After Class Writing: Nicholas Wade’s “Early Voices: The Leap to Language”

Before our next class, post a comment to this blog post of at least 250 words that summarizes the reading and lecture from Thursday’s class. Remember, I am looking for best effort on your part. Everything that you write should relate to the reading and lecture, which might include your personal experiences, anecdotes, things learned in other classes, etc. Feel free to write more than 250 words so that you get more writing practice.

Before posting your summary as a comment to this blog post, please save your writing somewhere else (Google Docs, flash drive, your computer’s hard drive, etc.). Keeping backups of your work is a professional habit to get into that will contribute to your success.

22 thoughts on “After Class Writing: Nicholas Wade’s “Early Voices: The Leap to Language””

  1. In Nicholas Wade’s article, “Early Voices: The Leap to Language,” he discusses how new research (of that time: 2003) in the areas of archaeology, genetics and human behavior have led scientists, to include linguists, to re-examine the origins of language. In researching Mr. Wade, I found he is a British journalist and author who emigrated to the U.S. in 1970, and had written for the New York Times from 1982 up until his retirement in 2012. It makes sense that this research would appeal to him as he himself is a proponent of human evolution via genetic variation. He speaks of Noam Chomsky, who is known as “the father of modern linguistics”, in terms of how Chomsky’s reticence on such research has “discouraged interest…among theoretical linguists”. However, as we discussed in class, Chomsky is a scientist, and so while he doesn’t impugn speculation on language’s origins by evolutionary psychologists, he does prefer to pursue research that is quantifiable. Despite this, most linguists have realized that in order to really learn about and understand language’s origins, they need to approach it in an interdisciplinary way and involve other domains of knowledge in order to achieve new discoveries.

    On the subject of Chomsky, we also discussed that he proposed that some part of the brain enables children to absorb and create sounds and language, and he was the first to gather evidence to support this contention. I found it interesting to learn just how similar all languages are in that they share a similar syntax, what Chomsky called a “universal grammar”. I figured that similar languages, such as all Romance languages for example, would have a similar syntax; I didn’t realize that languages with completely different alphabets, such as Russian or Mandarin, would also have the same mental grammar as, say, English- or as any other language.

    Wade cites many scholars in his article, most of whom have exemplary careers and credentials, and one of whom who does not. Marc Hauser, a former psychologist at Harvard, was found to have doctored some of his research results in the past. As a result, this tainted all of his research results, including those cited in the article. However, that said, the article still contains valid points on the potential origins of language, and I feel the inclusion of a citation on Mr. Hauser’s work does not invalidate the other legitimate research discussed. I appreciated being reminded to do my research also and not to just accept an article at face value.

    I think most of us have been taught in biology classes about Charles Darwin and his evolutionary theory of “natural selection”. Natural selection is an animal’s ability to survive by reproducing, usually because that animal has a genetic advantage of some sort over his competition, most often brought about by mutation. Thus when its offspring is produced, they will also have this advantageous mutation or trait. What I hadn’t learned before and thought was pretty interesting was the prevalence of sexual selection, and that is based purely on traits that appear attractive to a mate, but not necessarily helpful to survival, e.g. a male peacock’s plumage. It seems counterproductive to an animal’s survival, and yet just being attractive has enabled the most colorful male peacocks to thrive (and survive) in just that way.

    The article also speaks to the needs of humans to congregate and socialize as well as to know their place in their own society. So, in addition to language potentially being brought about to help early humans survive, research is showing that language may have been key to satisfying our innate needs for sociality and to help define our standing within a hierarchical family.

    I think my takeaway, in addition to the fascinating research discussed about proto-languages, socialization, the human genome and DNA, among others, is that biology and evolution don’t have to be mutually exclusive with linguistics. In fact, I think those disciplines must come together to find conclusive evidence on the origin of language.

  2. Evolutionary psychology is the study of how human beings became mentally and cognitively human. It theorizes that natural selection may have played a role in humans developing traits such as memory, perception, and language. Nicholas Wade’s article, “Early Voices: The Leap to Language”, discusses the importance of the evolutionary process to the development of language. It is more than likely that the two driving forces for language were survival and sex. To be more specific, a combination of natural selection and sexual selection worked together to produce traits that help humans speak. Dr Bickerton believes that the catalyst for modern language happened when human ancestors began foraging. They needed a way to explain to others what they had found and more complex language was required. Dr. Dunbar noticed that social animals such as monkeys spend a large amount of time grooming one another. This doesn’t just help to keep them clean it helps to build social relationships among monkeys in the group. However, as groups grow larger individual attention becomes harder and harder to come by. Therefore, Dr. Dunbar believes that as human societies grew larger and larger more complex language evolved as a way to create better more solidified relationships. During these changes caused by natural and sexual selection humans eventually developed what Dr. Noam Chomsky refers to as “Universal Grammar”. Eventually all languages developed a similar syntax or specific way of ordering words into meaningful sentences using recursion and self references. The article also discusses the importance of linguists and biologist working together. It is possible that we may never know exactly when or what caused human language to evolve into what it is today but the more biologist and linguist come together to research the topic the more we will be able to understand in the future.

  3. For many years, linguists have avoided the subject about the origins of language. Mostly because of the influence of Noam Chomsky who is referred to as “the father of modern linguistics” who has also kept silent about the origins of language. In Nicholas Wade’s article, “Early Voices: The Leap to Language “, he talks about the different theories of where and how language may have started with research being discovered back in 2003. This research includes clues from archaeology, genetics and human behavioral ecology. With this new research, linguists have decided to join in. Some of the theories discussed in the article are that click language might have been one of the first languages. This was reported by Genetics back in March that there was a separation between two ancient human populations which were !Kung of southern Africa and the Hadza of Tanzania. Both of these populations spoke click languages which is made by “sucking the tongue down from the roof of the mouth (and denoted by an exclamation point), serve the same role as consonants.” Another theory that was presented was by Dr. Richard Klein of Stanford who researches the archeological and fossil evidence for the evolution of human behavior. “That genetic change, he suggests, was of such a magnitude that most likely it had to do with language, and was perhaps the final step in its evolution. If some neural change explains the appearance of fully modern human behavior some 50,000 years ago, ”it is surely reasonable to suppose that the change promoted the fully modern capacity for rapidly spoken phonemic speech,” Dr. Klein has written.” According to Dr. Derek Bickerton of the University of Hawaii who specializes in the study of pidgins, believes that humans might have spoken proto-language which is the use of words without any syntax. Dr. Michael Corballis, a psychologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand believe that gestures came first and that language came later. With all these theories being presented, we only have more questions than answers. Which came first, gestures or words? What was the first language ever spoken? There is still more research to be done on this subject and whatever we find, I’m sure it will be fascinating.

  4. Nicholas Wade’s article, Early Voices: The leap to language gives the reader insight on some of the possible early traits to the first forms of language and how we think language developed. From what I learned from summarizing the article in class there were two phrases in developing the language system we see today. The first phase was the actual process of human ancestors communicating with gestures and having a need to pass information. Chimpanzees used noises and gestures to warn each other, gather, and move together these were natural selection traits and the first phrase in the evolution of language. Dr. Michael Corballis believed gestures came before the ability to speak and the ability to speak was genetically created a little bit of 100,000 years ago after they learned how to walk on two feet.

    Nicholas Wade mentioned multiple revered scientists, but perhaps the most revered name was Noam Chomsky the father of modern linguistics and cognitive scientist. He introduced the concept called universal grammar which is the process of how the front and back parts of the brain help children learn sounds that contribute to their words, children over time acquire a set of rules for grammar (syntax). When you connect this with evolutionary psychology (how we mentally and cognitively became humans) this seems like one part of the process of becoming human. Our human ancestors could not gesture in the dark so when the learned to speak the went under the process of learning syntax and forming sentences to express ourselves to future mates and warn people easier. I feel universal language plays a big role in the development the language system we see today. We all have words, gestures, and phrases that represent something that people from all over the world understand such as romance, sadness, or danger.

  5. Every time human evolution takes a step further, we would adopt new knowledge mentally and physically. In Nicholas Wade article, ” Early Voices: The Leap to Language,” one predominant concept has been transformed over human’s evolution is the human language. The evolution human involves in many cases; language syntax is one of the evolutions of the language. It provides the order of words in the sentence to specify the meaning; it developed recently with modern language. By combining syntax and language, it advances our thoughts with its coding system. However, language requires two elements incorporate together, which is the natural selection and the sexual selection. Natural selection was related to survival trades, and sexual selection is the sub-section of natural selection. Those two types of selections help human create a more complicated relationship compared to the previous. The “Universal Grammar” is the term which Dr. Noam Chomsky mentioned natural selection, and sexual selections evolve. It sustains the language by using syntax, and it elaborates the specific meaning into to make sense in a sentence. Young children adopts syntax more efficient compared to adults. It helps us to advance our speech comprehension and demands our society. Dr. Noam Chomsky is a significant linguist figure; his evidential theory states how people communicate over language syntax. The main point of his theory is the concept all human languages started from the same place, language syntax is hardwiring in humans mind, and it helps human thoughts evolve. Therefore, Dr. Noam Chomsky’s evidential theory reveals the importance of human understanding.

  6. In Nicholas Wade’s “Early Voices: The Leap to Language”, he discusses the development of mentality in human beings. Have you ever wondered whether it was gestures or words that came first? Psychologist Dr. Michael Corballis believes that gesture came first as soon as our ancestors were able to walk on two legs and use their hands freely. Wade mentions the importance of evolutionary processes which led to development of language. Those processes include natural selection for survival, and sexual selection. Both the natural and sexual selection aid in humans being able to communicate and survive within a growing population. For example, as discussed in the article, chimpanzees use about 30 different gestures to refer to other individuals and not only do picking each others’ flea keeps them well groomed, but also creates social relationships. Once the group of chimpanzees continue to expand, eventually there won’t be enough time for one chimp to groom every single individual within the group. Dr. Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist, believes that as language evolved, it helped to bring large communities together. Language also helps a group to recognize others within their group as well as outsiders.
    Dr. Noam Chomsky in Wade’s article explains how “universal grammar”, which is 5 to 6 thousand languages sharing similar syntax for word arrangement into sentences has created evolutionary changes. It has also been said that young children learn languages at an exceptionally fast pace compared to adults. What we know for sure is that as humans continue to evolve, so will their language.

  7. The article “Early Voices: The Leap to Language” by Nicholas Wade looks at the origins of language and some of the research and theories that have been proposed as to how language came to be. Wade discusses several theories proposed by various linguists concerning the evolutionary origin and purpose of language. Like other evolved traits, it’s likely that language was developed based on the need for a system more complex than animalistic alarms, but experts disagree over what need was foremost filled by language and why it became preferable for humans to be capable of complex language. Some experts suggest language was a mate evolution trait, while others suggest it promoted social interaction, and still others suggest it became necessary with the evolution of complex gathering.
    Wade also notes how Noam Chomsky, a prominent linguist, has influenced this area of linguistics paradoxically by not influencing it at all. Because Chomsky believes that the current data lacks support to do more than guess as to the origins of language, he’s spent little time or effort on that question. Thus, those who support Chomsky have adopted a sense of disdain towards those who continue to ponder the origins of language, and the factionism of academia has made it difficult for prominent researchers to pursue the subject without alienating these Chomsky supporters. Since then, Chomsky has made motions towards the origins of language, perhaps partially to defuse tensions over the subject. It’s fascinating how the actions, or inactions, of a single person can so deeply influence an entire field of academics.

  8. In the article “Early Voices: The Leap to Language,” Nicholas Wade discusses different segments of language and how language came to be around. He first talks about how different animals have distinctive features to them. He discusses that “chimpanzees form coalitions against rivals,” and that the ants that cut down leaves for food “practice agriculture.” He states that the distinctive feature for humans is language. Further in this article, he states that linguists see language as a two-step process: input and output. He states that the output can not only be speech but gestures. This is related to the discussion we had in class. As New Yorkers we are so accustomed to using our hands to express how we feel, not necessarily in a violent way, but just to exemplify and emphasize what we’re saying. This is a debatable topic because people from different states or countries might not use the gestures that we use, or even use it at all. So, Wade brings up this question by saying “How then did the encoding system evolve in the human descendants of the common ancestor of chimps and people?” This allows for the further research of: do chimps use gestures too? And in Wade’s article, Dr. Michael Corballis answers this by stating that chimpanzees have about thirty different gestures used to refer to other individuals. He believes that a genetic change allowed for humans to manipulate language, turn it into speech and perfect it as a separate system, not directly associated with gestures. For example, when we talk about something that happened physically, we use gestures to show what happened, but we use speech to say what happened. Language is a very complex system to understand as Wade states in his article, and it is made up of many parts; gestures, speech, input/output.

  9. The article written by Nicholas Wade titled, “Early Voices: The Leap to Language” gives us a brief overview at the research and findings that had been done in relation to language. Moreover, it also gives us an inside on language and how it really begins. Author mentions two definitions proto-language and met-thought. Proto-language is basically the grammar and ability to put the words together in order to form the sentence. Meta-though is the thought about though, the ability to think of something while thinking. The article also discusses the important of evolutionary processes to the development of language, and in connection to the evolutionary part of that is natural selection. In addition, what interest me was the communication between animals, how by just being able to give different alarms and signals they are able to communicate with each other. Moreover, the articles discuss that language came to be due to the social reactions between animals, and not only, people today by having more social interaction between each other. According to the article language comes to be a something that just comes automatically. The way we speak sometimes we don’t think bout what an item is we just speak it out.

    Lastly, in class we also discussed Noam Chomsky. He is a significant figure in 2000s linguistics universal grammar. He was able to show that syntax is shared among many languages around the world. The author of the article mentions Chomsky and how greatly appreciate he is within the linguistics area of study. He thrives to find out more about the language we all speak.

  10. Jessica L. Roman
    ENG 1710

    Nicholas Wade’s “Early Voices: The Leap to Language” begins by stating language is the only ability that is unique to humans, this is backed by our previous class readings. The focus of this article however has to do with the origins of language, human proto-language, genetics and how cooperation between the hard and soft sciences is needed to make meaningful progress in this area.

    Wade follows by explaining that historically linguists have not been invested in research concerning the origins of languages. While he does mention Noam Chomsky’s position and influence as a factor in recent lack of interest, it must be noted these sentiments were around long before Dr. Chomsky. As mentioned in the article and discussed in class the reason Chomsky, and others, never made a clear stance on his position concerning the origins of language has more to do with that fact there has not been solid evidence from which to study and research.

    From here the article takes an interesting turn and begins to breakdown the idea that evolution and survival where the catalysts for language development in humans. We expanded on this in class by discussing the impact natural selection, sexual selection, communication and demands of sociality have on our evolution. While many animals have means of communication it is usually just calls, warning, identifiers of individuals, humans are the only ones with the ability to take our thoughts, turn them into speech and understand said speech and its meaning. The rest of the article goes into the role of genetics, the brain, and a family known as KE who are struggle with the human language and the positions and counter positions of various academics in the field.

    While the article itself is full of interesting information and ideas the article served a much bigger purpose for our class. Our Professor used this article as a way to teach us that just because a work is from a reputable source that does not forgive us from doing our own research on the ideas and people reference in a work. While the vast majority of people mentioned had careers and credentials that would justify their mention, one particular person, Dr. Marc Hauser, was accused of academic misconduct some years after this article. Unfortunately, this brought his work, including work done in collaboration with others, under speculation. This was very eye opening as no one in our class caught this. While perhaps all the work referenced to Dr. Hauser, Dr. Chomsky and Dr. Fitch may be completely valid as responsible parties of what we cite in our writing it may be in the best interest to avoid mention of this work because of the actions of Hauser.

  11. Nicholas Wade’s “Early Voices: The Leap to Language” delivers the theories and possibilities on why we developed language in the first place. Using recognized and well-reputed linguists in his article, he goes over each of their proposed theories on our evolution and the development of language. One of these theories were based on Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection and a component in it, Sexual Selection. The theory goes that Natural Selection could have helped humans with language to keep surviving and further improving upon it, but with Sexual Selection (which is a part of Natural Selection), language was a means of getting a mate. It was “peacocking” that allowed language to continue because the males with that ability would attract a mate. Another theory included is the need for a more complex system of communication than cries and alarms like that of some animals to warn of predators. Another possibility would be for gathering and describing something with time included, such as were food WAS prior to the current time. A big one is the social need for language. Language could assist in growing societies by helping you know your place in the hierarchy or identifying certain members of the group (or outsiders). While the article gives very good points, there was one linguist who tarnished his reputation and made the article appear invalid since he was included, also affecting the reputation of all other collaborators. The article still holds very good points though and should be given a read.

  12. In Nicholas Wade`s Early Voices: The Leap to Language, he discusses how language is critical to human society and its possible origins and how it became the language we use today. The article discusses how we got to the language we used today. One of the ways was through natural selection, only the strongest will survive to carry on what they know. Another way of how language got to be what it is today is sexual selection. This ties in with natural selection, those who survive can reproduce and pass on what they know to there offspring and so forth. And finally, through the human demand of sociality, meaning that people need people to move forward and progress. One of the most notable linguists quoted in this was Dr. Chomsky, he believed that grammar is innate and that all humans should be able to learn it.
    In our in-class discussion we spoke for a little on the beginnings of the article. It was about the possibly of human language from to 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. I never actually took those numbers into account, but now looking at them that’s a really long time ago and to think the possibility that the words, the letters, symbols could have originated from hundreds of years ago. Another thing I really was fascinated about was the amount of people he cited, there were over 10 linguists cited in this one article alone. Then toward the end of the article I was finally able to understand what a linguist and a biologist both have in common, it was evolution.

  13. The article “Early Voices: The Leap to Language,” Nicolas Wade discusses the origins of human language. The article states that for the longest time linguists had no desire to seek out the origin of human language. Recent linguists’ lack of pursuit of the topic is attributed to the famous linguist Noam Chomsky’s apparent disinterest of it. It is quite baffling that one man’s lack of interest in a topic discourages a whole field to not pursue the discovery of such an important question: where did language originate? However, up until recently there have been more findings giving us clues to languages origins giving us clues to language’s origin. It was discovered that the first possible human language is that of the click language spoken by both the Kung and the Hadea. This then leads to a fascinating point where around fifty thousand years ago, man took the next leap in its evolution. To have language be the catalyst for early humanities leap to forming not only a cohesive society, but also to our own modern language is remarkable. How early man went from speaking in clicks to there being around five thousand languages worldwide is just astonishing. An interesting point in the article is the belief that language was spoken for early man’s survival. The necessity of it was paramount to their survival through their ability to properly communicate for whatever purpose. Another interesting point was made by Noam Chomsky in where he said that in the five thousand languages in the world, they all share a similar syntax for arranging words into meaningful sentences. The ability for whomever, speaking whatever, being able to properly contrast coherent sentences just speaks to our common capabilities. We all share the same ability no matter the language. This capability was likely the result of natural selection. Our ancestors had no choice but to adapt and invent speech to serve their needs.

  14. In the article, “Early Voices: The Leap to Language,” written by Nicholas Cage, elaborates on the controversial origin of language. The New York Times article uses input of the principal linguistic, Noam Chomsky, who believes that people are born with a innate knowledge of language. His research tends to be a debatable concept between biologist and linguist who view language in unlike ways.
    Biologist agree with the science of FOXP2, a protein that humans acquired for speech and language. This gene provides biological evidence of speech communication. This powerful protein evolutized the human causing a natural selection of genes. Humans were able to use this communication trait for procreation. Changes caused by evolution also included larynx size and shape differences. This changed the forms or sounds in which words are conveyed.
    In addition, Cage uses the knowledge of Dr. Marc Hauser, a specialist in Animal Communication Studies. Examples include Chimpanzees who are able to recognize and use at least 30 symbols for communication. Their communication allowed for flourishing communities. They are able to groom, eat and reproduce among each other. Again, language is a survival trait used among myriad species.
    Humans also communicate nonverbally with gestures. I have often used my eyes to say “hey watch out for that guy.” In this form, I have helped people on the train become aware of a possible danger. Gestures can also be used during verbal socialization to show empathy or excitement. It is often acquired with experience.
    Language comes in numerous forms. Therefore, its origin is difficult to define.

  15. In the reading of “Early Voices: The leap to language” the author Nicholas Wade, makes an opinionated statement that immediately intrigued me, “The only major talent unique to humans is language, the ability to transmit encoded thoughts from the mind of one individual to another”. The passage sets the tone for the whole article, in which biologist and linguist come together to share their different worlds in an effort to identify the genetic program that generates words and syntax. What I found interesting was although the author had stated that language was the unique attribute that differed humans from animals. The research conducted by a Harvard psychologist Dr. Marc Hauser concluded that many components of the language faculty exist in other animals, suggesting that animals have more to teach about language. Chimpanzees and Humans for one, share the ability to use hand gestures as a form of language. Humans unconsciously use a hand gesture, even during phone calls, Chimpanzees are similar in that they have at least 30 different gestures. Since the essence of language is words and syntax, both of which is generated by the combinatorial system, that no other animal possesses. Animal communication cannot be called language since they lack hierarchical ordering of words in a sentence to govern their meaning. Another interesting read in the article is about how a single defective gene has such a broad effect on human inheritance and language. The gene is called FOXP2, its activities in the brain during fetal development is the switching on of other genes. This gene gives an entry point to geneticist on the genetic and neural basis for language. Researchers could use this gene to map the circuitry involved in language systems, simply by working out what other genes it interacts with and what the neural systems of these genes control. During the reading, I found a question that I myself was wondering “how did the encoding system evolve in the human descendants of the chimps and people?”, in which the author provided a linguist to tackle the question, Dr. Derek Bickerton who suggested that this evolution of encoding was developed when human ancestors left the security of the forest and started foraging on the savanna, these humans had to report back to others in the forms of symbols, which started a sort of coding system.

  16. In the New York times piece “Early Voices: The leap to language,” by Nicholas Wade’s in which he discuss the evolution of language and communication throughout time. He uses lots of researches and view point from known linguists, such as Dr. Frederick J. Newmeyer, Dr. Derek Bickerton, Dr. Jackendoff and others. In the introduction Nicholas Wade said “The only major talent unique to humans is language, the ability to transmit encoded thoughts from the mind of one individual to another.” Throughout the article linguist elaborate on their view on language and communication, the outlier factor which cause human to be the only animal able to produce language. Wade went on to say “But other animals do communicate.” Since most animals are not fortunate enough to use language; however, they do communicate using signals. “Language, as linguists see it, it’s more than input and output,” he said, “since its output can be entirely in gestures, as in American Sign Language.” Monkeys communicate with sign as some of us do, but the difference is the level of complexity. Our thought process allow us to use a wide variety of sign, when other animals are only able to communicate few sign or symbol, up to 400 or so. “They lack the system for encoding these thoughts in language.” As humans are able encoded thoughts into language, “Even the average high school student has a vocabulary of 60,000 words.” In one language that is. This ability of producing language have improve over time, but it isn’t entirely new, according to Dr. Bickerton “Humans may have been speaking proto-language, essentially the use of words without syntax, as long as two million years ago.” We are not sure how long language been around, but we certainly know it has been improve non stop, and will not stop to do so.

  17. In his article, “Early Voices: The Leap to Language”, author Nicholas Wade allows tht reader to visualize the early stages of language and communication and how natural selection played a crucial role in the development of communication among human beings to the present day. Going into his article the author mentions that researchers were studying the alert calls of Vervet monkeys. In addition it is mentioned that unlike human being, animals are not able to physically speak to each other but do have their own forms of communication. While studying the Vervet monkeys, the reachers came to realize that they have different calls for different predation. For example, when the monkeys made the alert call for snakes, they would check the ground or when they made the call for an eagle they would check the sky. Alongside that, researcher have also discovered that over 100,000 years ago human beings who lived in the Kung of Southern Africa and the Hadza of Tanzania would speak in click languages and gestures. This served as a. Form of early communication and how natural selection as well as sexual selection played a major role in the language of human beings. One of the many doctors that he mentions in his article, Dr.Bickerton, mentions the concept of proto-language and full-fledged syntax. He mentions that as far back as two million years ago, human beings would communicate without the need of syntax based on their location. Mentioning the idea of how humans lived in the forest as their form of civilization makes it clear that they were in a secluded area so the need for communication without context wasn’t necessary. It was only until humans pushed towards the savanna as their form of civilization and the need for them to pass on information, is where it became necessary for that form of communication to evolve.

  18. On Thursday February 6th when we discussed the complications in Genie, the feral girl’s early childhood and adolescence that prohibited her from developing a socially appropriate grasp of language and communication skills. We also spoke of how it can relate to the article by Nicholas Wade “Early Voices: The Leap to Languages” where they talk about the process that must have taken place for humans to develop language skills, and how humans are the only animals to develop language. Using the research Linguists such as Noam Chomsky, Frederick J. Newmeyer, Ray Jackendoff, Richard Klein and several Psychologists he questions the relation between the ability to communicate and speak are complicated skills that needed generations to perfect from the proto language. “Dr. Bickerton developed the idea that a proto-language must have preceded the full-fledged syntax of today’s discourse.” The reading says that humans first used this proto language and gestures as means to communication, and that gestures must have been the main form of communication for a time before speech. Remencient of Chimpanzees who can learn approximately four hundred symbols, gesturing when communicating is still rooted into human habits such as ‘talking with your hands’ or making gesture over the phone such as shaking your head or waving your hands. Dr Steven Pinker believes that language plays a part in natural selection, which I do not disagree with and if put into average social context people make judgement based on a person’s diction. And some individuals are attracted to accents and patterns of speech. Though it is not always a factor when it comes to choosing dome one for some it can be a deciding factor. Genie’s abuse and neglect through her childhood stripped her of the opportunity to learn these skills and social skills at an early age having no stimulant human contact as have many other cases of feral children which is a show of how language rather than purely human it is a purely social construct an without someone to convey anything to it is unnecessary. Language only became a necessity after she was introduced to other people and they needed to communicate with her.

  19. To: Professor Jason Ellis
    FROM: Ronald C. Hinds
    DATE: February 13, 2018
    SUBJECT: Summary- Early Voices: The Leap of Language

    A validation of the concept of universal grammar, which constitutes the innate component of the human language faculty that leads to normal dialectical development, can be seen by the way children acquire linguistic capacity. Dr. Ray Jackendoff, president of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), 2003, and president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, argued against the concept of universal grammar because of the apparent non-existence of an evolutionary argumentation. Nicolas Wade’s piece titled “Early Voices: The Leap of Language” articulates the importance of the evolutionary processes to the development of language and Wade bemoans the “curious exception of linguists”-their seeming lack of interest- to this idea. Wade notes that a linguist affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Steven Pinker, a linguist, cognitive psychologist and popular science author, acknowledged that language could be associated with natural selection.
    Dr. Noam Chomsky, educator and linguist, opined as early as the 1970s that the “ability to learn the rules of grammar is innate.” His reticence with regard to any further exposition on this question, in spite of his pre-eminence in this field of study, had a chilling effect on a full examination of this issue. Dr. Frederick J. Newmeyer, the president of the LSA, 2002, and linguist, said that Chomsky’s position served to discourage interest. Various schools of thought, however, foster an interdisciplinary approach that is necessary for linguistic masturbation.
    Language is a living and breathing organism and many erstwhile and notorious personages have weighed in on the subject. Wade observers that Dr. Derek Bickerton argued that human beings may have been speaking proto-language, the use of words without syntax, as long as 2 million years ago. This seems to bolster the question of evolutionary argumentation. Chomsky talks about a rudimentary or primitive sentence; from this base he developed his argument that innumerable syntactic combinations can be generated by means of a complex series of rules. Recursion, for instance, is a fundamental cognitive property of language and a part of a human universal grammar.
    In 2002, Dr. Marc D. Hauser, an evolutionary biologist, teamed up in a collaborative (HCF) effort with Chomsky and Dr. W. Techumseh Fitch, cognitive scientist and evolutionary biologist, and jointly presented a set of propositions about the way language evolved. This effort included a framework stressing the importance of an empirical, comparative and interdisciplinary approach to understanding the evolution of language. In 2010, however, Dr. Hauser was found guilty of scientific misconduct. He resigned from Harvard University. This blemish has tainted his reputation in general, notwithstanding that his fall from grace had no association with this particular discourse.
    There are 7,000 languages in this world. One disappears about every 2 weeks. Recently, Swedish researchers recognized Jedek as a newly discovered language in Malaysia.
    As Nicholas Wade, intones, biologists and linguists inhabit different worlds. For many linguists, “language” delineates an abstract core of computational operations, probably unique to humans, from that of biologists and psychologists, for whom “language” has more general and various meanings.


    Wade, N. “Early Voices: The Leap of Language.” Science Section. New York Times, 15 July, 2003.
    Domonoske, C. “Linguists Discover Previously Unidentified Language In Malaysia.” International Section, NPR, 7 February, 2018. AM ed.
    Internet Source
    The Evolution of the Language Faculty – Harvard University…/hauser_evolutionlanguagefaculty.pdf?…

    Dialectical development
    Evolutionary argumentation

  20. In class we discussed the article “Early Voices: the Leap to Languages” by Nicholas wages. In this article, Wade explained the importance of language and communication introduction at an early age since it is critical to us to evolve as human being in this society. Also, he states that our evolution and language development go hand and hand with each other since we wouldn’t be what we are without language to communicate. Wade explains that natural selection and sexual selection work together to produce the ability for the human body and brain to allow us to produce and comprehend speech. Moreover, he states that when we think of human language we think of syntax, grammar, and organizing words in different ways.
    In addition, we mentioned in class Noam Chomsky point of view in literacy and evolution. Chomsky believes that language is inborn so pretty much there is nothing peculiar about the origin we just got it. Chomsky lacks interest on where language came from and Wade debates Chomsky’s believes.
    One thing we discussed that really got my attention was the story of Genie. The psychological and physical affect she had most be surreal. When a person move to one environment to another it is very hard to adapt but the fact we can communicate one way or another make it easier to adapt. Genie didn’t even have the opportunity to do that since she lack knowledge in communication and her skills were drastically underdevelop to help her a bit.

  21. Early Language: The Leap to Language

    After reading Nicolas Wade’s “Early Language: The Leap to Language” In this we learn about possible influence to become what we now think of as language–syntax, grammar and everything that comes with it. “Early Language: The Leap to Language” is the epitome of the beginning of language. It goes all the way back to the Stone Age and Neanderthals and experts offered conflicting views on whether this primate group of people could speak. And that’s an interesting concept. I never thought about it too hard before but now I can’t seem to un-see it. At first glance, language seems to have appeared from nowhere, since no other species speaks. But other animals do communicate just like people do. “Geneticists reported in March that the earliest known split between any two human populations occurred between the !Kung of southern Africa and the Hadza of Tanzania. Since both of these very ancient populations speak click languages, clicks may have been used in the language of the ancestral human population. The clicks, made by sucking the tongue down from the roof of the mouth (and denoted by an exclamation point), serve the same role as consonants.” This was a great example of the early evolution of language. At first glance, language seems to have appeared from nowhere, since no other species speaks, but they do communicate–their own form of speaking.

  22. In Nicholas Wade’s article “Early Voices: The leap to language” He discusses the importance of the evolutionary development of a language. He demonstrates that no one actually knows how the language is originated and this is because language changes over-time. He also mentions that what makes us able to form a language and to communicate with each other better than animals ( in a sense ) is words since human have the capacity to combine the sounds together to form a sentence due to the fact that human have flexibility to create an infinite number of new words and meanings. When for animals is different and they have only a few sounds that they depend up-on. He had shown now the five to six thousand languages in earth has a common thing to help people form a sentence that could make sense. One of these common things that languages have in common, as we discussed in class is “grammar” since grammar in universal. In order for someone to speak a certain language they must know it’s grammar and also by interacting verbally with other people. This article also indicated a language called “Pidgin”. Based on my understanding of that word it means in a way people who travel to other countries that speak different languages than they originally speak and all they know is limited vocab and no true gramma. For instance, when slaves were brought to the United States, they definitely spoke differently from one another do to the fact that they were coming from different parts of the world and yet they were able to form a sentence; this proves that there is no original language and by interacting with one another and even knowing very few grammar, it is possible to form a sentence.

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