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Spoken or written, is eloquence (hell, communication per se) mere Darwinian "selection" of the variations of the grunt?
My next three posts will concern linguistics.
Part the first (1).
THERE CAN BE NO PERIODIC TABLE
OF THE PHONEMES OR PHONETICS
Introduction to the Introduction
Hopefully, all the depth and complexity that follows this introduction will be not only informative, but beyond even interesting, fascinating. An ironic obverse of the ubiquity (hell, overload!) of language surrounding and involving us is our general state of oblivion regarding this miracle of our human beings. For unlike the many facets and fields of our essence that we studied in school or have presented to us in the “edutainment” media (such as Discovery Channel), the actual substance of language is either so esoteric as to elude recognition, or so intricate that recognition eludes exposition to, or understanding by, those not availed of advanced degrees (and probably only those from advanced institutions). And for something so, what can we call it, vernacular?, who the hell considers substance? “Substance” refers to subject matter, to content or significance or some such literary merit when we consider language. Not “existential circuitry”. Not matter-state subtending the manifestation, the sonic-alization, the cipher-ization, of concept-communication -- The word per se.
So we speak and listen and write and read with increasing derivation (cognitive-context such as information) and proliferation (from private conversations about the daily worldwide and space-beyond news . . . .to world-wide postings of our most personal contemplations and goings-on). And even if we come to sense the “mechanistics” of our linguistics in ways analogous to our basic understanding of circulation, digestion, respiration, reproduction, immune system, even genetics, it seems to me we would still be in a state of profound oblivion regarding language.
The manifestation of language per se is self-evident, self-sufficient. Languages, dialects, accents, jargons, etc. etc. They are and there’s no question about it that they are.
The origin (s?) and developmental diversity and/or dissemination and drift of sonic excrescences can be studied and established “comparatively” to some extent. Yet here, theory and conjecture may be the ground rules of conclusion such that the “science of linguistic origination” is oxymoronic relative to science wherein proven origins, causalities, from substrate-system-dynamics and such yield actual, demonstrable proofs.
A Linguistic origins (proto-words) may derive from “physiological” sounds such as muscularly-induced sonic excrescences (grunts, exhalations, etc.). Some linguistic theory holds that all language is based thereon, thence evolved. Well, we can’t deny “ugh” and “ow” and “oomph” and the bathroom-related terms like “tinkle” and “fart” which involve onomatopoeia (as well as, here, onomatopoopa) of bodily-function fixates and references. This category seems insignificant, though, proportionate to the vast expanse of words and their sonic compositions.
B The sound of the word mimicing the sound of its referent (onomatopoeia) may account for some language and its inceptive dynamics. That specific vocalizations of “mimicry” came to synthesize into “terms” status seems obvious. “Boom, growl, thud, crash, dingdong, blast, scream, bubble, burble, clap, murmur”, and so many more words sound like what they refer to. But here again, the matter of onomatopoeia seems minor. Language is far beyond sonic replications and then repetitions thereof.
C Throughout evolution, animal sounds such as calls of warning, or recognition, territorial assertions, status states, and even moods-of-a-moment were proto-linguistic. They conveyed and/or interchanged information. Man’s sounds transcended the situationality of animal communications. Man codified declarations and abstracted such into the “mention of” as the program of his consciousness (sound and/or symbol) and thus the “interchange of” even totally apart in time and circumstance from the situational stimuli to which animals’ sounds “speak”. Man’s sounds as language went beyond animals’ as signals!
Yes, the mind of man preponderantly deals with detail-of-reality data. Things, places, persons, dynamics, so far in scope beyond sound frequencies of domain derivations and prosodies . . . .or the “mind-mouth mirroring” of auditory input known as mimicry. Yes, we may hoot and howl and shout “vestigially” of our animal ancestors (listen to sports-spectators). And, obversely, certain critters make sounds linguistically, a couple (parrots and ravens – one of the latter was even taught by a biologist to say “never more”) even speak words, revealing fractional requisite neurology even in species distant from homo sapiens. But the sonic replication (sounding a word) does not involve the cipher-representation of awareness conveyed by the word, “encoded” by it, as with man.
For example, though some dogs can almost “linguistically” emanate sounds, and even cats can produce sonics such that one must assume that something of at least emotional “data” is being attempted, only man’s sonic configurations (actual words) amount to and represent an actual existential analogue (the representation in cipher or sound) of existence.
In the language of man, the word (sound and/or cipher) is an “analog” of its existential referent. Given advanced knowledge and including taxonomy and jargon, that scope of reference is the expanse of the universe and of time. Such is the scope language “printing-out” that potentially universal scope of the mind of man.
Now though the above (A, B, and C) are valid and undeniable substrates and foundations of language, they represent a level equivalent to the molecules, ores, and ingots from which a symphony orchestra is created. The significance of language is a synergy of facets transcending componentiality, really exclusive of the formulative levels and particularities in that human language involves what’s so far beyond.
Other academic pursuits trace languages from locational origins through phonetic drifts and interfaces of people and places. Yet the “thematic developments and interchangings” and the other “orchestrations” of cipher-sonics from man to man, tribe to tribe, nation to nation, region . . . .continent . . . realm . . hemisphere . . . analyses of the “composition” of man’s synchrony orchestration (mind/matter-scope fusion via language) don’t explain or explore the creation thereof. The genius. The . . .sacrament (?) of being “one with the universe” through . . . .the . . WORD . . . . .
For with man, his vocalizations, his realm of words, entails the analogue specification (reference of the word) of the very realm of existence. Yes, the universal scope of dimension, vector, and temporality (as I said just above too).
The electro-chemical mechanics (neurodynamics) of language are a realm of research as revealed in my “Yer Born” section B, the Pribram article. A vast field of linguistics-neurology exists for the reader seeking further enlightenment spanning from the hierarchical erudite-excess down to the comprehensibility of National Geographic or Smithsonian (and other layman-mags) complete with excellent diagrams and illustrations. But the mystery, the marvel, the miracle of language remains unsolved for sure, even unexamined for the most part, by either echelon of erudition.
The significance, the actual role of language in human existence may require a tripart examination (or you can derive or contrive more categorical fractionations and complexifications to fill your moments of spare time should you so desire.)
A) Looking at basic human dynamics, language can appear to be a mere secondary or somewhat insignificant variation, except wherein the variance per se (different sonics of different languages spoken) functions as an “enemy” or “alien” signal to the basal levels of another, thus establishing an adversary reciprocity unto interaction of violence. Language differentials, in this sense, are somewhat analogous to patterning or plumage, color and characteristic, uniform, insignia, etc. Despite highly developed language systems, all essentially based on the same span and structure and conceptual categorizations of existence (“reality”), individuals, peoples, races, nations, so far almost hemispheres fight battles with and within each other unto genocides. The “communion of minds” that should exist regardless of nuanced squiggles of sound or cipher is, so tragically, still, overwhelmed and undermined by the lower levels of human dynamics and interrelationships and differential recognitions, antagonisms, slaughter-prompts (as in my Life Sucks section).
B) Obversely, through language comes the fusion of minds and of the mind with existence itself through mentality, -- knowledge. Community, culture, heritage, discovery, enlightenment, progression, civilization, identification with even the universal scope of existence. Yes, beyond each other as parts of the-whole-inclusive-of-each-other, we become existence via the information which language encodes into that mentality of man via his own synthesis of “term” for observation, or from his learning the semi-infinity of the sonics (terms and their referent-concepts/objects ) synthesized by others through the ages.
C) The marvel, the mystery, the miracle of language is in its revelation of man’s mind (at least the potential) as a cosmic dimension in a life form. “Quantum Leap” of dynamics and systematologies doesn’t convey the vast, stupendous existential scope revealed of the (ascending?) state of man by his words, his language . . .leading him to the state of being “in the image of” the universal. (I touched on this in Part I A, of Note to a Newborn).
There is no evolution of, no phylogenetic precedent for this perspective/dimension of the language of man. This sonic and ciphered analogue of existence is an ultimate punctuation of prior equilibria of evolution, a colossal, spontaneous creation ( . . “in the blink of an eye since chimpanzee . . .”) without precedent or parallel or preparatory existential states or dynamics.
Yes, creatures make sounds. Sounds convey emotion expressed and also interchanged, “communicated”. Animal sounds also relate information regarding external substantives such as predators, directions, objects. But these referents are within the context of the animals (or animals’) social or survival dynamics. Only in man is the sound synthesized to designate the total spectrum of existence from the sub-substantive (not just sub-atomic) unto the cosmological, from the genetic to the socio-dynamics, from the supposed universal origin to the projected demise.
So how do I coalesce all this contemplation? How, what, do we conclude? Indagations, analyses, EEGs, comparative analyses, statistics, and all won’t help us at this point. Not even all put together. The whole of language is so much more than the sum, even than the sequential factorization, of its parts.
I conclude thus:
Language is an Orthogenetic phenomenon. Not a variant, (random or not), “selected” sequentiation. Orthogenetic is “linear”, even suggesting “predetermined”. Language was a potential from the beginning, yet apart therefrom in that its development, though latent, has only come about in man, and so suddenly in man, with no gradient of development in prior times of speciations. Suddenly, the potential, the latent, from meta-origin of life . . suddenly kinetic!! Actualized!! Suddenly, like phenomenological metamorphosis, comes the word as the analogue of the universe. The codex of the cosmic.
There may be no reason, no cause, no purpose. There may just be this culmination/completion of the pre-ordained/potential as evidenced by our human life-forms sonically (or cipherically) uttering (or configuring), either way representing/replicating existence by means of . . . . .the word.!!
From the Bible . . .words that always intrigued me . . that they derive from an unfathomable wisdom and even soul-sentience awareness predating by far and transcending association and attribution of significance to merely a man (no matter that he was named Jesus).
“In pricipio erat verbum In the begging there was the word
Et verbum erat apud Deum. And the word was with God*
Et verbum erat Deum” And the word was God
And with man, the word was made flesh!!
*God”, the universal set of existence, actual and potential, substantive and systematological