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English Language Arts B30

Chris Tollefson

on 4 April 2011

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Transcript of Language

1900 AD 2000 AD 1500 AD 1000 AD 0 2000 BC 5000 BC 10,000 BC 20,000 BC 50,000 BC At least 50,000 years ago, the human species developed the cognitive ability for language. Definition of "Language": 1. Noun (uncountable): the ability to communicate using words; 2. Noun (countable): a system of communication using words (written, spoken and/or gestured), structured with grammar; (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/language#Noun) i.e. the general concept of language itself. i.e. instances of languages, such as English or American Sign Language. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_language) 100,000 BC 200,000 BC About 200,000 years ago, the "anatomically-modern human" (homo sapiens sapiens sub-species) evolved. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomically_modern_humans) What's the point of language? Language enables us to communicate large amounts of information relatively efficiently and precisely, as compared to other more primitive forms of communication. There are several definitions of the the word "language;" for the purposes of this presentation, we're interested in only two of them. Note that in some languages other than English, there are distinct words for these separate definitions. For example, in French, "langage" means the first definition, and "langue" means the second definition. It also enables us to request information from other people. Other animals, in contrast, do not cognitively have this ability. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Asked_the_First_Question?#Origins_of_questioning_behavior) It's about communicating information: Why did language develop? Language developed as a function of the evolution of human intellect; this provided a competitive advantage to humans over other species. For example, by communicating explicit information among individuals, language enabled our ancestors to forage for food more efficiently and to hunt in groups more effectively. This helped the proliferation of the human species with respect to other species. Some of my thoughts on language... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language#Definitions) (100 years, approximately to scale) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_modernity) This development is sometimes associated with the concept of "behavioral modernity." So when did it all begin? How did the development of language affect human life? You only need to look at, for example, poetry, literature, or human conversation to see the vast social, cultural, emotional, intellectual, educational, psychological, philosophical and theological implications of language. Biological considerations aside, language enables our very essence. Of particular interest to me, however, are the technological implications of language. As we live our lives, we make discoveries and gain knowledge. Language enables us to pass such information on to our contemporaries and to successive generations so that they may benefit from it. Also notice the significance of written language with respect to technological advancement - it enables information to be recorded (on paper, digitally, etc.), which provides several important benefits: Recorded information is not subject to distortion or deletion from human memory (which is inherently faulty). Recorded information can be transmitted through time (by virtue of it being recorded at all) and space (for example, by mail), so that it can be used at a later time or in another location. In other words, language facilitates teaching and learning. Successive generations build upon the base of human knowledge that has been passed on to them, so that within their own lifetimes, they can make even deeper discoveries and gain even deeper knowledge, to be passed on in turn to yet successive generations. In this way, the base of human knowledge expands continuously with each successive generation, and it is through this mechanism that civilization and technology arose. From: Genetic Analysis of Lice Supports Direct Contact between Modern and Archaic Humans Reed DL, Smith VS, Hammond SL, Rogers AR, Clayton DH PLoS Biology Vol. 2, No. 11, e340 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020340 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Saxon_settlement_of_Britain) From "Beowulf" - circa 8th-11th century. Hwæt! Wē Gār-Dena
in geārdagum, þēodcyninga,
þrym gefrūnon, hū ðā æþelingas ellen
fremedon. Oft Scyld Scēfing sceaþena
þrēatum, monegum mǣgþum, meodosetla
oftēah, egsode eorlas. Syððan ǣrest wearð
fēasceaft funden, hē þæs frōfre gebād,
wēox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þāh,
oðþæt him ǣghwylc þāra ymbsittendra
ofer hronrāde hȳran scolde, gomban
gyldan. Þæt wæs gōd cyning! (http://www.everypoet.com/archive/poetry/anonymous/Beowulf_prelude.htm) First eleven lines transcribed: (Of course, we now have the technology to record other forms of information besides language, such as sound and video.) Interestingly, with the advent of the internet, there is now more information easily available to us than there has ever been at any previous point in human history. This creates a recursive feedback loop for the growth of the base of human knowledge. Now (Late West Saxon dialect; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Saxon_dialect_(Old_English).) Lo, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
we have heard, and what honor the athelings
won! Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
awing the earls. Since erst he lay
friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve,
till before him the folk, both far and near,
who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,
gave him gifts: a good king he! Translated: From "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer, 14th century. When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,
To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.
And specially from every shire's end
Of England they to Canterbury wend,
The holy blessed martyr there to seek
Who helped them when they lay so ill and weak. Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour,
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke. Translated: (http://pages.towson.edu/duncan/chaucer/duallang1.htm) Abstract thoughts (for example, philosophy) are not possible without language. Through language, we assign meaning to symbols (words), and construct more complex and abstract meanings in terms of those symbols. It's also about human thought processes: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Vowel_Shift) From "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare, circa 1600 AD. Audio: Audio of Middle English: Some more of my thoughts on language... Now To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of dispriz'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn away,
And lose the name of action. Audio of Modern English: Proto-Germanic
(reconstructed) Germanic Languages North Germanic
(Scandanavian) Danish Swedish Norwegian East Germanic
(extinct) Gothic West Germanic
Languages High German Anglo-Frisian German Yiddish English Indo-European Languages Balto-Slavic Languages Celtic Languages Italic Languages Hellenic Languages Indo-Iranian Languages Proto-Indo-European
(reconstructed) Eskimo-Aleut
Languages Inuktitut Algic
Languages Algonquin
Languages Blackfoot Cheyenne Cree Ojibwe Shawnee Mi'kmaq Iroquoian
Languages Cherokee Mohawk Siouan-Catawban
Languages Sioux Indigenous Languages of North and Central America Mayan
Languages Uto-Aztecan
Languages Numic
Languages Comanche Shoshone Chorachol-Aztecan
Languages Languages
of Africa Afroasiatic
Languages Nilo-Saharan
Languages Niger-Congo
Languages Khoisan
Languages Nubian
Languages Dholuo Kalenjin Kanuri Egyptian Semitic
Languages Ethiopic
Languages Arabic Aramaic Canaanite
Languages Hebrew Berber
Languages Chadic
Languages Cushitic
Languages Omotic
Languages Songhay
Languages Dinka Altaic
Languages Proto-Altaic Turkic
Languages Turkish Azerbaijani Mongolic
Languages Tungusic
Languages Manchu Korean Japonic
Languages Japanese Sino-Tibetan
Languages Chinese
Languages Cantonese Mandarin Tibeto-Burman
Languages Burmese Tibetan Proto-Italic Latin Romance Languages Romanian Italo-Western Languages Italian Gallo-Iberian Languages Iberian Languages Spanish Portugese Gallic Languages French Greek Irish Gaelic Scots Gaelic Welsh Albanian Armenian Proto-Celtic Proto-Balto-Slavic Baltic Languages Latvian Lithuanian Slavic Languages Lechitic Languages Polish Western Slavic Languages Bosnian Czech Slovak Serbian Croatian Eastern Slavic Languages Russian Ukrainian Proto-Indo-Iranian Indo-Aryan Languages Sanskrit Bengali Punjabi Kashmiri Hindi Urdu Pahari
Languages Nepali Iranian Languages Pashto Waziri Farsi (Persian) Kurdish Old English (Anglo-Saxon) (5th - 11th centuries) Developed as the Western Germanic tribes of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes settled in England during the Barbarian Invasions. Influenced by Northern Germanic Language in the 8th - 9th centuries, and by the Norman Language during the Norman Invasion of 1066 AD. Middle English (11th - 15th centuries) Circa 1450 AD, the invention of the movable-type printing press helped to standardize the English Language. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_conquest_of_England) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_English#Late_Middle_English) The "Great Vowel Shift" of the 15th century brought about many of the pronunciation differences between Middle English and Modern English. Early Modern English (15th - 17th centuries) What factors influence the evolution of language? Movement of people (ex: immigration, invasion) among different cultures causes intermingling of language elements from those cultures. The passing of time causes slow changes to language over time. Occasionally, a particular technological advancement will bring about changes to language.
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