Saturday, September 19, 2020

How did language start (a Creationist criticism of Evolutionist Answer)

How Did Language Start? - Part 1
27.VII.2020 | Simon Roper

You know what.

A scenario has to make not just evolutionary sense in its procedure, but also linguistic sense in its product.

Basic facts of linguistics :

A) human language has double articulation:

  • messages are articulated in often more than one meaningful sound
  • meaningful sounds are articulated in nearly always more than one meaningless sounds.

We can say "road" and "rise" and "rice" because R as such doesn't mean anything.

B) Human language has infinite recursivity "this is the cat that chased the mouse that ate the cheese that Tom had"

C) Human language can refer to non-presents and distinguish between them:
  • I'm not talking to you (negation)
  • You are there (other place)
  • I was somewhere else ten years ago (other place again, but also other time, past)
  • I will not be here when I am dead / will have died (other time, future)
  • If I were in the same room as you, we would be talking in each other's mouths (conditional).

D) Human language has true notionality. Green monkeys can distinguish between three types of danger, requiring three responses, but outside danger they are not talking of prey birds, snakes or tigers.

2:55 Full range of sounds and full range of cognitive abilities are very different.

If Neanderthals had troubles with open vowels, a Neanderthal population's language would be lacking open vowels.

This has no bearing whatsoever on them lacking the cognitive abilities to have a language, it would have been a physical handicap (I suspect my lack of front upper teeth may make my N's sound like L's, but I am not a population : if so, a population where all lacked upper front teeth would adapt to the physical limitation).

4:50 c. Homo heidelbergensis "earlier".

Not based on same kind of dating.

Heidelbergians are never carbon dated, so far, meaning their dates are Ka-Ar [K-Ar, my bad] dates, which I take implies the Flood, when lots of volcanos went off and lots of the lava was quickly cooled leading to Ar getting trapped, so all Ar is not from Ka.

However, Antecessor is morphologically similar to Heidelbergians, and genetically similar to Denisovans. I take it Denisova man = Heidelberg man = Antecessor. All Ka-Ar dates from Flood year (2957 BC) and the Denisovan carbon dates at 40 000 BP, I'd take to be typically just pre-Flood, with an original carbon 14 content so low it gave 35 000 instant years.

8:55 Note that translations from chimp tend to be imperatives:

  • "Groom me"
  • "Let's play"
  • "I submit" (could equally well be translated "dominate me").

They certainly can express social procedure, but that's about it.

Simon Roper
That's a fantastic point - I translated the gestures as grammatical sentences, but all of that grammatical information is not encoded in the gestures.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@Simon Roper I will be looking for your next video on the topic, have you dealt with the point in it?

11:18 Pavlov did not condition dogs to associate a bell with the concept of food, he made them associate it with "come and eat, there is food here".

The problem with a scenario in which /fu:d/ is associated with the concept of "food" is double, starting from an animal communications point:

  • how do you get from "come and eat, there is food here" to the abstract concept of "food"?
  • how do you get from a unitary signal, gestural or vocal, for "come and eat, there is food here" to a signal composed by /f/ /u:/ /d/ in that order and without interruption, so /fu:d/ rather than /fufufu/ in typical monkey or /fu:d/ rather than /fu:ld/ with a very different meaning?

How did Language Start? - Part 2: Primate Communication
28.VIII.2020 | Simon Roper

7:54 "sign language for baby has died"

From what kind of experience would the chimps be aware of the meaning?

I bet the chimps sensed she was sad (sth animals clearly can do, like dogs go up and lick face of a sad master or mistress).

It certainly proves empathy, but not understanding of what had happened.

8:43 Very good point in text, going ahead a bit from your speaking, if there ever were anything like half evolved humans, which as a Creationists I obviously do not think, this certainly means they were a viable species in their own right.

Now, what problem does this pose for "language evolution"?

How exactly would one, inherently capable of learning a language with double articulation (messages articulated into words, words into speech sounds), but starting from parents that had a language of a chimp or gorilla like type, go ahead and change the system of vocal communication?

Chomsky obviously thought human evolution had given us the capacity, but how would the actual language if so develop from there on, when growing up with a very different system of communication? Confer feral children, when back to human society too late, they can't learn human language.

There are only so many months in which a human child may start learning a language - if not exposed to human language after that, he'll never learn.

Zenytram Searom
Like perfect pitch, the ability to learn how to speak coesively sounds (and abstract thinks and facial recognition and empathy... and a lotta shit) is only for pre 2-3yo babies, that is what 2 millions years of evolution could get to us, if we miss this window we are not different than any monkey.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@Zenytram Searom The point I was trying to get through is this:

pre-toddlers might invent language, but adults not having invented it would communicate "no" to them
adults who had not invented language might allow it to themselves to invent it, but would be past the age at which they could invent it

10:24 It does not occur that if the evolutionary pressure occurred, the group would die out rather than develop a larger neo-cortex?

I mean, evolutionary pressure is not creative, it's just culling out non-functioning genes to some extent.


Helena Handkart
Evolutionary pressure creates circumstantial screens through which favourable spontaneous mutations pass & unfavourable ones are excluded.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@Helena Handkart Screens are not creative.

You said favourable ones pass, and unfavourable ones are excluded.

An evolutionary pressure will not create the mutation that boosts the neo-cortex.

Helena Handkart
@Hans-Georg Lundahl if by creative you nean wilful, then no, it does not need to be. mutations occurs spotaneously. Environmental pressures screen the favourable from the less so. Over millenia such pressures often result in similar types of response to similar situations. I understand you wish to believe in a wilful universal arbiter.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@Helena Handkart By creative, I mean producing the result, the option.

Your "understanding" of my "wishes" is imaginary, since in fact I rule out any production of these mutations over history.

I am right now discussing the possibilities as they would normally look from an atheistic point of view, but without the wishful thinking that evolutionary pressure can produce good mutations.

Now, explain how one simple mutation could augment the size of the neo-cortex - and supposing the question is just of size, not of types of brain cell.

For a new cell type, you would need several new genes (like there are ten genes in certain blind fish related to their retina, and mutations in two of them suffices to make them blind). One mutation does not produce several new genes.

Helena Handkart
@Hans-Georg Lundahl by your own definition then, it is creative. By all means keep it up if you must, to convince yourself.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@Helena Handkart No, evolutionary pressure is not in my own definitions producing the options, it is only pushing already existing ones, which need to come into existence by sth else, i e mutations.

The problem is, as already asked: Now, explain how one simple mutation could augment the size of the neo-cortex - and supposing the question is just of size, not of types of brain cell.

Plus of course, between man and chimp, I am far from sure the chimp shares all our types of braincells.

What counts as a simple mutation? A change of "letters" (I think the scientific name is "codons") or a repeated sequence.

Your turn, if you have an argument.

Helena Handkart
@Hans-Georg Lundahl thankyou for defining your definition. That was helpful & interesting. Mutations are generally incremental & cumulative.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@Helena Handkart Oh, are they?

Please do explain what you mean by mutations being "incremental"?

How are mutations "cumulative" other than cumulating copy mistakes and therefore degenerating the general aptitude for survival?

Could this be a piece of, not genetics proper, as studied in labs on individuals compared to their species (like human persons compared to human normality), but of "evolutionary genetics" as comparing different species just presumed to have a common ancestor?


Questions are just a polite way of using an imperative. At some point in prehistory 'Would you like to come back to my cave?' started working better than 'You, come back to my cave.'

Hans-Georg Lundahl
How, if tones and gestures were already available for being polite?

Plus, the question you mentioned is a rephrasing of an imperative, but not all questions are. "What are you eating" is not an order to eat sth. It is also not sth apes ask. Perhaps they do have a gesture for "show me your food" and the ape figured out this is what sign language for "what eat" means ...

Plus, you are presuming prehistory occurred - it is not historically recorded, only reconstructed.

@Hans-Georg Lundahl Tell me what you're eating.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@gib Well, it is obvious that all questions allude to an imperative "tell me" ... but as apes have generally "show" rather than "tell" they are not likely to use it.

THANK YOU for the mention. Very good pronunciation, but in Swedish the g before e, i, y, ä, ö become [j] as well as after l or r at the end of a word, so Swedish is [je:orj], and in German the final g as word final has "Auslautverhärtung", so [ge:ork] (if any open o, that's not on the keyboard).

As to content, I wonder if not the nouns as well are very action related, like, could you teach the ape the difference between "apple" and "pear" when they are eaten the same way? Oranges, bananas and nuts are eaten different ways from apples and from each other. Obviously, there is also the capacity of admitting to sth (like eating an apple).

I'd like to know more about "strings of gestures" - do they connect more like words in a sentence (giving ape one part of the double articulation) or more like sentences added on each other?

Did a comment of mine get caught in the spam filter?

I put it here and can't find it for reproduction on my blog ...

Resuming suppressed comment.

I was thinking of a book I read as a pre-teen, in Austria, it was old (pre-45), evolutionist and racist.

It involved Egyptians being conscious of races (Egyptian, Black, Asiatic, Berber), and Aryans getting beautiful because their aristocrats married beautiful women (as if any aristocrats of any race generally married women they thought ugly) and so it was racist, this is why I think it was pre-45, and its cover showed some age difference from recently published books. The man I read it from also told me he had read it early on.

It also had a theory of how language started. When handling fire, you blow on the fire to get it going. This automatically produces a bilabial φ - which was therefore, on this theory, the first speach sound, since Java Man or Peking Man whoever discovered fire, as well as the first word, meaning : "blow on the fire", "light a fire", "fire", "blow", "breath", "soul", "life".

This was tied in with even then people being able to observe that dead people don't breathe and thus inventing "soul" as the "breath that has gone away from a dead".

Other theorem in the same book is that meaningful vowels were invented to distinguish i: close, here, now, present tense, a: non-close, there, then, future or past, u: far away, yonder, long ago / in a distant future.

The book never went on to explain how this was worked out into meaningful words of many phonemes. This is one of the reasons why, after becoming a Christian at age 9 and initially trying to get it to work together with Evolution which previously I had believed in, I ditched evolution. It could not explain language, as the Bible can - and this is a reason why I am watching this series by Simon Roper.

A French book, which I read in 2005, late in the year, in the South West, more probably Sarlat than Figeac, is a bit surprising.

It said that speech would have begun with Homo erectus and 20 "phonemes" (ten consonant plus vowel, ten vowel plus consonant, overall ten consonants, but consonant to vowel counting as different one from vowel to consonant), and that Homo erectus by these 20 word-sounds expressed different shades of ethics and emotions. Words then started out as composites between these - man in Hebrew being Adam would thus have been a composite of ad-am and same composite is in the place name Aden (ad-an, with m=n).

This I think is very unconvincing too. Why would the same concept necessarily elicit the same ethic or emotional response from everyone? Why would two very different concepts with same emotional load get one shade more or less in these "phonemes" (which by the way do not correspond to what linguists normally call phonemes!), so one had two and one three of them, or one had ad + am/an, one instead ad + el? A little taste of what they are like, I remember "el" (always vocalism "e", the other ones are standardised to "a" but considered to be neutral as to choice of vowel, meaning the use of the term "phoneme" is not quite is idiotic as it seems) means "heaven" or "heavenly" while "ad" + "am" mean "earth" and "harmonious". And how come "one phoneme" standard became replaced by "two / three phoneme standard"?

The book was not racialist, probably a bit masonic or New Age, it ends with a discussion or interview, where the author also argues that main characteristics of human or any animal (at least vertebrate) body is from yeast cells, while eye cells that are photosensitive come from green algae and brain cells from some fungus, like the mushrooms. This is of course a shade better than most explanations why pluricellular beings arose, but not enough to convince me that could have happened either.

For people who don't know the question, Pascal Picq manages to sound more convincing than either of these two by simply avoiding the question of details. See my criticism here: Human Language Revisited · Elves and Adam · Back to Picq · Off the Bat

I have so far not read Jean Aitchison's theory on evolution of language from mating behaviour, I think it was. I admire her book on Language change (with the subtitle "evolution or decay" indicating she doesn't share the idea often found about language change that it "proves evolution", which is good).

The original comment, which was deleted, was written as a PS (to my previous ones) and I think it may be good for Simon Roper to see my criticism as to different ideas on "how" before he goes on to give his own one or ones.

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