ANTH 1150 Lecture Notes - Nostratic Languages, Proto-Language
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Study Questions for ‘Let There be Words’
1. What are some of the physical changes that had to take place before human beings
could develop speech?
The position of the voice box lowered, which makes it easier for humans to make more
sounds. They have an increase in brain size, lung size, and the shape and form of their
tongue and lips.
2. What do a human infant and a chimpanzee have in common in terms of
physiological features related to language?
Infant’s voice boxes are in the same positions as chimpanzees, and it drops after around
one year. Infant’s also begin to walk around this age.
3. There were three distinct movements of early man out of North Eastern Africa.
Why is it assumed that language was invented before modern humans moved out
to Eurasia (the great leap forward)?
1.6 million years ago, , 50,000 years ago.
4. What is the difference between the concept of the origin of human language and
the origin of all languages that are on earth today?
There were two time periods of lingual development, one millions of years ago, and one
50,000 years ago when the last movement from Africa occurred.
5. What are some of the less sophisticated theories of language origin?
Bo wow theory- mimicking sounds from nature, Yo he hoe theory – natural occurring
grunts, ding dong theory -
6. What kind of evidence exists for the belief that all humans originated from a small
population in East Africa of about 2,000-3,000 individuals?
7. Why would it be assumed that the oldest languages in the world were the ‘click’
languages of Southern Africa?
•Humans arose from Africa, and they may assume that language may be as well.
•The click sound was the easiest sound to make.
8. Why is it so hard to reconstruct a proto-language for all existing languages?
Because language changes so frequently, it is impossible to trace language back that far.
9. What is Nostratic?
Is the proto language, in theory of a Danish linguist, there is said to be a dictionary, but
it was never translated to English.