The evolution of language

Published:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

The Charles Darwinian Theory of evolution bases its argument on the evolution of man on the following three principals. The first is the principle of fight for existence, the principle of natural selection and the variation in the complexity and the genes of the people living in a particular ecological setting. Life at the moment is totally different from the life that Charles Darwin was talking about. Life is a matter of chance.

Genetics and Evolution of Language

It is not easy to understand language as its processes in the brain are so complex. Several parts of the brain are directly involved in the processing of information into speech and in the interpretation of syntax. Some of the factors that affect the faculty of language includes the genes. However much certain scientists argue against this, there are seemed to have been a selection that naturally selected a particular gene to have a stronger linguistic ability than the others. The human brain is a very essential in human language and communication. On the left hemisphere of the brain is a very specific position that is responsible for the development of speech. According to Chomsky, language is a neural organ whose site is that little part of the hemisphere that is responsible for the very specific structures of human language” He also claims that the nature of the brain of the human being has functions that are very discrete and in a specific part of the human brain and as such, it can be isolated in those parts. According to Fisher and Marcus, “Language is a rich computational system that computation system that simultaneously coordinates syntactic, semantic, phonological and pragmatic representations with each other, motor and sensory systems, and both the speaker’s and listener’s knowledge of the world. As such, tracing the generic knowledge of knowledge will require an understanding of a great number of sensory, motor and cognitive systems, of how they have changed individually, and of how the interaction between them have evolved” (Fisher and Marcus, 2006)

The comparison between the brain and the generic completion that exists between the Chimpanzee and that of the human beings is a very key step in the determination of the evolution of language and the understanding of language on its own. The Genome of the two have been completed and this is not however the ultimate point. The study of the genotype mapping to the phenotype is key in the determining the relation of inheritance and language. Language like any other character has to deal with the fact that the interactions between the genes and the environment can result into an effect in the genetic complexity of any being. Factors such as the way the genes are arranged, their multiplicity, deletion or duplication may result into a change in the language capability of different animals. The genomes of the humans and the chimpanzees are affected by insertions and substitutions. Insertions and deletions result into a 3% difference in the genetic arrangement and characteristics of the two animals. Substitutions result into 1.23% difference of these traits. It results into about thirty five million alterations in a single copy of a site on the genomes (Lieberman, 1984) Substitutions alter the structures of the proteins as and the enzymes while the insertions and deletions affect the factors of transcription. These occurred as a result of the evolution of the modern man from the Chimpanzees. As a result, speech and language as one of the characteristics of human beings were greatly affected.

The evolution in the neural genes of the Chimpanzees and the humans seems to have accelerated so much. However, research shows that there the heats and the livers of these two animals are totally quite different. It can be explained that there exists a very strong stabilization of the neural tissues much more than any other tissue or parts of the body. The changes in the genomes might have totally affected the speech. However, we should look at the most specific gene changes that might have caused a change in the language through the ages. The genes that might have been most influential in the creation of the difference in the language and its evolution are the genes that are related to the determination of the brain size. Fisher and Marcus say that, “In our view the honing of traits such as language probably depended not just on increased “raw materials” in the form of a more ample cortex, but also on more specific modification of particular neural pathways” (Fisher and Marcus, 2006).

The language gene called the FOXP2 gene is responsible for the complex formation of the human cognitive ability, motor and syntax interpretation and development. The gene is believed to have undergone a number of mutations resulting into the formation of the cortex that makes cortical and sub cortical systems have the ability to learn. The mutations also resulted into the synchronization of the cognitive pattern generators and the motor. All the processes that includes dancing, walking and mate selection may have had a part in the evolution of language and a brain that is capable of interpreting and analyzing language (Lieberman, 2006)

Another genetic study to determine the language acquisition, development or impairedness is the twin studies. The study helps to understand if there is any way that the genetics and environmental factors are factors that might have resulted into the evolution of language. The comparison in this case is on the two types of twins, the fraternal and the identical twins. The expectation of this study is that the fraternal babies would have a less similar linguistics than the identical twins. The expectation is due to the fact that the DNA of fraternal twins is only similar to a percentage of 50% while that of identical twins is almost 100% similar. A research carried out by Stromswold on ten twins showed that the concordance rates that existed in fraternal twins was much less than the rates for the identical twins. The identical twins were found to share several spoken and written disorders of linguistics as compared to fraternal twins. The percentage of this result was 90%. It indicated that only 10% of this study was not true. The study shows that the different people with different genetic completions, traits or genomes have different behaviors that come up as a result of these DNAs. Similar DNAs results into the exhibition of similar character traits as a result of very similar genetic completions. Therefore, for language as one of the traits that are affected by the genetic variations, we can see the difference that exists between the primates like the chimpanzees and the modern human beings. The DNAs of the Neanderthal man and the modern man are so different as a result of the discussed reasons of insertion (replication) or deletion and substitution. Therefore it can be proved biologically that there was evolution in the language of the humans as a result of the changes in the DNAs and the RNAs.

Anatomy and Evolution

The anatomy that is used in the production of speech has been used by several people and scholars to try and make it clear the understanding of the evolution of speech. Important and worth noting point is the fact that the evolution of the language that is used now has a lot to do with the evolution of speech. It is clear to everyone that vocal communication is an important part to pass a message too people. Several parts of the anatomy of the human beings is used in the production of speech and in language or linguistics. An example is the oral and the pharyngeal cavities that contract and relax in a rhythmic manner to cause sound production. In the lungs, air pressure is produced to make the production of sound very possible. The resonance of the sounds produced is done in the nasal cavity. The most talked about feature in the vocal anatomical feature is the larynx and has been used just like the others to explain the theory of evolution of language. The adult modern humans have very long larynx that rest very low in their throats. As a result, the humans have very long pharyngeal capacity. In the Neanderthal man, the lowered larynx is not present at all. The lowered larynx is at the same way not found present in the chimpanzees. The larynx is found in the Homo habilis and is descended only so slightly. Five year old Homo sapiens are the only ones possess such a feature. The lowered larynx comes with its advantage and disadvantages. There is a very low efficiency in the respiratory system as a result of the lowered larynx therefore chocking is quite easy. However, its advantage far much outweigh the disadvantages. The advantage is that the modern man is capable to have speech. (Lieberman et al. 1972) Late researches have however realized that the low larynx is not an attribute of only the humans since other mammals like the deer also possess the lowered larynx and yet they cannot speak. The fact is that the lowered larynx has very much influenced speech and language in the modern man but is clearly not the only thing that has resulted into speech in the modern humans (Fitch et al. 2001)

The relationship between the morphology of the skeletal and the vocal soft tissues are attributed to cause speech. The human skull has developed over the ages ever since the evolution of man began. I is quite clear that the Neanderthal skull morphology was very incapable of supporting the very supralaryngeal human vocal tract and code. The palate length of the modern man and that of the Neanderthal man are not equal anatomically. The palate for the Neanderthal beings were much less than the palate of the modern man. Therefore there is no way that the vocal tract of the Neanderthal man could fit into that of the palate of the modern man. Therefore speech and language could not be possible for the Neanderthals. There are however critics who argue that the vocal tracks of the Neanderthal man were as normal as those of the modern man. Lieberman set out to see if the claims were true. He began by placing a La Chapelle Skull on the vertebral column of a normal of the modern man. The observations made were that there was an upward posture (Strauss et al. 1963). They found out that during his life, La Chapelle had suffered arthritis. In a study, Boule had not made any considerations of this therefore he reconstructed the posture of the Neanderthal very wrongly. Crelin made an observation that the vertebral of the Neanderthal and that of the normal modern man were not the same at all but this difference could have led into the stoop. The conclusions that were come up with were that the frequency of the sounds that are generated by the Supralaryngeal Vocal Tract (SVT) depend totally on the length of the SVT and its area function. Tubes and pipes were used in the past to re construct the SVT of the La Chapelle. Most recently in the new developed world, the modernized computers that have graphics that are very precise and accurate are being used and have been used to determine and to reconstruct the SVT of the Neanderthal man.

To understand the evolution of the Vocal track of the human being that has also led to the evolution of language, it is very important to also consider the tongue and its positioning in the system for both the the early man and the modern man. The tongue of an adult is of no doubt circular in nature. It has two segments, the vertical pharyngeal and the horizontal oral cavity that are placed at right angles with each other. The two segments have a proportion that is almost in a ratio of 1:1. The study of the vocalizations of primates that are not human go hand in hand with studies that involve modeling. The tongues of the monkeys and the chimpanzees cover almost the whole mouth. The arrangement affects the vocalization of different vowels. A single monkey species may be in a position to produce different frequencies of the same vowel that resemble the human vowel-a. (Riede, et al. 2005). There is however a missing formant in these vocalizations. This third formant is responsible for the production of a SVT that is a- like. The a-like sound is as a result of the laryngeal air sacs. These air sacs act as resonators. An example of an animal that does not have these air sacs is the Diana Monkey (Lieberman, 2006). Research conducted by Lieberman on the ability of pronunciation of the vowels [a], [i] and [u] have shown that the presence of the larynx together with the oral cavity has far much affected the pronunciation of these vowels. The results that were come up with indicated that the adult human being is capable of producing all the three sounds so clearly, the infant human can produce [a] and [i] only and not [u] a similar case is the Chimpanzee that can also produce only the two sounds [a] and [i]. The Neanderthal man is however found very incapable of the production of these sounds. An important point that is very worth a note is that the ability of the chimpanzees to produce these sounds does not guarantee them a place in speech because they do not even respond to such sounds. The reason might be due to the fact that they do not have the perception capability of these sounds. The evolution of man from the chimpanzee is a prime reason for the change in the language. In the case of discussing the effects of the evolution language, it is quite obvious that there was an evolution that took place in the SVT of the primates. The lengths of the SVT and their symmetry are quite different. Therefore it is quite obvious that language developed all the way from the Neanderthal man all the way to the modern man. The reason for the development and the evolvement of the STV can so much be attributed to the need to speech, the survival for the fittest and the need for a mate.

The deaf cannot be left out in the evolution of language since there is a language of signs. The evolution of the language of signs follows the evolution of the use of gestures as a form of communication. It is of great importance to realize that the left hemisphere of the brain is still dominant in this mode of communication. The science of the use of gestures has no big difference with that of uttering the words. The language of the deaf and those who are not deaf but use these signs to communicate is the same as that of the linguists who produce sound. The language also possesses the syntax, morphology and phonology like the spoken language. Therefore as the spoken word is adapted to the brain, so is the language of gestures and evolution of the brain has much affected this art of language much as it has affected the spoken language. As indicated, the brain of the modern man has a lot of improvements that have not the brains of the Chimps and therefore language is believed and is actually true to have evolved with the brain evolvement.

The evolution of humans and the language has come a long way. However, the anatomical, the genetic and the brain evolution are intertwined together and the evolution of these three factors have all together resulted into language. The chimps for example have the ability to produce the sounds [a] and [i] but cannot do it as a result of the fact that they are incapable of perceiving these sounds. It means that the SVT is needed developed for the production of these sounds but also the perception of the brain is required in order to produce the sounds. Had the SVT of the modern man change and the brain capacity and neurology remained the same as that of the Neanderthal man, there would have been no speech due to the simple fact that there would have been no perception of these sounds. The genes have also developed and evolved with ages from the Neanderthal man and had there been no evolution of the genetic complexions of the human DNA, there could have never been the development of speech. It is as a result of the fact that the neurological complexion of the modern man developed as a result of the improvement of the genetic characteristics of man. Therefore from this point, the brain also developed and since the anatomy of humans was also evolving, language also evolved.

Writing Services

Essay Writing
Service

Find out how the very best essay writing service can help you accomplish more and achieve higher marks today.

Assignment Writing Service

From complicated assignments to tricky tasks, our experts can tackle virtually any question thrown at them.

Dissertation Writing Service

A dissertation (also known as a thesis or research project) is probably the most important piece of work for any student! From full dissertations to individual chapters, we’re on hand to support you.

Coursework Writing Service

Our expert qualified writers can help you get your coursework right first time, every time.

Dissertation Proposal Service

The first step to completing a dissertation is to create a proposal that talks about what you wish to do. Our experts can design suitable methodologies - perfect to help you get started with a dissertation.

Report Writing
Service

Reports for any audience. Perfectly structured, professionally written, and tailored to suit your exact requirements.

Essay Skeleton Answer Service

If you’re just looking for some help to get started on an essay, our outline service provides you with a perfect essay plan.

Marking & Proofreading Service

Not sure if your work is hitting the mark? Struggling to get feedback from your lecturer? Our premium marking service was created just for you - get the feedback you deserve now.

Exam Revision
Service

Exams can be one of the most stressful experiences you’ll ever have! Revision is key, and we’re here to help. With custom created revision notes and exam answers, you’ll never feel underprepared again.