February 14, 2008

Some thoughts on languages, tongues and popo

Language is one of the highest forms of culture, and is one of the distinguishing factors, which separates the humans from the animals. Anthropologists and linguists in every sub-field imaginable have tried to pinpoint the origins of human speech and evolution of languages. There is the ta-ta theory, the ma-ma theory, the poo-poo theory, the motor skills of the brains of monkeys with those of humans in an attempt to discover the origin of languages. There are hundreds of hypothesis as to when and how languages came about. None of these scholars however can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that languages all stem from one common root but. But they often suggest that there probably was a common linguistic root. (NHK Radio)
If someone just came right out and told the world – yes, long ago there was only one language! Its called the Adamic language (after Adam the first man) All languages can trace their roots back to this, its most purest form. Nobody comes out and tells us this because not everyone believes in Adam. What we have instead is a scientific term used by linguists called the Nostratic tongue.
When we compare the similarities and dissimilarities of languages we are overwhelmed with the similarities. This suggests that there was such a thing as the Nostratic tongue Even when the apparently different languages Japanese and English, when compared show that there are too many similarities to think that there wasn’t some such common root. The next few paragraphs will show the similarities in the days of the week in Japanese and English then you decide how different they are.
A closer look suggests that all languages come from one and the same root. If we take a closer look at the way the information age is shaping the way we communicate in regards to language, it wouldn’t be too far amiss to say that although we might not be going back to the Adamic language, we might be headed towards a time when we again use only one language. The days of the week as denoted by the worlds languages share a similarity that is too alike to pass off as a mere coincidence. A comparison of words for the days of the week in English and Japanese show that there was a tongue from which languages sprang, it also showed how it digressed. The languages started changing as more and more people populated the earth. Then at some point the differences became so great that it gave rise to the birth of other languages (it actually necessitated them.) small of an example of the similarities in languages that several languages that the tongues of the world did indeed come from one source. 日 This is the Kanji for the word, Sun. Words that use radicals1 containing this ji2 日are related to or usually have something to do with things of the sun, bright things, things that give off light or radiate in someway. They are in someway related to words of light etc. These words also have the kanji hi in them.
Japanese isn't that difficult to read, but it is our predisposition to believe that it is so that makes it so difficult. In a sense we curse ourselves by cowering at the thought of eating sushi or of possibly deciphering the writing of the Chinese. If we don’t at least give it a try we will never know what we are missing. If there were only a few mentors that would encourage others to at least try to learn a language other than the standard French, Spanish and German could just show others as I had learned on my own. The learning of another language wouldn't be such a daunting or formidable task.
There seems to be so much more meaning contained in an ideograph than letters representing sounds that together represent meaning. Here is one example of a kanji that looks fairly difficult. This kanji is made in 9 strokes of the pen and after learning that 日means the sun, or signifies words related to the sun then we could make a fairly good estimate at what this next kanji means. 星 has the sun kanji in it as well as the kanji for the word to give birth, or umu. 生 is the kanji sei which depending on tense of the word means, life. In the future tense, it contains one other syllable mu. If we put 生and mu or む together you have Umu or in Japanese 生む. This according to Sanseido's Daily Concise Japanese- English Dictionary means 1. Umu means to bear a child, or to give birth to a baby or to spawn. 2. To lay eggs or spawn. (49) Now before reading the answer on pg. 8 take an educated guess at what you think the meaning might be. Think or ponder for a second how these two kanji put together make a different yet totally logical word out of two other words. Just like English prefixes and suffixes in words like lithograph, mean literally stone write, or engraving. The words birth of something and the word hi fused together make the word star. Now next time you see a couple of kanji just take a guess, your chances of being right are better than 50%.
Better than 50% chance is usually all that linguists worry about when trying to find the similarities of language. If you can guess more than 50% of the words given some system like the above then the language is said to be linguistically related.
There are 6 main language families from whence all other languages stem. These are the Indo-European, the Urallic, the Anuit-Eskimo, Tungusic, Malayo-Polynesian, Slavic, Altaic from whence Japanese, Korean, and Turkish come from
Since it has never been proven that there was one all mighty mother tongue, which by the way is called Nostratic tongue, it is fair to assume that there was one. The languages of the world although apparently can seem so different, and it is true that we are confounded by them, one culture are confounded by the words of another. The problem is, is that there is no proof because there is no evidence of the writings or digital recordings of ancient peoples to tell us that there really was only one language.
One thing we can say for fact is that there were fewer people. That is fairly obvious. Therefore on that assumption, we can assume that there were fewer languages than there are now. Can't we further say then that the further back we go there were still less and less people? Therefore as x (the number of people on the earth at any certain time) approaches 2, y =1. By definition, communication cannot take place without at least two persons. There isn't much need for language when there isn’t anybody to talk with. From 2 people perhaps came 16 others, children of those 2 people therefore now it is possible to start having different languages, but is that likely? If we hypothetically say that at one time there were 16 people on the earth how likely is it that there were more than one language spoken among them?
The languages that are on the earth and are used to communicate in our modern world today come down through the ages, going through countless transformations and alterations. “Just as there are no pure races, so also […] are there no unmixed languages. We know that Japanese, like every other language for which we have any firsthand evidence, has borrowed from many different languages in the course of its long history and development. (Miller 166) Languages borrow words from other languages and are influenced by their many interactions. Linguist Roy Miller in his book, Origins of the Japanese Language, tell us that at some time, a very long time ago the remote ancestors of the speakers of Turkish together with the remote ancestors of the speakers of Mongolian, Korean, Japanese and Tungusic functioned together in a common linguistically society or community. (Miller 51) The same seems to hold true for speakers of other languages as well. Languages stem from the Adamic or Nostratic source.
Here is a sample of some of the words that English has borrowed from other languages. Borrowed words are commonplace to all languages; here is a list of some of the words that English has borrowed.