I was going through my collection of idea starters and saw quite a number on the subject of language. I haven’t covered this topic at all except for last week’s mention of the ancient Chinese writing on the Olmec figures from Mexico, so we’ll see how much I can cover today!
This article on “Primitive Languages” from Answers in Genesis is a fun read. I’ve spent time in Germany trying to learn their language and I can say AiG is quite right about how complicated any foreign language is. What is so simple that a 4-year-old native speaker can express with great flair is extraordinarily difficult for someone trying to learn as an adult!
The gap between the “simplest” human language and the most complex animal communication is immense and impossible to cross even though many scientists have been trying. Although Evolutionists have to assume that there was some kind of simple ProtoLanguage for the first homo-sapiens to speak before they developed into fully functioning Humans, there is no evidence for anything like this.
Because they must have some story to explain things, you can find a number of hypotheses about how we developed speech. But there actually are some real blocks to keep any animal that wanted to from copying us. Wikipedia talks about this and says, “Paradoxically, it is precisely primates’ resistance to deception that blocks the evolution of their signalling systems along language-like lines. Language is ruled out because the best way to guard against being deceived is to ignore all signals except those that are instantly verifiable. Words automatically fail this test.” This means that monkeys and apes are going to treat any word that doesn’t match what’s going on as a lie and ignore it!
I wanted to find out what secular linguists (language scholars) say about the age of the world’s languages. I was pleasantly surprised by their accurate claims. It is difficult to tell how long people have been speaking a particular language unless you have writing of some kind. So, of course, the first people to wise up, settle down and keep written documents were far away from eastern Turkey/Armenia where the Ark landed, NOT!
Egyptian is no surprise to us, since we all study that culture first in Ancient History. Sumerian is the other equally ancient written language. So where was Sumer? In the area of Babylon and Ur!
The only difference between the linguists’ claims and what the Bible shows us is about 1,000 years off the timeline (Wikipedia is closer) and without a supposed 100,000 year period of slow Evolutionary advance before the sudden flower of Human speech.
So, what about Language families. Turns out there are 9 main divisions of language with some more that won’t fit neatly into their groupings. The most famous and longest studied is the Indo-European group, probably because most of the linguists speak one of these languages! I really this map showing how these languages spread out.
Pre-Columbian distribution of Na-Dene languages in North America
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to find a similar map for the other language groups. Here’s an interesting article I ran into on Dictionary.com that talks about how two languages on different continents are close enough to be considered relatives. There’s a language called Ket is Siberia who’s only similar languages are spoken in North America. This tells us that the Siberian group either came from or sent some people on to America (which do you think is more likely?).We aren’t told how many languages God split the people of Babel into, but we do know that languages keep splitting and changing all the time now. Odds are, some of the words we use every day will be bad words when you’re a grandparent. And some words that no decent person would say now will be harmless then. Not to mention all the brand new words we will need for things that haven’t been invented yet!
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: Genesis 11:6-8a
For more about Human Language check out this post from Father Stephen Rational Sheep and the Word of God