How Language Made Us Human

It is our pleasure to welcome Simon Prentis, author of SPEECH! How Language Made Us Human, as our featured author for September. In his book, Simon offers a bold new theory for the emergence of language from animal communication, showing how a simple yet radical change was the key to everything that distinguishes humans from other species. He explores the growth of consciousness and the development of culture, religion and identity, and shows how the logic of language ultimately allows us to escape the inevitable traps they set for us.

Interact with Simon on our AoM forum here 

“I couldn’t stop reading until I finished it. This book should be widely read!” –James Lovelock

“Crisp and clear – I agree with your hypothesis.” -Desmond Morris

“I look forward to reading it.” -Sir David Attenborough

“Bravo! A compelling read.” -Yoko Ono

The Mystery of Mysteries

We all love a good mystery. From the origin of the universe to the enigmatic traces of ancient civilizations, our curiosity about how we come to be what we are and our desire to unravel the secrets of the unknown is virtually insatiable – it’s the driving force behind everything we humans have achieved. Yet as mysteries go, none is more mysterious than the one you’re experiencing right now: the extraordinary mystery of language. For just by arranging and rearranging a handful of simple marks on this page, I can put thoughts into your head that you’ve never had before – though you don’t know who I am, have never met me, and quite likely never will.

When you stop to think about it, that’s real magic – happening right in front of your eyes. Without it, we wouldn’t be writing – or even thinking – about any mysteries at all. Yet here’s the thing: no one seems to know how we’re able to do it, or even when language begani. Given how important it is to us, that’s pretty astonishing.

It’s particularly astonishing because – as far as we know – none of the millions of other species on our planet have learnt the trick. Animals do communicate with each other, of course. Dogs are pretty good at showing us what they want, and can probably understand quite a few of the things we say to them. In the wild, we know that many species make distinctively different calls that warn each other of threats from particular predators. Bees do wiggle-dances that tell their hive-mates where to find food. But they certainly aren’t talking about Göbekli Tepe – or quantum physics. They’re not even discussing football. Or Love Island. It’s a grim world out there.

Why should that be? In almost every other respect, we’re pretty similar to our animal cousins. We all of us breathe, eat, drink, sleep, poop and make whoopee in much the same way. Our genome is almost 99% the same as the genome of chimpanzees, our closest relatives, nearly 85% the same as mice, and we share as much as 60% of our DNA with fruit flies. We even share 50% of our genes with bananas! So how come we’re the only ones who are living in vast, glittering cities and flying helicopters on Mars? What is it about humans that makes us so different?

One explanation might be that we are the result of some kind of extra-terrestrial interaction – exogenetic manipulation of our DNA by an alien life form that caused our brains to become bigger and better, bestowing the gift of language. That, after all, is the essence of the traditional religious explanation: ‘God’ gave us language to let us rule over the earth. Even the currently accepted theory for the origin of language is consistent with that possibility: Professor Noam Chomsky, the foremost theoretical linguist of our times, believes that humans have language thanks to a single genetic mutation specific to our species, one that probably occurred quite suddenly, around 70,000 years agoii.To expect evolution to have delivered that in one go is a big ask.

But it also presumes language must be the consequence of genetic changes to the brain. And what I’m going to argue here is that there’s a completely different, much simpler explanation – one that’s been staring us in the face all the time – but like all such obvious things, we haven’t seen it because we’ve been looking in the wrong place. Yet once you realise that language is more of a trick than a trait, you can see the fingerprints of its origin in the languages we still use today – and if I’m right, it also provides us with a persuasive answer to the ongoing puzzle of why our early hominid brains grew so rapidly in such a short time (in evolutionary terms)iii, even as our muscles grew puny and weak. But this is not accepted theory. Not yet. So strap yourselves in for a bumpy ride. It’s up to you to decide if I’m making sense.

A Smoking Gun

To understand why language is more of a trick than a trait, we’ll need to think a little bit about how language works. In simple terms, all languages have two key parts: words and grammar. Words seem straightforward enough – all you need is a dictionary, and you can start to have a basic conversation. But grammar takes more time to learn, as different languages can have very different strategies. Take the simple sentence Their god was a dog. In some languages, German and Japanese for example, you say Their god a dog was. Some languages even say A dog their god was. And then you have the more complex aspects: conjugation, declension, agreement and so on. That’s where most people give up. It’s also where most linguists begin.

They begin there because these are the aspects of language that are hardest to understand: how do we use these grammatical rules so effortlessly if we don’t know how they work? This is the question that first led Professor Chomsky to propose (and most professional linguists to agree) that there must be some genetically determined ‘Universal Grammar’ function in our heads, that allows us to do it as if by instinct. But there’s a problem, Boston. Two of them, in fact. The first is that even after decades of intensive research, no one can agree on what this elusive Universal Grammar might look like, or even if it actually existsiv. The second is this: language cannot have begun with grammar because you can’t have grammar without words.

If that seems too obvious to need saying, think again. Compared to the sounds that animals make, words are not as simple as they seem. Animal calls are mostly just what they are: unique holistic noises that can vary in quality according to the feeling they express – louder, softer, harsher, smoother – but cannot be broken down into parts. Words are different. All words are combinations of vowels and consonants, the units of sound that linguists call phonemes. Take the word dog. It’s made up of three phonemes: /d/, /o/ and /g/. Reverse them, and you get a completely different word: god. You can’t do that with the moos, hoots, screeches or squawks that animals make, and which our ancestors must once have made too. If we want to understand how language got started, we need to know how we came up with words.

A vital clue is found in a paper published in Science in 2011v, which showed that the number of phonemes used in languages around the world is not constant, but varies in what is known as a ‘cline’ – meaning that there is a relationship between the number used in any given language and its geographical location. Though there are many exceptions along the way, the general pattern that emerges shows that overall, the number reduces with distance from Africa. To take the two extremes, the largest number of phonemes is found in the Khoisan languages spoken by the bushmen of Southern Africa – known from genetic studies to have one of the oldest lineages on earth – and the smallest is among in the Pirahã tribe in the Amazonian jungle: one of the last places to be inhabited as we slowly spread out from Africa round the globe.

Why is that important? Well, it means that the number of sounds used in languages as they changed over time seems to have decreased as they evolved – and this is our smoking gun: a clear fingerprint of the origin of language. For if the number of phonemes has dropped away over time, the first languages must have used more of them – and if it’s possible to communicate just as well using a much smaller range of sounds (where English uses 44, Japanese has only 20; ǃXóõ has 144, Pirahã only 11), it means that many languages are still using more phonemes than they require. To see why, we’ll have to do some maths: but stay with me – it’s not too demanding.

The Trick of Speech

All words are made up of syllables – and at its simplest, a syllable is no more than a combination of a vowel and a consonant. English has around 20 vowels and 24 consonants (we don’t have enough letters in the alphabet to represent them all, which is why English spelling is so complicated). This means, at a rough approximation, that English can generate a minimum of 20 x 24 = 480 unique single-syllable words. That may not seem very many, but the magic of maths means that when it comes to two syllables, it’s possible to create as many as 480 x 480 = 230,400 unique words – way more than any one person could ever need, or hope to use.

Now let’s see how things stand at the two extremes. The Khoisan languages can have over 40 vowels and 100 consonants, which means that at least 4,000 unique words are available with just a single syllable, and an astonishing 16 million (4,000 x 4,000) with two – which is why most words in these languages are monosyllabic: they don’t need any more. Yet though the Pirahã language has only three vowels and eight consonants, and can only make 3 x 8 = 24 single-syllable words, once you get to three syllables there’s the potential for 24 x 24 x 24 = 13,824 words (three syllable words are common in most languages; think of ‘syll-ab-le’ in English). And by adding on just one more syllable, the number goes to over 330,000.

It’s this huge potential that’s so important. You may not know how many words you know. Most people don’t – and that includes most linguists. It’s actually a rather hard thing to measure – academic estimates vary greatly – but the consensus seems to be around 20-30,000 words. That’s not the same thing as the number of words that exist or the number of words you actively use on a daily basis – but it seems to be the number most people need to know in any language. This means that it’s easy to make enough words to enable the full spectrum of human communication with even quite a small number of phonemes.

So why would languages use more sounds than they need? And now we come to the crux of the matter. Most animals use sound to communicate. Yet as we have seen, they’re just simple noises – analog representations of feeling, like oral emoji. But there’s a limit to the number of unstructured, random sounds you can remember. Without a system of some kind, it’s hard to retain unrelated information. So if our earliest ancestors were communicating simple emotions in this way, slowly building up a stock of calls with different meanings, they would eventually have come up against a memory limit. And the easiest way to have more sounds without increasing the memory burden would be to combine existing sounds.

If you were already using the sound Aah! to mean ‘snake’, and Eeh! for ‘bird’, for example, you could use Aah-Eeh! for ‘elephant’ and Eeh-Aah! for ‘tiger’. Or Aah-Aah! for sex and Eeh-Eeh! for food. Suddenly you have four new words from just two sounds. Combining three sounds gives you 3 x 3 x 3 = 27 possibilities, four gives you 256 and so on. It’s exponential. Think of numbers. All languages have different words for the first ten numbers, but after that, we break them down into units of ten, allowing us to remember much larger numbers than we otherwise could. Take the number 1348. That’s a quantity that’s easy enough to grasp when expressed that way, but imagine we had a different, unrelated word for every number beyond ten (like ‘eleven’ and ‘twelve’, but continuing on endlessly.) You’d soon lose track of them. It’s the same thing with sounds and words: for the big secret of human language is that it’s digital.

A Human Singularity

What does that mean? Well, don’t ask a linguist – with a few honourable exceptions, they don’t recognise that description, any more than biologists think of DNA as digital. But it’s accurate enough for all that. Like numbers (which are digital by definition; all numbers are made up of simple combinations of just ten digits, 0-9), words are made by combining a fixed number of sounds specific to their particular language. Whether we count them as syllables or phonemes, all words are unique ‘digital’ combinations of sounds we already know – which is why it’s so easy to remember them. So if the transition from animal communication to human language came about through a switch from analog sounds to digital words, we’d expect it to have begun with a relatively large number of sounds, which slowly reduced over time as we realised we didn’t need so many in combination. And that’s what the evidence seems to show.

If that’s the explanation, though, surely we’d expect to see signs of that happening with other species, too? Well, it turns out that we do. As we start to study the calling strategies of wild animals in more detail, we begin to see that quite diverse species – among them Campbell’s Monkeys, prairie dogs and babbler birds – are already combining soundsvi, using existing calls that mean one thing on their ownvii to mean something quite different in combinationviii. That too is a fingerprint of language – one that’s clearly consistent with the start of the process. Because grammar would only emerge much later, driven by the need to organise words once there are enough of them – allowing the relationships between them to be expressed. If you’ve ever had to learn a foreign language, you’ll recognise the problem. Words come first.

But if that’s the case, why haven’t any other species learnt to speak? Well, let’s just consider the effect of language. Being able to talk, however simply, means we can share ideas – once someone has figured something out, words allow it to spread. We don’t all have to be smart. It may have taken forever to invent the wheel – but once we did, the idea was shared so fast that archaeologists can’t agree where it first appeared. Or take the telephone: in just a few generations since it was invented, there are more mobile phones on our planet than people – even if most of us have no idea how they work. That’s the fruit of language. It’s a tool for linking minds – for the ability to exchange ideas means we are effectively all part of a giant, species-wide brain.

Which means that language wasn’t just another evolutionary add-on, an incremental step like an extra toe or colour vision. Being able to talk would have brought about a rapid and transformative change. Ray Kurzweil, Google’s futurist-in-chief, talks of what he calls The Singularity – the moment when AI becomes smarter than we will be able to understandix. But with language, we humans have already been through our own Singularity: as far as other animals are concerned, from the moment we learnt to speak we left all other species standing. We can’t see that, because even the longest individual human life is a mere speck in the large scale of evolution – but in the big picture, language took us to warp drive. Other animals may be stumbling toward that moment, but by getting there first, we cornered the market in communication.

The Brain Gain

And there’s more. If language emerged the way I have outlined, by slowly digitising analog sounds to create words, it helps us explain another deep mystery of the human species – for there’s a further fingerprint of language to be found in the very shape of our bodies. Why do we have such big brains, and why did they grow as quickly as they did, evolutionarily speaking? The view accepted both by linguists and anthropologists is that language somehow emerged as a natural consequence of our big brains, which just happened to become big enough to enable us to speak. What’s never explained is how, or what might have happened to drive that sudden change.

For brains are expensive to run: those of most mammals, including the other great apes, are no more than a third of the size of ours, relatively speaking, and consume about 8% of the energy they get from food. But our brains gobble up over 20% of our available energy – a huge increase in demand. Not only that, the change happened very quickly (there’s no precedent for brains tripling in size over the course of two million years as ours did) – so there would have to have been a huge benefit to doing so. And there’s something else: the fossil record shows our ancestors’ large jaws and brawny muscles actually shrank as their brains grew.

That’s especially odd, as it was happening just as we’d have needed more food to service our growing brains. Why would evolution select for weaker bodies when we’d need all our strength to get more food? As things stand, we have neither a consistent nor a convincing explanation. But suppose it coincided with the start of our journey with language. Far from being the cause of language, our big brains could far more plausibly be the result of it. For if language is a tool that allows us to share ideas, a community that can do that – at however primitive a level – is much better off than one that can’t, because everyone can benefit from the best ideas of a few.

Which would mean that it would start to be more useful to be smart than strong – creating a strong evolutionary pressure for the survival of those with bigger, better brains. And that’s not all: language lets individuals plan and work together, so we could harness the power of collective action – useful in hunting, for example. Without language, physically strong individuals can dominate their pack; with it, a bunch of smart nerds can use their combined intelligence to outwit and defeat them. And with language putting a premium on intelligence, it’s no surprise that our brains should have continued to grow: indeed they kept going until a natural limit for childbirth was reached – humans are still more likely to die in childbirth than other species.

Then there’s the question of consciousness, the idea of the soul, and how language contributes to all that – and how the ability to discuss ideas raises questions that lead us down predictable avenues: the blind alleys of culture, religion and identity among them. These false gods have caused us much trouble through history, and still do today – hampering our ability to come together as a species, and overcome the problems we now face collectively at a global level. Because beyond these tribal concerns, the real fruit of language is science and the technology it enables. Whether on this planet or any other, any advanced civilization will have to have developed a method of storing and sharing information, and though the physical forms may vary, the broad process is likely to be similar. These are the issues I explore in more detail in my book, for the emergence of language was just the beginning – what really defines us as human is the use we have made of it.

And finally…

This may not be the kind of mystery you expected to read about when you came to this site, and I’m grateful to Graham for allowing me to air my ideas. They may not help us determine how and when the earliest civilisations first appeared on our planet, but I believe they are important nonetheless. For one thing, you wouldn’t be reading or talking about anything at all if we didn’t have language, and understanding how we have it and how it works is an important part of what it means to be human. And for another, by showing how we may have been using language for much, much longer than we’ve previously thought – even for millions of years – it offers a way to understand how our earliest ancestors may have been able to spread out around the globe and begin to civilize, by themselves, much earlier than is currently supposed. It’s food for thought, anyway. And isn’t that why we’re all here?

You can hear Simon talking more about his book in this podcast.


14 thoughts on “The Fingerprints of Language”

  1. Edmond Furter says:

    Anthropology was born of Linguistics (Jacobsen etc). Both crafts still carry the burdens of popular mis-applications and misconceptions of biological evolution.
    I also admire Chomsky. But evolution is irrelevant to culture, to language, and to semiotics (meaning itself).
    Culture and language are complete ensembles, with limited repertoires, much like biology and ecology. But all structures are equal expressions of archetype.
    Your article seems to make conclusions from “the ability to exchange ideas means we are part of a giant, species-wide brain.” But we also have given and manipulated contexts. And we exchange highly predictable transactions, not free-ranging ‘ideas’.
    You conclude that verbal language “brought a rapid and transformative change.” But do you have evidence of half-formed languages, or incomplete cultures? Or of half-formed media (art, myth, ritual, icons, crafts)? If not, then culture does not change. And technology follows a predictable maturity curve based on population density, independent of language.
    Linguistics, anthropology, and all the human sciences and crafts, could make progress when they freed themselves from the assumptions of popular or garden evolution. But this is unlikely.
    Your article recognises the dual human impulse to co-operate and to exploit. Language in its optionality of sounds allocated to meanings, offers one of the strongest mechanisms for bonding v exploitation. Perhaps you could write more about language as a given medium, instead of the generally assumed ‘constructed, developed, evolved’ medium.

    1. Simon Prentis says:

      I’m not quite sure what you mean by language as a ‘given’ medium, except insofar as all humans are born into and adopt an existing language and culture. If you would like to read more on that point, Chapters 2-5 of my book were written to specifically address the effects of that, and the ways we have found to to elude them. As to language and culture not evolving, surely the whole of human history demonstrates that they do, if in ways that are to some extent predictable, even archetypical — or at least rational in retrospect. Technology may follow a maturity curve, but it is nonetheless dependent on the exchange of information, which is precisely what language enables. Both language and culture are constantly changing, and so to speak of ‘half-formed’ languages of cultures implies a point of completion that they can never achieve. But if you want actual evidence of unformed language emerging from an analog past into its digital present, it is clearly seen in the history of writing, in at least four independent traditions. See Chapter 1 of my book for more details!

    2. Greg Jordan says:

      Disagree.Cultural evolution is dependent on language. And I guarantee that technology is dependent on language.The development of the first tools a sharpened stone required communication in finding and shaping the tool.But most important is how language developed. It developed around the ancient campfire once a hominid like Lucy found a burning stick and learned to make and keep the fire going. Lucy found that girl talk works best with language. Tribal Roots,Kindle ebook.The campfire was the central organizing feature of Paleolithic culture. The chanting and percussive bison hide drums gave rise to words. Why not other animals? Simple. no campfire.

  2. Carl Johan Calleman says:

    Thank you for bringing in an interesting topic that may have more
    to do with the rise of civilization than it may at first sight seem.
    You are basing yourself quite a lot on Quentin Atkinson’s study
    of the number of phonemes in different languages.
    Something I do not understand is: If the original languages among
    the Bushmen had a redundant number
    of phonemes, why did this number only drop when people migrated away from
    this original location? The high number of phonemes should have been just
    as redundant in Southwest Africa as in the places people migrated to.

    1. Simon Prentis says:

      Atkinson’s study was the first thing that brought my attention to the issue. As a Japanese speaker I had puzzled for some time over the low number of phonemes used in the language (less than half the number used in English), but this paper made me realise that it held a possible clue to the origin of language. He’s not without his critics, of course — there’s a debate to be had about what does or does not constitute a phoneme in any particular language, for example — but in the big picture not only does he have statistical support, it’s what you would logically expect if the key shift in language was from analog sounds to digital combinations, as I argue in my book.

      As to why a high number of phonemes would have been conserved in the languages of the Bushmen, I think the best explanation is the evolutionary one: why does the coelacanth still exist, and has not evolved into another species? Because it doesn’t need to. Languages are inherently conservative, as shown by the constant complaint of curmudgeons through history about young people ‘not speaking the language properly’. Though these things take place over unimaginably long periods of time, my sense is that it would have been breakaway groups (with no elders to scold them) who would have found it easier to get away with dropping their ‘h’s and other redundant phonemes — defo, innit!

      Hope that helps,


  3. rylan mims says:

    ‘That’s especially odd, as it was happening just as we’d have needed more food to service our growing brains. Why would evolution select for weaker bodies when we’d need all our strength to get more food?’…

    what if we overran our natural food supply and hunger drove us to discover putting fire to our food, learning to put fire to food allowed us to begin to eat foods that before were not digestible and/or safe to eat…

    so now we can cook/eat grains which before was just for the birds, now we can eat meat with less worry about the downsides of raw meat…

    but this eating from the apple of knowledge cost us, forced us, to develop the language skills needed to overcome the increased complexity that this new tool of putting fire to food has bestowed upon us…


    1. Simon Prentis says:

      Or: what if our ability to talk to each other was the thing that allowed us to overcome our natural fear of fire in the first place, an aversion that no other species has mastered (with the possible exception of crows, which are believed to occasionally use burning embers to start forest fires to drive out prey). It seems to me at least plausible that having learnt from experience that burnt (ie ‘cooked’) flesh was more tasty, the topic would inevitably have come up for discussion among early hominids with proto-language, and that they would have found ways to master the skills required. That to me seems more likely than the other way round.

  4. Edmond Furter says:

    You speculate that “early hominids had proto-language and [proto] skills”. What on earth is an ‘original’ language? What and where is the supposed ‘origin’ of language? There are several different San Bushman languages, each with several forebears. We should drop the ‘proto’ fiction (as in ‘Proto’ ‘Indo-European’) and the ‘origin’ fiction. There is no ‘original’ myth (I have criticised Witzel and his laughable premises and conclusions elsewhere), no ‘original’ ritual, calendar, art, culture, language, or civilisation. Each medium, and each work, is perpetually original, convergent to the bio environment, with correspondences mistaken as ‘diffusion’.
    Culture measured by behaviour did not change, and never will. Culture measured by artefacts change only in technology (forging new words from the same old meanings and sounds).
    Steam and electricity did not change culture. People BC 20 000 could build machines, but did not have the numbers, the specialisation, or the need to do so.
    Bushmen, the oldest extant polity and genes, are as intelligent, skilled, spiritual, symbolic, mythic, ritualised, verbal, and cultured as anyone.
    Civilisation (villages, organisations, writing) does not change the media or core content of culture. I offer evidence of the archetypal structure in cultural media, from art in Mindprint 2014, evidence from built sites in Stoneprint 2016, evidence from iconography in Blueprint 2019, evidence from rock art in several articles in the anthropology journal Expression, evidence from myth cycles and ritual sites in Stoneprint Journal 7: Hercules, Arcadia, and Greece myth maps, here is a link: https://stoneprintjournal.wordpress.com/2021/01/16/hercules-arcadia-and-greece-myth-maps/
    Technology always had the benefit of language, but geniuses are born at a predictable rate and re-invent applications (for example clocks), some after their maturity curve time, some on time, some before their time. Language and culture did not change, and are indeed complete.
    Language is a given medium thanks to natural differences between sounds, and natural differences between meanings, and natural senses and perception. We did not invent Language. Languages change only in style, which is a meaningless layer. Language was never less or more than its own limited capacity. Language remains less than the capacity of our layers of consciousness, serving as a limited tool of conscious logic, and a limted medium for semi-conscious symbolism.
    Writing formats developed, not evolved. Eastern languages use more inflections instead of phonemes. This is a styling option enabled by Language. Wanting to sound different from the next polity and class, is standard behaviour. Digital writing is merely an application. Writing does not change language much.
    Civilisation does not change language.
    Your “clue to the origin[?] of language” is based on the false logic of “it’s what you would logically expect.” This is not science. Where is the evidence that language “shift from analog sounds to digital combinations”?
    Languages are conservative, but not due to “elders to scold them.”
    You speculate that “language overcomes fear of fire”, but why not fear of animals or death?
    You speculate that “experience of cooked food is more tasty”, but how did cooking, or sugar, change language? Not even Levi-Strauss proposed pre-cooked or post-cooked language.
    Your comments confirm that human sciences rely on inadequately theorised anthropology. I admire your initiative to use statistical data to develop linguistics, but trans-disciplinary (tD) studies should beware of the immature state of anthropology.

    1. Simon Prentis says:

      See my response posted on the AOM message board.

    2. Séamus+Casey says:

      Excellent article & some credible critical arguments.
      You gentlemen certainly have ‘the gift of the gab’, lol.
      Since it’s only our deductive reasoning &intuition dat can guess at the questions of our distant past, based on our accumulated knowledge;(run on sentence, run on) perhaps it was a gift, as an IBM VP told me in 1996, that the Transistor was a gift in 1951, from whom?, I’d hafta guess, as he was legally unable to reveal the source.
      So perhaps language too, was a gift? One never know do one? Reminds me of those ancient altar boy mystical days:
      “In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis.”
      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word became Flesh, and dwelt amongst us.

  5. Edmond Furter says:

    I have moved my last comment to the relevant Author of the Month column.

  6. Joe says:

    Interested in your book, Simon! I wrote a thesis for a linguistics MA that you might be interested in (link below). It’s called “Semantic Structures and the Consequences of Complexity: The Evolutionary Emergence of Grammar” and aligns very well, I think, with the discussion here.


    1. Simon Prentis says:

      Hi Joe – sorry to be so slow in replying to your post, but as this message board is much less responsive than the AOM forum I had been concentrating my attention there, and missed this until today. I took a look at your thesis and it does indeed agree very well with the points I am trying to make, if argued from a more carefully academic perspective. I don’t know if you are familiar with the work of the evolutionary game-theorist Martin Nowak in this area, but in doing my early research I found this paper interesting: http://www.pnas.org/content/96/14/8028. My purpose in writing about this in my book was really to outline in very broad brush-strokes a possible mechanism for the evolution of language that could be understood as a process that emerged from existing animal communication (especially given Chomsky’s collapsing of UG down to, essentially, simple recursion), and then use that as a jumping-off point to explore how language drove most of everything else that makes us human. I make a stab at summarising my position in my last post on the AOM message board, if you’re interested. So thanks for posting, and do let me know what you make of the book in due course! Simon

  7. Peter says:

    Before the internet thier was already wifi .before humans thier was wifi .before this world was created thier was wifi .mothier nature created this world and she created us .and wifi she used to comunicate directly with us and us with her .are mind is mothier nature .when we think we sugest it to are mind and then she returns us with the anser .same as google .google search .mind thinks .but they both do the same job .find you the anser or info that you ask for .along time ago some think was watching humans .and it spoted some think .it was not luck or skill that we survied .some think was helping us and provideing the sitution for us to find what we need .food .but to make life intersting and a bit of a adveture .thier is ups and downs .days and normal days .the down days are short and end with a normal we have most and up days only get if you have save up points in karma .which the church worked out a long time ago how it works .karma you rewards you when she records people praiseing you for what you did .to help some one .karma only does good not bad .so you go to church and praise the god for every think .the food home health thanking god for every think .and then you except the blame for killing jesus and you are praying for forgivnes for your sin .and then just to make sure karma gives you nothink .you go abd eat jesus body of christ .mothier nature .is not going to be spoiling you this week .but the jokers in the church well all karma reports arw of people thanking them all day for the food and every think such kind men .ye thats the game they play .abd it is all a game .silco chip .ha thier is nothink in it .all the info comes from mothier nature .they just worked out how to tap in to it .they never worked it out .she told them and they think it was thier idea .everh think come from are mind .and it mothier nature that puts the info thier .you must of realized at some point that what you think were does it come from .i can seperate my self from my body and listen to my mind through my own voice .ye its a difernt view to form a new opion on what your talking about .its just all about timeing .we think its are ideas its not its just are voice .and we dont notice that the mind is telling us what to say .because we say it at the same time almost .the mind is first but it not measurble .some times we can talk with out the mind .it only likes to jump in when it intersting if its juat daily cup of tea ye go on .the the mind lets you be the boss .until you spill your tea . Thier lots the mind want to tell you but im falling asleep .so open your mind and think of nothink its not easy to do as the nind will keep saying things to disturb you .as the mind doesnt like to be quite .not in a bad way .its more like a spolit kid way .when you ask them to be quits your watching tv .and they have to as well when does it finish how long about .well is it near the end or the beging .thats a board mind .mi mind hides from me becauae i know it knows ecery think thier is to know .and thier are many things we shouldnt know as it spoils the game .but it never bothiers me but it would spoil it for most people .yoko knows all about it .and the who the mind is the yokia .they are the creaters for mothier nature .the invisible providers .aka the wombles .i almost forgot if you know john lamb .litle botts .ask he if he could use plain tx . As thats the main problem we are having to many difernt laugue and synbles .and formats .i donf know what you think mothier nature is a computer .she is every think .and can do every think but thier is a lot she is doing that she doesnt need to do .

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