> I've summarized the published literature as best I
> can, and stayed away from speculation. You've
> jumped right in with some ideas of how it may have
> evolved from the earliest times. The broad
> outlines seem credible and fun, but have gone way
> beyond what I would be comfortable with.
> I suspect that the orthogenesis I've proposed is
> very ancient, but the development of alphabets and
> written language as we understand them today must
> be approached with a bit more caution.
I have followed your links.
I'm not really suggesting I know more than the scholars or other theorists but I believe a great deal comes down to what we believe. I can't believe that modern people are any smarter, saner, more "advanced", or any less superstitious than ancient people. I believe there must be simpler explanations than ancient people were primitive and superstitious but we're all better now. It seems everyone has every answer now days except no one knows how it all began or why we're here. No one even knows how pyramids were built or what causes gravity.
Nobody can explain why history doesn't start for many centuries after the invention of writing. The best explanation for why all ancient writing is fantastic and surreal is that all the authors were sun addled. The best explanation for for the invention of agriculture and cities is "trial and error" but only science can put a man on the moon and STILL NOT EXPLAIN GRAVITY!!!
Caution is good and the proper scientific stance but most hypotheses about the origin of language and writing don't really explain so much as they put a date to it. None of these hypotheses is falsifiable and instead each generation just adds to the work of previous generations as the potential to prove any of it slips back further and further in time. We must believe ancient people were "less" and that they became "more" with every step toward science. Somehow I can't see an Inquisitor as more than a Roman or a Roman as more than a caveman. Perhaps this is my failure but I can even see an Einstein as more than an Imhotep or a Shakespeare as more than Enoch. I believe we each work with what we have available and if cavemen needed writing they would have invented it.
I believe that hypotheses with a very low probability of ever being tested or proven are not so much to abandon. They've done a lot of remarkable work with linguistics and languages. Some of the stuff coming from Biblical scholars is remarkable and perhaps statistics can someday uncover work and language origins we can hardly imagine. It's not a matter of tossing anything out so much as it is the methodical and systematic application of human knowledge to all things. We are too quick to ignore or discard physical evidence because it doesn't fit with the status quo. We have clay discs from Sumeria that apparently underlie the first (known) alphabet but these tend to be shunted aside as the physical evidence is not tested. Of course it's entirely possible that more physical evidence wouldn't answer very many questions and just fill up the backs of future dusty old tomes.
I believe it's way past time to put engineers in charge of engineering issues. If you want to know who, why, or when a pot shard originated than an anthropologist is just the person to ask. But if you want to know how it was made, its purpose, and why it's broken then you need an engineer. Knowledge of the physical properties of shards, discs, and artefacts just might tell you a great deal about the people who made them. It will provide clues to the meaning and how they impacted the lives of the makers.
Far too many fundamental assumptions are unchallenged and untested. We are each fixating on minutia to the exclusion of learning the basis for how to put it all together. There's endless opinion and very little substantive data about much of anything. In very real ways this applies even today. We take a reality for granted and we take it for granted that we each see the same reality. Mostly we only agree on the broadest brush strokes but even these tend to be assumptive.