Today, if you get a message in your mobile texted ‘Grr’, you know the emotion expressed from the other side is anger. When your friend writes ‘Mh..Mh’, it’s conveyed that he/she is sad. Likewise, at some remote period of the earth’s history progenitors of man used certain sounds as symbols for emotions. The cries of joy or pain were expressed using definite tones. These early people communicated by body language and grunts and moans and all sounds which were a sort of language. It is just like how we understand is happy and is sad.
Language, as content of communication was developed earlier in the timeline of human evolution than when compared to speech. Early ancestors did not have a larynx well developed enough to articulate words. It is not possible to say when was man developed with such a larynx and started to use words for communication. It is just like asking when your moustache grew.
The first human languages were click languages. This is the earliest known language spoken by humans around ten thousand years before, where people made various clicking sounds with their mouth. Clicks are articulated by stopping the air in different ways like closing the mouth forward and backward. An interesting fact is that almost 30 languages in the southern Africa still use click consonants to communicate.
This is a clip from a documentary done by PBS and the National Geographic about an ancient African tribe called the San- Bushmen, who still uses click language for communication. Click language, One of the oldest languages. It can be seen in the video that he is trying to learn how numbers are said in the click language.
Courtesy: PBS, National Geographic.
It is really a strange language, but it is believed that our ancestors spoke like that.
Origin of language, according to myths.
According to Indian mythology, lord Shiva is the third god of the Hindu triumvirate (trimurthi). Shiva’s role is to destroy the world at the end of each age. He performs his roared cosmic dance, known as the thandava, at the end of every age to do the same. At the end of the dance, the whole world would be destroyed. Once just before the end he stroked his damaruka( the two sided drum) fourteen times producing fourteen different sounds. It is believed that Sanskrit, the most refined language in the world was evolved from these fourteen sounds produced, known as the Maheshwara sutras. This depicts that, the origin of language is also evolved from sound.
Language as a mode of expression or communication is made with the change in pitch in the voice. Groans are always deep and screams are always high in pitch. Even laughter has pitch variations. An adult male laughter has more of A and O vowels, whereas females or children laugh more with E or I vowels. Try laugh and find it yourself.
Image Courtesy: PBS and National Geographic