation and modification, aided by signs and gestures, of various natural sounds, the voices of other animals, and man's own instinctive cries". Darwin thus embraces all three of the major leading theories of word origins of his contemporaries.

“Once,according to Darvin, proto-humans had the capacity to imitate vocally, and combine such signals with meanings, any source of word forms and meanings would suffice, including onomato'poeia (an imitated roar for "lion", or "whoosh" for wind), and controlled imitation of human emotional vocalizations (mock laughter for "play" or "happiness"). The attachment of specific and flexible meanings to vocalizations required only that some unusually wise ape-like animal should have thought of imitating the growl of a beast of prey … And this would have been a first step in the formation of a language.

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