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Old 12.04.2007, 02:29 PM   #1
Tokolosh
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And which one is the oldest?

 


I was looking it up today, and couldn't really find a definite answer.
Some say Chinese or Egyptian, while others say Sumerian.
Gestures have been around since the dawn of man.
Speech probably followed by drawing and writing.

Any thoughts?
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Old 12.04.2007, 02:32 PM   #2
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the languages of the Khoi peoples in South Africa and in particular Namibia are considered the most ancient lanuages in the world, just as these peoples DNA have been traced to be the oldest continuous lineage. of course, there is obviously the taint of the current academic 'afrocentricism' which looks at Africa as the center of everything. still, the clicking language is clearly ancient, if not the most ancient, and next in the line are the Semitic languages of the Horn of Africa, which eventually spread across the world. the semitic hard "ch" is the descendent of the vocal click. I believe there are something like twelve or 14 different kinds of clicks as well... for being ancient it actually seems kind of complicated and cumbersome to contemporary speach patterns.
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Old 12.04.2007, 02:34 PM   #3
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well the oldest languages are as old as man himself, but these are dead languages - they weren't written down, and no one now speaks or understands them.
but it depends what you base "oldest" on. if it is what language was written down first, it would probably by egyptian or sumerian.
but the first humans (africans found about 100,000 years ago) had modern vocal cords so they would have had spoken language.
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Old 12.04.2007, 02:37 PM   #4
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I think the earliest record of a written language 'system' is from Egypt.
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Old 12.04.2007, 02:46 PM   #5
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when does something become "language" though?

it's likely the first species of apes (that's if you don't believe in adam and eve of course) were already communicating in some vocal way, albeit in a very primitive way that just meant roaring/shouting to strangers invading their territory etc.

but that wasn't really a language as it didn't have a certain set of rules. it's an interesting question, especially when you think of things like the first rules that were made, the first grammar and the first "translations" between languages, etc.
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Old 12.04.2007, 02:59 PM   #6
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I find hand gestures and body language particularly interesting.
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Old 12.04.2007, 03:00 PM   #7
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Oh yeah?
 
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Old 12.04.2007, 03:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tokolosh

 






I find hand gestures and body language particularly interesting.

animals have body language and maybe even "gestures" too... so body language could be older than the dinosaurs (if animals can be considered to have a "real" language that is).
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Old 12.04.2007, 03:05 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Savage Clone
Oh yeah?
 


 
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Old 12.04.2007, 03:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Savage Clone
Oh yeah?

 

"10"?

you mean 10 what?
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Old 12.04.2007, 03:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pokkeherrie
animals have body language and maybe even "gestures" too... so body language could be older than the dinosaurs (if animals can be considered to have a "real" language that is).

That's what I'm thinking.

Writing isn't necessarily needed to define a language.
Just take a look on the forum for example.
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Old 12.04.2007, 03:12 PM   #12
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I thought he was clutching two imaginary mystical Ice Orbs.
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Old 12.04.2007, 03:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tokolosh
That's what I'm thinking.

Writing isn't necessarily needed to define a language.
Just take a look on the forum for example.

True.
It's interesting in that regard that Aboriginal languages, which may actually be the world's oldest "still existing languages", had never been written down until Europeans arrived a little over 200 years ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Savage Clone
I thought he was clutching two imaginary mystical Ice Orbs.

one simple image and we're already lost in translation.
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Old 12.04.2007, 03:20 PM   #14
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I might be mistaken here, but I think that is also true of the Hmong language.
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Old 12.04.2007, 03:24 PM   #15
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which would make a point that a written language is not necessary for developping a fashion sense.
 
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Old 12.04.2007, 03:26 PM   #16
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Even the deaf and blind use an appropriate language.
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Old 12.04.2007, 03:40 PM   #17
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It's the standard historical belief that the Sumerians in ancient Babylonia developed a symbolic language first. One that, albeit primitive, incorporated characters and is alike in that respect to what we know today as language. The Egyptians similarly developed language around the same time period around three thousand years before the common era. And around fifteen hundred years B.C.E., the Sumerians were also the first to take this symbolic language and utilize it to incorporarate rules for early civilization in the codification of laws; i.e., Hammurabi's Code.

SuchFriendsAreDangerous may be absolutely correct though because simple language that facilitated the communication of ideas between early humans occurred much, much earlier and up to a hundred thousand years before the common era. So, the "standard historical belief" arising from ancient Babylon I wrote of earlier is thought of as the first perversion of communication according to Rastafarians.

And then there's William S. Burroughs who flippantly declared that, "language is a virus from outer space."
Well, life itself may have came from outer space in the form of amino acids present in meteorite debris that interacted chemically with elements on Earth. But at any rate, on the lighter side, here's Laurie Anderson's "Language is a Virus" from her Home of the Brave concert film from 1986.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FeyGTmw0I0
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Old 12.04.2007, 03:42 PM   #18
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communication is NOT language.
hand gestures and grunts can communicate basic things but that is not language. language is the use of specific vocal "symbols"
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Old 12.04.2007, 04:33 PM   #19
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Language isn't only about words. Algebra which consists of symbols is a good example of that.
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Old 12.04.2007, 04:42 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atari 2600
It's the standard historical belief that the Sumerians in ancient Babylonia developed a symbolic language first. One that, albeit primitive, incorporated characters and is alike in that respect to what we know today as language. The Egyptians similarly developed language around the same time period around three thousand years before the common era. And around fifteen hundred years B.C.E., the Sumerians were also the first to take this symbolic language and utilize it to incorporarate rules for early civilization in the codification of laws; i.e., Hammurabi's Code.

SuchFriendsAreDangerous may be absolutely correct though because simple language that facilitated the communication of ideas between early humans occurred much, much earlier and up to a hundred thousand years before the common era. So, the "standard historical belief" arising from ancient Babylon I wrote of earlier is thought of as the first perversion of communication according to Rastafarians.

And then there's William S. Burroughs who flippantly declared that, "language is a virus from outer space."
Well, life itself may have came from outer space in the form of amino acids present in meteorite debris that interacted chemically with elements on Earth. But at any rate, on the lighter side, here's Laurie Anderson's "Language is a Virus" from her Home of the Brave concert film from 1986.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FeyGTmw0I0

Fair points all. There's a superlative argument from Derrida's Writing and Difference that I haven't the time to do justice to here, but those interested in the epistemological bases of language, and the alleged 'opposition' between the written and the spoken (and all that falls between) would do well to read that book.
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