HOW AND WHY DID LANGUAGE
the institution whereby humans communicate and interact with each other by
means of habitually used oral-auditory arbitrary symbols.' (Hall. 196-ll'A
language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which the numbers
of a society interact in terms of their total culture'(Trager, 1949) Language
is a system of sounds, words, patterns, etc. used by humans to communicate
thoughts and feelings.' (Oxford Advanced Leamer's Dictionary. 1989) 'Language
is a patterned system of arbitrary sound signals. Characterized by structure
dependence, creativity, displacement, duality, and cultural transmission.' (Aitcheson.
1987) (we discuss some of these features in later sections) One of the best
ways to understand human language is to compare it with animal communication,
and to see where the similarities and differences lie. We will do that in a
while, but, before that, let us try to understand how and why language originated.
No one knows
exactly how' language originated. And because of this there is no dearth of
speculations about the origins of human speech. Let us briefly consider some of
these. The Divine Source Theory: According to one view, God created Adam and
"whatsoever Adam called every living creature that was the name thereof'
Hindu tradition language came from goddess Saraswati. In most religions, there
appears to be a divine source that provided humans with language. Generally,
every society has a divine story to tell about the origins of its language. We
also notice that the alpha6.ri.ut
symbols or ideographs used in writing are often associated with divine image
The Natural Sound Source Theory: Another view of the origin of human speech is
based on the concept of natural sounds. The theory suggests rat first words
were imitations of the natural sound which early men and women heard around
The fact that all languages have some words which seem to echo naturally occurring
sounds could have led to this theory. "Cuckoo". Buzz hiss bow-vow etc.,
are some examples from English. In fact this type of view has been called bow-wow
theory of language origin.
Although it is
true that a number of words in every language are echoic or onomatopoetic these
are few in number. Another argument against this theory is that our language
also seems to influence the way have heard and imitate the sounds of nature,
e.g., the roasters crow cock-a-doodle-doo' in English: 'kuku-ru-ka-roo in Hindi
and kikeriki in German.
Pooh-Pooh Theory: In i871, in his Descent of' Man .Darwin proposed that like
man himself. His language also developed from a more primitive form probably
from expressions of emotions. For example. a feeling of contempt is accompanied
by the action of puffing of air out through the nostrils or the mouth and this
action makes sounds like "pooh" or pish . The critics of Darwin’s Theory scornfully
named it. the Pooh-pooh theory.
Ding-Dong Theory: Muller a contemporary of Darwin proposed the dong dong theory of the origin
of the language. According to this theory there was a mystic relationship
between sound and meaning. There was an instinct in the primitive human being
by which every impression from without received a vocal expression from within.
Just as the particular sound is produced when any object is struck by a solid
body similarly human being’s mind gave a particular response to every impact
the world made upon it.