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History of Languages








So many offered languages  
certainly creates a lot of language combinations

History of Languages

Mythological Roots

One of the earliest written accounts of language is in Genesis, dated about one thousand BC, where God asked Adam to name the animals, “each according to their kind”.
There are some interesting mythological explanations for the multitudes of languages existing on the planet, such as the Tower of Babyl in the Bible, where humans developed such a pride they wanted to reach the stars and God himself. Whereupon God said, “[GE 11:6] "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel--because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth."
A Hindu myth tells of how not only differences in language, but also diversity in culture, or customs came into being, by the punishment by Brahma of a proud tree: "There grew in the centre of the earth the wonderful `world tree,' or `knowledge tree.' It was so tall that it reached almost to heaven. It said in its heart, `I shall hold my head in heaven and spread my branches over all the earth, and gather all men together under my shadow, and protect them, and prevent them from separating.' But Brahma, to punish the pride of the tree, cut off its branches and cast them down on the earth, when they sprang up as wata trees, and made differences of belief and speech and customs to prevail on the earth, to disperse men upon its surface."
A Salishan (a tribe in the Americas) myth tells how an argument lead to the divergence of languages. Two people were arguing whether the high-pitched humming noise that accompanies ducks in flight is from air passing through the beak or from the flapping of wings. The argument was not settled by the chief, who then called a council of all the leading people from nearby villages. This council broke down in argument as nobody could agree, and eventually the dispute lead to a split where some people moved far away. Over time they slowly began to speak differently, and eventually other languages were formed.

Formation of Language and Communication

There are several scientific reasons to explain the abundance of languages, such as people’s imitations of animal sounds (Meow Meow), or developing from natural sounds (Ouch Ouch). One interesting theory states that the divergence of languages was motivated by selfish or survival instincts, where one tribe would try to make up some code of communication which would deceive or not be understood by another tribe, so that they could attack them or have some advantage over them.
Generally though, it is believed that languages started forming between 2 million and 40,000 years ago. In our human development, grunts would develop into more complex communication, and Neanderthal man, for example, was able to communicate on some basic level. But around one million years ago in Africa, the FOXP2 gene came into existence and which gave this new humanoid breed greater communication skills and paved the way for more rapid development. It is proven that all humans of today have descended from this African root, where in Africa at one time it was common to find a blond blue eyed Caucasian next to someone darker than night itself, next to a fair skinned half tanned person. But this ability to more elaborately develop communication has given this species of humans an edge over their predecessors, being able to devise and communicate more complex concepts and strategies, to the point that this species overcame all its predecessors, forcing them and Neanderthal man into extinction.
Animals also communicate, but the smartest of which cannot seem to grasp the complex syntax of human grammar. Each language can be considered a living entity and is constantly evolving. The teen goes to highschool and learns the latest lingo to be cool and in, and hence the generation gap is fostered. This latest lingo can vary depending on locality, such that a language can digress geographically, although modern media can cross borders and promote lingo on a global level. But this type of media did not exist before 50 years ago, in which case languages were free to develop and diverge on a local level. Going back further, they could have diverged faster if children did not go to school where they would be taught some nationalised version of their language, instead taught the language of their parents and other locals. And hence we have dialects of the same language. The bible can be considered the media of the past for this purpose, where, for example in Germany, its translation was drawn from local dialects across a large area of German speaking people, hence creating High German, technically a new language and a nationalised version, unifying many areas. The bible, one of the first major publications in many languages, played a similar important role in the development and unification of those languages. In fact, the first major publication ever was the bible. The Arab language draws great influence from the Qur’an, which is said to be so masterfully articulated that it must have been inspired by the divine. Many of the European languages diverged from Latin, and English is a cross-breed of several languages, as explained below. So what may have started as a universal grunt to depict a particular concept would have evolved over time in different ways depending on the creativity of locals and their discovery over time of the different sounds that one can make with their tongue and mouth. Many languages have sounds, and hence letters in their alphabet, which are not present in other languages. Some languages even use expressions and other bodily parts to express oneself. For example, in Norway, a quick inhale is a common acknowledgement.
As humankind evolved, so did its method of communication on regional levels, languages eventually forming into groups and clusters and related to one another (Indo-European family, etc.). Many languages can be traced to the migration of its peoples, like the Hungarian language, which is said to be of Uralic origin.
This has led the development of around 10,000 languages, but in the modern age, with media, the dominance of certain languages, and general education, about one third of these have already died out. Scientists around the world are frantically trying to record and document the remaining, as they reveal important clues to our development and the migration of the human race as a whole. Field researchers have graduated from handwritten notes and wire recordings to laptops, mini-discs, DAT tape and MP3s. "We are sitting between the onset of the digital era and the mass extinction of the world's languages," said Prof Bird. Of the 6,500 presently in existence, another 3,000 could disappear within the next one hundred years if not recorded. Others still expect that 90% of the languages should die by the end of this century. Australia, where Prof. Bird is based, itself has more critically endangered languages than all other countries combined and where there are estimated to be about 80 indigenous Australian languages with only 5 or fewer speakers.
The study of languages first began in India in the 5th century before Christ, on the language of Sanskrit.

Development of an Alphabet – Written Language Later, at about 1000 BC, the empire of the Phoenicians arouse on the Mediterranean, the power base drawn from seafaring trade between many surrounding civilisations. They are said to be descendents of the Canaanites, and their alphabet drawn from an earlier Semitic/Hebrew prototype, which through the Phoenician alphabet eventually evolved into the alphabets of the Greeks (who were so kind as to add vowels and from which all European alphabets are drawn), the middle east, and India. The Cyrillic alphabet, used by the Russians and in some parts of Eastern Europe, was developed by the Bulgarians based on the Greek alphabet. One of the Phoenician's great ports of trade was Byblos, although the city’s name was different before and after. It is allegedly the first city ever built in the world, where writing first began (around 1200 BC), where Papyrus was heavily traded and exported to Greece (Papyrus, the original material to write on, where Bublos is the Greek word for Papyrus), it is the oldest and continually inhabited city in the world (presently named Jbeil, 42 km north of Beruit), and the word Bible is derived from its name.

Development of English into a Global Language

As humans have populated the earth, migrating to its different corners and bringing with it and modifying its native languages, we get to a point where there are no longer open and unexplored pastures to migrate to, and where technology and the organisation of civilisations has developed to such a degree that some languages begin to dominate, through education, media, and other means. Simple Chinese has been devised to make learning easier and unify communication across a larger area, such that this is presently the world's most widely used form of communication as a native language. However, as a secondary and native language, English is the most widely spoken. It is interesting to note that the most English speakers (as a native or second language) are found in India, followed by China, and then by the United States. In fact, there are at least 28 countries in the world where English is considered the official language but which is not the native language of its population (such as India, Pakistan and the Philippines). <> Although modern Standard Chinese and Mandarin has the most native speakers at around 700 million, and Hindi is the second most commonly spoken first language, English has 350 million native speakers but an additional 1.5 billion speak it as a second language.
English has a fairly interesting history, drawing from its Old English roots spoken in West Germany, more specifically Frisia, the language of Dutch Netherlands. This branch has deviated more than any of the other Germanic languages (itself a branch of the Indo-European family), starting when the Old English spoken by the Anglo-Saxons was exported to that little island of Britain by settlers in the 5th century. Meanwhile and later, we have the North Germanic language of the Vikings, who settled mainly in the north and east coast of Britain. These Germanic languages could have been influenced by the local Celtic dialects, where stronger resistance by the Scots in the north has kept that version of English more unique than the rest.
Following that, for the next several centuries English was heavily influenced by the Norman conquests, where Anglo-Norman is very similar to Old French and which led to Middle English (it has been computed than around 40% of the modern English vocabulary is drawn from French). During the 15th century Middle English underwent a “great vowel shift” in London, with the standardisation of print, leading to Early Modern English around the time of Shakespeare.
History of the English language Therefore, by the time English has fully matured before entering the modern age, it has been roughly one third drawn from the German language, one third French, and one third Greek/Latin.
And that is when we enter the age of colonialism. Britain, located on an island and by default a strong naval power, was in a good position. The Dutch were also a traditional naval power, where naval trade often led to economic might. Mainland European countries like France, Germany and Spain traded much with themselves and other mainland countries, but they jumped on the colonial bandwagon too, until the major European countries had colonies in different parts of the world, such as the Americas, Africa and Asia. However, later wars within Europe led to various truces and agreements, such that many of the colonies founded by the mainland European countries were lost to the British. If not traded away as part of some truce, they could have been lost in military campaigns abroad, which these mainland countries could not support or defend, because they had enough concerns back at home.
English therefore spread as a global dominant language first by the colonial expansion of the British, then by the long economic might of the United States. It is the main language of business and trade, has become the official language of many countries, and more recently, its dominance has been further entrenched by the media through movies and music. And even more recently, by the internet, first widely developed in the United States. Technology, both hardware and software, also give English an edge, in that many people are forced to learn its basics to become effective in the work force, which in turn creates incentives by many governments and organisations to promote the teaching of basic English. In Science (although the terminology of science is still mostly drawn from Latin), 95% of articles are written in English, even though half of them are written by non-native speakers. The US presently leads the world in language schools, but prince Charles of England has vowed he will do everything within his royal means to promote the greater spreading of British English in language schools around the world. Unfortunately, he has more than just the abundant US based English schools located around the world to contend with, but also the abundance of private students, where there are simply more US speakers than British and who like to travel around the world, often offering English lessons as a means to prolong their stay in the foreign countries. Furthermore, their pronunciation tends to be more monotone and easier to understand than the jolly, colourful accent of the Brits (whose dialect and pronunciation, even among themselves, can vary markedly). Unlike France’s Academie Francaise, English has no central authority dictating its further development as it infiltrates the world and undergoes change at every regional level. It can be amusing to consider that, although English has been drawn from so many languages, it is now coming back full circle, its exported words imported back into border regions, creating what is referred to as Franglais in the Channel Islands, Frenglish on the border of Quebec, Canada, and Norwenglish. Perhaps we are all heading towards a global mushglish.
And mushglish is what leading linguists consider it: a poor choice as a global and dominant language due to the inconsistency of its pronunciation and its less than perfect grammar structure.
Since it has established its global dominance, it has also undergone change to make it easier to learn by foreign speakers. For example, there is Seaspeak (a lot of words of which, by the way, are drawn from Dutch, since they are historically a seafaring nation and have therefore thought up much of these words), and Airspeak and Policespeak, so that ships and planes don’t crash into once another, or to help capture international criminals. Then we have Special English, limited to 1,500 words (from its originally robust 500,000) and used by Voice of America. And lastly we have Basic English, used by aircraft manufacturers, international businesses and basic English schools when writing their manuals, this language first devised by Charles Kay Ogden, who said that, “If it takes 7 years to learn English, and seven months to learn Esperanto, it will take 7 weeks to learn Basic English.”

Newly Created and Modern Languages and Versions And lately we have some languages which were created and not evolved. Created for the purpose of fabricating a universal and easy to learn language to facilitate communication between people on a global level. One such language is Esperanto, and another is Interlingua, the vocabulary of this latter drawn from many languages, making it easier to learn by much of the world’s population. And finally, we can even add to this programming languages, scientific languages created to accomplish various functions on the computer.

A contemporary example of language creation is Sango, which has evolved from a simple pidgin spoken by traders along the River Ubangi into a complex language spoken by five million people in the Central African Republic in little over a century.
King James V of Scotland – kids speaking Hebrew


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