Could it be that humans are already leaning towards a common language? Excerpt:
Humans across the globe may be actually speaking the same language after scientists found that the sounds used to make the words of common objects and ideas are strikingly similar.
The discovery challenges the fundamental principles of linguistics, which state that languages grow up independently of each other, with no intrinsic meaning in the noises which form words.
But research which looked into several thousand languages showed that for basic concepts, such as body parts, family relationships or aspects of the natural world, there are common sounds – as if concepts that are important to the human experience somehow trigger universal verbalisations.
“These sound symbolic patterns show up again and again across the world, independent of the geographical dispersal of humans and independent of language lineage,” said Dr Morten Christiansen, professor of psychology and director of Cornell’s Cognitive Neuroscience Lab in the US where the study was carried out.
“There does seem to be something about the human condition that leads to these patterns. We don’t know what it is, but we know it’s there.”
Here’s something the authors of this piece don’t mention; humanity is already coming closer to speaking a universal, global language. It’s called English.
English has been the language of aviation for decades. It’s the language of business, and by and large the language of the internet. English is already a lingua franca for much of the globe.
But that’s not the point of the article. The point is this:
Dr Lynne Cahill, a lecturer in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Sussex said it was possible that some words were similar across languages because they are the first noises children make. So the ‘ma, ma, ma’ and ‘da, da, da’ sounds made be babies became mama and daddy.
But she said it was too early to say there was a universal root for other words.
“You could argue that the words chosen here are very old and therefore most likely to have a common ancestor language in the past, from which they all derived,” she said.
It’s true enough that infants all over tend to produce the same first sounds – our one year-old granddaughter’s favorite phoneme a few weeks back was “gwee,” for reasons we have been unable to ascertain. If the neotonous development of language has any parallel to our development of language as a species, it’s possible that this is the link to all human speech; personally, I think it’s more likely that all languages at some point diverged from an original, common language. 120,000 years ago there were only as many members of Homo sapiens as there are orangutans today; it’s highly probably they spoke one language.
It’s interesting to think that we may be headed back to that monolingual piece of the past.