Re: How old is language?

Dick Fischer (
Mon, 02 Aug 1999 23:39:10 -0400

Glenn Morton wrote:

>I don't really understand what you are being contrary about. So what if
>the Japanese islands were settled recently. It doesn't mean that language
>hasn't been around longer ago than 10,000 years. And from the other side,
>your assumptions are wrong. The Japanese people and language are most
>closely related to the Koreans or Siberian Tungus, not the Chinese.

As I remember the Japanese colonized Korea. Phenotypically the Japanese
and Chinese people are obviously close, and probably shared common ancestry
only a few thousand years before a few bold venturers set out to sea and
Japan was settled. Yet the languages are totally unique. Certainly there is
no more than 20,000 or 30,000 years since the two cultures were united, but
we find no similarities in linguistic style, grammar or syntax. I would
that they didn't speak any useful language capable of expressing thoughts or
ideas before they separated.

>Here are some word comparisons in which the Japanese word is clearly
>similar to that of other languages showing that it is NOT unrelated:

Yes, and there are French words in the Vietnamese language too. You
can't overlook the effect conquering armies have on indigenous populations.
Do Brazilians not speak Portuguese?

>The word for finger/digit/hand is commonly the sound of tik or a slight
>permutation of it throughout the world's language families. In English the
>word digit comes from the tik root.


>There is a word for water, aqua, in which the aq- sound commonly is
>involved. Japanese also has this sound involved for a word for water. Here
>is the word comparison:


I wouldn't be surprised if there are certain words for basic objects that do
extend into antiquity - maybe even when man came out of Africa 100,000 years
ago - water, sun, moon, rock, finger, hand, spear, etc. And these basic words
may very well have endured in widely separated cultures. That wouldn't
me at all if it were true. But to call a few verbal names for basic
everyday objects
or parts of the anatomy "language" is a reach in my opinion.

But do I think that a Homo erectus or Australopithecine could have said,
"My punishment
is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from
the face of
the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and
a vagabond
in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me
shall slay me"?


Dick Fischer - The Origins Solution -
"The answer we should have known about 150 years ago."