The origin of language

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Министерство образования Республики Беларусь Учреждение образования «Гомельский государственный университет им. Ф. Скорины» Филологический факультет Курсовая работа THE ORIGIN OF LANGUAGE Исполнитель: Студентка группы К-52 Лапицкая Т.Е. Гомель 2007 Содержание Introduction Origin of language Conclusion Literature Introduction "Tot fallaciis obrutum, tot hallucinationibus demersum, tot adhuc tenebris circumfusum studium hocce mihi visum est, ut nihil satis tuto in hac materia praestari posse arbitratus sim, nisi nova quadam arte critica praemissa."-SCIPIO MAFFEIUS:

_Cassiod. Complexiones_, p. xxx. The origin of things is, for many reasons, a peculiarly interesting point in their history. Among those who have thought fit to inquire into the prime origin of speech, it has been matter of dispute, whether we ought to consider it a special gift from Heaven, or an acquisition of industry- a natural endowment, or an artificial invention. Nor is any thing that has ever yet been said upon it, sufficient to set the question permanently at rest. That there is in some words, and perhaps in some of every language, a natural connexion between the sounds uttered and the things signified, cannot be denied; yet, on the other hand, there is, in the use of words in general, so much to which nature affords no clew or index, that this whole process of

communicating thought by speech, seems to be artificial. Under an other head, I have already cited from Sanctius some opinions of the ancient grammarians and philosophers on this point. With the reasoning of that zealous instructor, the following sentence from Dr. Blair very obviously accords: "To suppose words invented, or names given to things, in a manner purely arbitrary, without any ground or reason, is to suppose an effect without a cause. There must have always been some motive which led to the assignation of one name rather than an other."-_Rhet._, Lect. vi, p. 55. But, in their endeavours to explain the origin and early progress of language, several learned men, among whom is this celebrated lecturer, have needlessly perplexed both themselves and their readers,

with sundry questions, assumptions, and reasonings, which are manifestly contrary to what has been made known to us on the best of all authority. What signifies it[18] for a man to tell us how nations rude and barbarous invented interjections first,[19] and then nouns, and then verbs,[20] and finally the other parts of speech; when he himself confesses that he does not know whether language "can be considered a human invention at all;" and when he believed, or ought to have believed, that the speech of the first man, though probably augmented by those who afterwards used it, was, essentially, the one language of the earth for more than eighteen centuries? The task of inventing a language de novo, could surely have fallen upon no man but Adam; and he, in the garden of

Paradise, had doubtless some aids and facilities not common to every wild man of the woods. The learned Doctor was equally puzzled to conceive, "either how society could form itself, previously to language, or how words could rise into a language, previously to society formed."-_Blair's Rhet._, Lect. vi, p. 54. This too was but an idle perplexity, though thousands have gravely pored over it since, as a part of the study of rhetoric; for, if neither could be previous to the other, they must have sprung up simultaneously. And it is a sort of slander upon our prime ancestor, to suggest, that, because he was "the first," he must have been "_the rudest_" of his race; and that, "consequently, those first rudiments of speech," which alone the