What is language
The term language has been defined differently by different people. Let us look at some of these definition to understand what language is :
Language is that system by which sounds and meaning are related – Fromkin and Rodman, 1974 has defined language in their term.
Language is the most advanced and flexible means that is available to human beings for the communication of meaning – This Definition has been defined by Brown 1984
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.
How and Why Did Language Originate?
No one knows exactly how language originated. and because of this, there is no dearth of opinion about the origins of human speech. Let us briefly understand 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. According to 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 alphabetical symbols or ideographs used in writing are often associated with divine images.
The Natural Sound Source Theory – Another view of the origin of human speech is based on the concept of natural sounds. The theory suggests that first words were imitations of the natural sounds which early men and women heard around them. The fact that all languages have some words which seem to echo naturally occurring sounds could have led to this theory. cuckoo, bang, buzz, hiss, bow-bow, etc. are some examples from English. In fact, this type of view has been called the bow-bow theory of language origin.
The Pooh-Pooh Theory – In 1871, 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.
The Ding-Dong Theory – Muller, a contemporary of Darwin, proposed the ding-dong theory of the origin of 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 a 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. For example, the sight of a snake rang a bell and the primitive human instinctively said “snake”.
As is clear from the above discussion, it is a big puzzle as to how language began but, why language began seems to be rather clear. Language must have evolved because humans needed it for the following purposes –
To give factual information and to convey commands. This is also called information talking.
To convey emotions and feelings.
To maintain social contact on a friendly level. This is also called phatic communication or language of social chitchat or small talk.
For aesthetic reasons like poetry.
To relieve nervous tension.