Thursday, February 21, 2013

On the Origins of Language -- An Update On My Theory

In my dissertation, I theorize that we can find the components of language by looking at ape behaviors. Further, I argue that language is rooted in song. While I did argue that language emerged out of a division of song into music and language, which, as it turns out, is probably technically wrong. I was nevertheless on the right track.

Language is likely a combination of music/song and communicative sounds/gestures. Thus, I was right that language is related to ape mating songs (as we see in gibbons) and that it's not unconnnected to ape communication. My mixing and matching and divisions, though, were somewhat off. Better than being completely wrong in my language theory, though!


Michael R. Brown said...

I think you're on to something. I suspect we both are somewhat on Nietzsche's pattern, in the sense that we're seeing an initial primal unity - as he did with the music-drama - which then got fragmented. This is integrative work, because today we tend to treat all these functions as dissociated. My own casual theory has been that music is a language equal to and systemtically somewhat independent of verbal-conceptual language. Further back, it seems likely rooted in primate gestures and all. I'm with the idea that our internal emotional life is actually ~introjected~ primate gestures!

Troy Camplin said...

Indeed, Nietzsche is never far from my thinking.

Music does in fact have a grammatical structure not dissilmilar to language. This is what led me to my general theory (developed at great length in my dissertation, found here on this blog) of language development.

My initial thesis -- which this new work does not disprove -- is that grammatical structure is fundamentally narrative, and that narrative structure develops in any animal capable of action and choice. The lion must engage in grammatically structured actions to successfully bring down an antelope.