Origin of language  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The origin of language, known in linguistics as glottogony, a technical term formed from the Greek roots of the same words, refers to the acquisition of the ability to use language by an earlier stage in the evolution of mankind. The term and the existence of the topic presume that Homo sapiens evolved from some non-human ancestor who did not possess language capabilities.

History of research

Late 18th to early 19th century European scholarship assumed that the languages of the world reflected various stages in the development from primitive to advanced speech, culminating in the Persian language, seen as the most advanced. Modern linguistics does not begin until the late 18th century, and the Romantic or animist theses of Johann Gottfried Herder and Johann Christoph Adelung remained influential well into the 19th century. The question of language origins seemed inaccessible to methodical approaches, and in 1866 the Linguistic Society of Paris famously banned all discussion of the origin of language, deeming it to be an unanswerable problem. An increasingly systematic approach to historical linguistics developed in the course of the 19th century, reaching its culmination in the Neogrammarian school of Karl Brugmann and others. However, scholarly interest in the question of the origin of language has only gradually been rekindled from the 1950s on (and then controversially) with ideas such as Universal grammar, mass comparison and glottochronology. The "origin of language" as a subject in its own right emerged out of studies in neurolinguistics, psycholinguistics and human evolution. The Linguistic Bibliography introduced "Origin of language" as a separate heading in 1988, as a sub-topic of psycholinguistics. Dedicated research institutes of evolutionary linguistics are a recent phenomenon, emerging only in the 1990s.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Origin of language" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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