searching for the origins of (proto)language: tracing the origins of the lexicon
Svetlana T.davidova
November 2022
 

Resent interest in understanding the evolution of language has delivered remarkable debt and detail of knowledge , empirical and theoretical. Significant advances are made in understanding the processes by which modern language has evolved from earlier and simpler communication systems, i.e protolanguage, or pre-language, defined by the predominant use of content words in their bare forms and labeled as grammarless. That said, very little is known of the evolution from the communicative grunts of primates to the the first lexicon as a prerequisite for lexical protolanguage. It is fair to say that this period of the evolution of language has attracted much less interest, given the lack of factual support which in the past has driven scholars to resort to conjectures and speculations as a substitute. The goal of the present article is to minimize this gap by making the best use of known findings and offering alternative analyses of these. Consistent with the windows approach in evolutionary linguistics the article argues that knowledge of the past, lost forever, can be inferred from the present.In addition, traces from the remote past can be found in phenomena observable today, from which valuable insights into language origins and the nature of the first linguistic signs are extrapolated. The article identifies the formation of the lexical word as a turning point , marking the beginning of language. Modern technology , e.g. AI involving artificial agents can be of help by imitating as close as possible the communicative interactions which lead to the beginning of language. The origin of language is here understood in terms of an invention accomplished with pre-existing bio-cognitive properties without a language faculty. And although bits and pieces of available knowledge considered individually have limited contributions to the issue at hand, taken collectively they add clarity in the search for language origins, reaffirming the advantages of multidisciplinary cooperation of theoretical paradigms and methodology
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Reference: lingbuzz/006965
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keywords: language origins, protolanguage, self-organization, signs, iconicity, language faculty, semasiographic systems, semantics
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