In the last few months I have been near our first grand-child. She is beginning to make sounds: all sorts of sounds. She will look at me, make a sound as though she is replying to all of the strange and grandfather like sounds that I make toward her. Maybe, she is just saying, “Papa, don’t be so silly!” One day, though, she will reply and I will understand her.
That brings me to ask: What is the origin of language?
Years ago an Egyptian king by the name of Psammethichus (Psamtik) wanted to know the origin of language. He took two human infants and isolated them until they spoke. The first word they spoke was bekos , the word for bread in Phrygian, a language dead for thousands of years. The king concluded that must Phrygian must be man’s natural language.
Since the time of Psammethichus, others have conducted experiments desiring to discover the origin of language. Their conclusions ranged from Hebrew, to Swedish, to Danish, to French, to German.
What is the origin of language? In essence, the origin of language comes from being with other people and first listening to them speak. In Mark 7:31-37, Jesus provided a model for the origin of language. In essence, Jesus first enabled the man to hear, then to speak. Listening, a way to learn, is prior to speaking in the natural sequence of communication.
As seen, this notion of language being learned has not always been held. Many people have searched for man’s natural language, but the origin of language is in first listening. Language like culture is not biologically inherited; it is learned. The simple implication is that we need to listen both linguistically and culturally before we speak when entering a culture other than our own.