Video Fix: The Big Bang of #language

October 14, 2015 5:43 pm

CaptureAstrophysicists may have a big bang theory to explain the origin of the universe, but linguists have a bow-wow theory to explain the origins of language. That’s why this week’s video suggestion is about the many existing theories concerning the origins of our language.

The interesting clip we are proposing today has been prepared by Emrah Dolgunsöz for educational purposes, and starts answering some important questions about what language really is. For example, it underlines how language is “the fundamental way of communication and interaction, both organized and systematic” – a definition that can reasonably sound elementary; yet, we have to keep it in mind if we want to give language the universal importance it deserves.

But what are the origins of language, exactly? What you will learn from this video is that linguistic experts are still not sure about its origins, but obviously they have many theories to propose. To name just a few:

  • The Bow-wow theory says that “nature and especially animal sounds are the starting point of linguistic systems”.
  • The Ding dong theory assumes that “human named sounds and names after sounds produced by objects around”.

But there are also:

  • The so-called Yo-he-ho theory (suggesting the idea that “speech started with the rhythmic chants and grunts people used to coordinate their physical actions when they worked together”).
  • The Pooh-pooh theory (“speech comes from the automatic vocal responses to pain, fear, surprise, or other emotions: a laugh, a shriek, a gasp”).
  • The Ta-ta theory (“speech comes from the use of tongue and mouth gestures to mimic manual gestures; for example, saying ta-ta is like waving goodbye with your tongue”).
  • The La-la theory (“speech emerged from the sounds of inspired playfulness, love, poetic sensibility, and song”).
  • And – of course – the Evolutionary biology’s theory as well, which states that “human physiology went through a number of changes due to the environmental factors, and language is a result of these changes”.

If you are interested, you can check out the video below and learn more about the many existing theories concerning the origins of our language.


6 Early Theories About the Origin of Language


Written by Eva Barros Campelli

Communication Trainee at TermCoord

Trained Journalist at the London School of Journalism

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