Is Arabic the mother of all languages?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Michael, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    Yes we agree people were in AU from 40K BCE. As I said, it's just as likely they were blown from Africa - as it still happens to small boats even now.
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  3. skaught78 Registered Member

    What do you believe is so special about Mungo Lake?
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  5. zarlok Banned Banned

    50k BC is more likely. That's a trivial distinction, however. The problem is the mtDNA is completely distict from all modern mDNA genes. If you accept the mtDNA studies purported(exploited?) by the leftist commies masquarading as scientists in the 'out of africa' model, the very same science debunks the entire notion altogether.
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Okay, ya talked me into it. I just watched all 13 segments on YouTube.

    Very nicely done. On a par with the series by James Burke, Joseph Campbell and David Attenborough. Some very moving scenes. He kept encountering people with strong mythologies who couldn't relate to his scientific explanation of their origin. But then he handed those photos of the Chukchi to the Navajo family and they started seeing the faces of their friends and relatives. That was really sweet.

    The research is certainly definitive for migration patterns and ethnic relationships. It shakes up some old theories, but doesn't actually knock most of them down. For the most part it fills in some gaps, straightens out some wrinkles and explains some anomalies, No one's had a really solid picture of the migration of the Australians before and this finally settles the question. It explains the isolation of the Chinese and the strangely slow pace of human migration into Europe. Finally we see that there were two major waves of migration out of Africa, which makes sense out of the apparent boundary between two peoples in India.

    It wasn't long enough to go into some of the details I was looking for. About 25 years ago, before DNA analysis was affordable, a team of a dentist, a doctor and a linguist looked at the dental patterns, blood types and languages of the Americas and determined that there had been three waves of migration from Siberia in 14000, 6000 and 4000BCE, but they all started in very nearly the same place in central Asia. I was hoping to see if that theory had been discarded but they didn't have time for everything.

    I also thought there was a bit of deliberate editing that heightened the sense of mystery only so he could be the hero who solved it. He made it clear early on that the coastlines in 50,000BCE were 25 miles further out than they are today. But then when he started looking for evidence of the coastal migration from Africa to Australia, he took his sweet time before slapping his forehead and saying, "But of course, dear viewers, I'm forgetting that the evidence would now be under water, 25 miles out to sea!" Cheap shot, dude!

    But what I did not see was any groundbreaking work in linguistics. Cavalli-Sforza's theories are controversial, to put it charitably, and many linguists bluntly say they're outdated. We have to greatly downplay the role of linguistic analysis in the tracing of human relationships because we've had to accept the fact that human migration is not necessarily the primary engine of the spread of language. After all, by using linguistics alone we'd assume that the Bulgars were a Slavic people, the Cherokees are Anglo-Saxon, the French are Italic, the Galician Jews are Germanic, but the Jews of Jesus's time were Aramaeans. Fifty years ago my teachers were already reminding us that language follows the coin, not the flag.

    What I really found weak and more than a bit fanciful were his strong opinions about the origin of language. We linguists would love to prove that language was indeed the technology that allowed humanity to advance to new heights of accomplishment and sophistication, but we don't find the evidence persuasive. As a musician I know that for some of us there are major parts of our life that we think about non-verbally. I don't think that wood carvers form their thoughts in sentences when they're deciding how to turn a lovely vein of woodgrain into a focal point of a statue, and I don't think that people who are designing bows and arrows necessarily have to form words in order to have sophisticated ideas about shapes and materials and vectors. After all, cats can solve equations in three-dimensional kinematics and I'm positive they do it without words.

    I didn't see any evidence that humans could recognize footprints as evidence of the proximity of prey animals only after they developed language. I didn't see any evidence that the click language had to be the first one and all other languages lost the clicks. As I noted before, it's just as plausible that the hunters discovered that a communication code based on clicks could be used without alerting the prey to their presence, and they either built a language around them or worked them into an existing language, and no other people happened to stumble onto that device.

    I got the impression that he thinks language sprang up rather quickly. Considering how slowly languages evolve once they're established, it seems implausible that an entire language could be created from scratch in just a few generations. Considering that language by definition is made up of sounds, it's impossible that the neighboring tribes would not be curious about all the weird noises and borrow the idea once they caught on. I do not believe that one tribe could develop language and suddenly out-compete everyone else, any more than they were able to do that with other paradigm-shifting technologies like farming, animal husbandry or ironworking. Humans are fast learners and it's hard to keep a good idea secret from your neighbors.

    I definitely find you folks' ideas about three ancestral languages more than a little fanciful.

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    Wells's earnest arguments notwithstanding, we really do not have convincing evidence that the technology of language was invented more than about 15,000 years ago. We really do not have convincing evidence of the Nostratus Superfamily hypothesis that all non-African languages are descended from a common ancestor. What we have is a couple of dozen language families (and my count may be off) that we cannot say for certain are related at all. Chinese, Arabic and Tamil, for example, are so different in every way that it's difficult to even find a place to start looking for relationships.

    Supercomputers have found a core set of about fifty words--good solid words like body parts, numbers and pronouns that are usually stable--that appear to be shared by all major languages... IF you accept the phonetic shift paradigms that make them line up. The problem with this is that with only fifty words it could still easily be one enormous coincidence and the paradigm was the creation of a really smart computer, not a real phenomenon.

    And nobody is even talking about where the other African languages came from or how old they are!
  8. zarlok Banned Banned

    The problem with this is that with only fifty words it could still easily be one enormous coincidence and the paradigm was the creation of a really smart computer, not a real phenomenon.

    Should be a simple probability calculation to discount such a scenario.
  9. kmguru Staff Member

    As long as the theory of human migration is not contested to a large degree, those hypothesis on languages can be made that match the migration paths. Spencer is not a linguist...but I would take the DNA test as more likely than any guess work from linguists.
  10. tresbien Banned Banned

    According to linguists all the languages are the same.It is unfair to say that English is better than Arabic or french is inferior than arabic.The evidence comes the fact that all languages share the same function of communication.
    In english , french spanish u will find phonology sound morphology words and also u can find borrowing that is sugar is borrowed from arabic and so on .There is also syntax grammar andsemantic meaning.
    Although i am Arab , i believe in the equality of all languages.but arabic is the language of Quran and paradise.In quran u will find the reasons behind that.
    Those who can read Arabic can appreciate the excellence of the literature structure of the Quran. Those who do not, can appreciate the excellence of the message by reading the Quran in any language.
    God says
    If we made it a non-Arabic Quran they would have said, "Why did it
    come down in that language?" Whether it is Arabic or non-Arabic,
    say, "For those who believe, it is a guide and healing. As for
    those who disbelieve, they will be deaf and blind to it, as if
    they are being addressed from faraway."
    Arabic was the most advanced and comprehensive language at the time when Qur'an was being revealed and it still is the most comprehensive. The terms, concepts and themes would be best clarified and explained in Arabic language and last but not the least, it was the language of the people where it was revealed.

    Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Not so simple. Some hypothesized phonetic shifts are based on the dynamics of phonetic shifts that are known to have occurred. But others are postulated upon what we know about the human speech apparatus and what we can theorize about the effects of environment on phonetics. Cold climates encourage fewer vowels, which let precious warm breath out into the atmosphere, so Germanic and Slavic languages have tongue-twisting consonant clusters. The frequent long sea voyages of the Hawaiians simplified their consonant paradigm so the words could be understood when shouted over the waves: Tahiti, tabu, salofa became Kahiki, kapu, aloha. There's a lot of speculation involved here so it's impossible to calculate probability confidently. Even if we could, what then, if we decide that the Nostratus Superfamily hypothesis has a 75% chance of being true?
    Not exactly. All languages evolve to serve the purposes of their speakers. They are put under stress by migration, conquest, technological advances, etc., and then a language that is in fact suddenly a bit "inferior" for the purposes of its people changes. The evolution of Ango-Saxon into Middle English after the Norman Invasion made qualitative changes to the lives of its speakers is a perfect example, as is the smoother evolution of Modern English from the flowery tongue of Shakespeare and Jefferson into the pithier speech of engineers and political scientists.
    Some of us dispute that. Personally I find Chinese to be a better vehicle for the analysis and exchange of ideas than English for a variety of objective reasons. The almost complete loss of noise words like articles and conjunctions allows it to be spoken more slowly and facilitate understanding, especially by people from different regions. The loss of inflections for tense, number, person, case, etc. allow a sentence to focus on what is important in context rather than filling in irrelevant details out of grammatical necessity. The simplification into only two parts of speech, nouns and verbs, makes it more flexible in expressing new types of relationships and other concepts than a language constrained by prepositions, adverbs, pronouns and subordinating conjunctions. My observation that the Chinese have an easier time adapting to the rapid changes in today's world--particularly with the handicap of their repressive political system--than even us Americans supports my thesis.
    This is a place of science and you're going to have to provide extraordinary substantiation for that extraordinary hypothesis, considering that Latin and Greek were still in use and Chinese had already been a great language for at least two thousand years.

    As for modern languages, the only language that vies with Chinese for being "comprehensive" is English. The former accomplishes this through its streamlined syntax, the latter by its shameless adoption of foreign words. Arabic is not noted for either of these traits.
    It's generally acknowledged that our thoughts are shaped by the vocabulary and structure of our language. The Koran was invented by Arabic-speaking people so of course it would have been full of ideas that took advantage of the peculiarities of the Arabic language. The mythologies of other peoples such as the American Indians, the Africans and the Australians are full of ideas that seem "most fully developed" in their languages.
  12. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    And really this is the whole point. But, I suppose sitting so deeply inside the bubble of a language makes it almost impossible to see - hence this golden nugget from a linguist.

    I'm at 1100 Chinese characters. But I only know the English meaning, although for some I know the Japanese pronunciation. Of course, for now, I am sitting pretty far inside the English bubble.
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    What a thoroughly bizarre way to study either Japanese or Chinese! You are doing the most difficult part of the work, yet you have so little to show for it! I spent a year studying Chinese in a community college--not a difficult regimen--and a couple more years exhorting my Chinese girlfriend to speak it with me at home whenever possible. As a result I doubt if I ever knew 300 characters, but I speak it like a three-year-old, I can appreciate the way Chinese people think, and I understand the potential superiority of their culture.

    I don't know how old you are but you may live to see the adoption of a phonetic writing system in China. They all understand that they can't go on this way. The first step was the universalization of Mandarin so they all pronounce the words the same way.
  14. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    Actually, I try to think of it as a hobby

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    If I get a chance to move to China or Japan then I will have some sort of foundation anyway. I can speak Japanese, no Chinese though, but I can say I can not think Japanese. Sometimes some things make a little sense but I know people who moved there and lived in Japan for 10 years and they really know what it is to think Japanese. Actually, one friend of mine ended up leaving. The Japanese culture, according to him, swallowed him up and he was having difficulty thinking outside of Japanese and not "looking" Japanese was making life difficult for him there because he couldn't really completely fit in.

    Anyway, that aside, I'm beginning work on a method of learning the ideographs for people like me, that never went to Uni to study Chinese. I'm not sure if it would work for everyone but maybe for some people. If I can I will make a little website and put it all out there for free. But it'll take some time to get it all ready. That's kind of my side-project

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    My aim is to make it as easy as possible to learn 2000 characters in a little over a year.

    We'll see

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  15. kmguru Staff Member

    Interesting...A friend of mine did the same....he moved to Korea. My exposure to Japan was through business activities. Everyone I met was arrogant and and did not understand why we did not like the way their government (MITI) was controlling our business there. And those visitors did not like the African American employees at all. Someone in Japan told them that AAs are lazy and dumb.
  16. zarlok Banned Banned

    You can"t prove anything with probability, but you can disprove something coming about by pure chance.
  17. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member


    A question to ponder.

    Good evidence exists that pre-humans used fire and tools. The usage evolved together, becoming more refined with time, dating back at least 500,000 years ago [from old campfire charcoal deposits, dated by other than C-14 I believe which only goes back at best about 100,000 years].

    Would not the same likely be true for speech? After all, all humans have the same ability to shape their tongues and vocal cords appropriately for making complex sounds, a physiological capability that would not have existed in pre-humans that did not make complex sounds. Would not that physiological capability have evolved, allowing for ever more complex sound making? Eventually, that would have evolved to fully modern capability at least 120,000 years ago [when mankind, i.e. y-chromosome adam and mitochondrial eve first were born], and then spread across the globe thereafter. Indeed, it might well have been completely evolved long before then. So, that implies that languages of some type must have existed at or before the dawn of mankind. The tribe from which we are all descended would then have likely had the original language that became all languages now spoken, as it changed over time as the tribe split and split again.
  18. kmguru Staff Member

    The half life of C-14 is 5700 years. Good results can be obtained to 32,000 years and it is streching to 60,000 years. After that, it is hard. However Potassium-40 has a half life of 1.3 Billion years. If we found camp fires 500,000 years ago, may be things go way back....Is there a DNA method that can calculate how many generations a person has gone through?
  19. tresbien Banned Banned

    Do u speak Arabic.Have u ever read Quran in Arabic.SO, how come they invent Quran since God challenges human beings or jins to write even a verse as QURAN
  20. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

    The mungo lake fossils in Australia are part and parcel of the out of Africa theory.

    Australian aborigines are in fact indicative of the earliest humans, they arose in africa and spread to australia where they were isolated, while in other parts of the world, including africa, they were outcompeted by other arising strains.
    Something similar happened earlier with marsupials, all original mammals were monotremes and then marsupials, in australia they were isolated and stayed monotremes and marsupials while everywhere else in the world placental mammals outcompeted them.
    Originally all humans were aborigines, the ones that found their way to australia 50 000 years ago stayed aborigines while the others didn't.
    DNA evidence now supports this, but it was always obvious from many different angles anyway. For example the fact aborigines were the only people without bows and arrows, they predate that invention, also all of the oldest artwork in caves ranging from africa to sweden to indonesia are all in the same style still used by aborigines today, but not used by the modern native cultures of these areas.

    The culture of australian aborigines is the oldest human culture, so languages you can find amongst australian tribes are most like the earliest languages, even though they've undoubtedly changed a lot.
    Their religion is also the oldest religion.
    So it seems if any religion has any merit, it's the one where a giant rainbow snake made the rivers and other animals made everything else, often to get revenge on other animals or to teach them a lesson.
    This religion predates any god, so god was probably invented by a wombat to trick people.
    It worked.
  21. marnixR in hibernation - don't disturb Registered Senior Member

    the classic argument that you need to be able to lay an egg in order to appreciate what it tastes like

    look up the word 'non sequitur'
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The difference is that we have very strong archeological evidence for the technology of fire far back in the Paleolithic Era. We have actual campfire sites that have been carbon-dated. The theory that this technology was developed before the diaspora out of Africa becomes very strong with this evidence to support it, and it can therefore be accepted as part of the canon of the science of anthropology.

    We have no such compelling evidence for the origin of language. All of the observations you present are true, but they are not enough to establish your conclusion as more than a hypothesis. We have no way of knowing how long man had the physiological apparatus necessary for language as we know it, before he actually began speaking. We cannot say we KNOW that the linguistic development followed hard on the heels of the biological development.

    We have never so much as conducted the experiment of capturing a large community of newborns, taking them to another planet, raising them in an environment where their elders did not use language and there were no telltales like commercial product labels, and then coming back to earth and watching them on video to see how many generations it took for them to come up with the idea of language on their own.
    I'm pretty sure they have a figure for the average rate of mutations.
    It's remarkably difficult to find confident estimates of the date of invention of the bow and arrow. Several pages of Google hits converge on a date of 15000BCE, and agree that this was one of a great many technologies that was developed independently in more than one place: at least Europe, Africa and the Americas. Like farming, animal husbandry, the city itself, metallurgy and writing, many of our key technologies arose in multiple cultures independently because humans are clever. We must keep these examples in mind when we muse about the origin of language. There is no good reason to DISMISS the hypothesis that it was invented many times and that today's language families really are totally unrelated.
    Huh? Why is it not the culture of the Bushmen, who (as the PBS program we all just finished watching clearly establishes) are the incontrovertible ancestors of the Australians? Furthermore, the program made it clear that this one tribe was the ancestor ONLY of all humans outside of Africa and did not delve at all into the histories of the other African peoples. I've seen no study at all that sorts out the histories and relationships among the cultures of the other African people so I don't know how old they are.
    You're assuming a fact not in evidence: That the technology of language was invented before humans left Africa. We have no persuasive evidence that any language family is more than about 15,000 years old, in Australia, Africa or anywhere else.
    Jung says that gods are inside all of us, that they are archetypal instincts preprogrammed into our synapses by survival conditions and genetic bottlenecks which we'll probably never identify. All cultures in all eras that we've been able to study through archeological evidence of worship objects appear to have the set of god archetypes. (Monotheism is a recent sidetrack that goes against our nature, which may explain the disharmony that accompanies it.) It's very likely that we all share the same instinct for religion and the various flavors are just embellishments that have been added along the way.
  23. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

    Yes all humans out side of africa did descend from one tribe in africa, but that one tribe is no longer as it was 60 000 years ago, the countless african ethnicities have all been mixing up and changing a lot since then. Australian aborigines are the closest thing to "pure" specimens of the original tribe which migrated out of africa, and their culture is the closest. Cave paintings in the kalahari from 60 000 years ago are the exact same distinct style as australian aboriginal cave paintings and not at all like the current artworks of bushmen or any other group in africa today.

    Anyone familiar with both of the groups in question can just see that bushmen culture is less primitive. Aborigines also have thicker skulls, skulls that are in many ways closer to those of homo erectus than those of other homo sapiens,
    indicating they represent a transitional phase between homo erectus and homo sapiens, or in other words are the earliest homo sapiens.

    Fuzzy hair arose in africa after aborigines left and that is why aborigines don't have fuzzy hair and why no one outside of africa has it, barring recent migrations from tribal africans to parts of south east asia which happened in the last 10 000 years.
    Etc etc. Countless cues from aboriginal culture when contrasted with other cultures indicate they have the oldest culture still in existence, and yes even morphological and biological cues correlate with this.

    It is a falsely presumed myth that the first humans were "negroes" just because the first humans came from africa, but they were aborigines, negroes stemmed from aborigines in africa, caucasoids stemmed from aborigines in the middle east and mongoloids stemmed from aborigines in central asia.
    Only the aborigines which found their way to australia managed to stay aborigines, but we are all descended from aborigines which were at one stage the only humans on earth, and quite widespread.

    Who is jung BTW? Aborigines don't have a god, the things they see are responsible for other things they see. Animals and landforms are often attributed with the supernatural powers of "gods" in their mythology, but I'm pretty sure they don't have any gods.

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