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Origin of Modern Human Language, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 329

Essay

The term modern human ‘language’ is used in this question and in the text to refer to human’s ability to communicate using systems of shared symbols. Humans can do this because of certain abilities and complex processes of the brain, such as cross-referencing individual pieces of data pulled from massive amounts of stored information. On the left side of the human brain is a specific area for governing linguistic language abilities. (Park, 2008)  It is known that the ability for language is biological, but the features of language are cultural. This is important when trying to determine when modern human language evolved. Varying types of evidence have been examined to this end. Biological examination focusing on the brain looks at evidence such as asymmetrical left and right sides of the human brain and then attempts to pinpoint when on the human timeline the physical linguistic attributes first appeared. Examining the base of fossil skulls allows scientists to reconstruct the vocal apparatus to examine when the ability for modern human speech first arose. Another type of evidence is cultural and looks at what the lifestyle throughout the timeline would have been like to attempt to determine when the necessity and desire for language was first present. (Park, 2008)

Research comparing the modern human brain to brain models throughout the timeline does not give up much information. The asymmetrical construction seen is present in all of genus Homo, Australopithecus, and in chimpanzees. (Park, 2008) Reconstruction of vocal apparatus is currently more informative, allowing that Homo erectus could have produced vocals with precise sound differentiation. Culturally, Homo erectus made complex tools, manipulated fire, and adapted to changing environment. (Park, 2008) Language would certainly have helped to share necessary information, but there is no way to know for sure it was present.

References

Guisepi, R. (2001). Human Origins: The International History Project . Retrieved October 25, 2012, from International World History Project : http://history-world.org/human_origins.htm

Park, M. (2008). Introducing anthropology: An integrated approach. (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

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