IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS THE WORD:
Babyish: The Mother Tongue
I've often wondered at the sameness among widely divergent languages. Even at opposite ends of the world, and thousands of years apart, there were commonalities. The similarity of certain basic words, especially, was intriguing. Maatrih, Maatah, Maatur, Maatrikah, Meter, Me, Me-dre, Mater, Matka, Moder, Mutter, Muti, Mum, Mom, Mommy, Mami, Ma, Maman, Mama, Maama, Amma, Ana, Nana... It's like a chant, in baby-talk. These are our first words, from the tongues of our mothers. Given that we all are born with roughly the same instrument of speech, it should give rise to no surprise that we all begin to speak with the same sounds.
Tootle a horn inexpertly anywhere in the world, and you'll get the same basic noise. Put a lactating breast by a baby's mouth, and the automatic, instinctive motions of the lips preparatory to sucking, combined with a little air passed through the little larynx, will give you your very first word. Perhaps the Ur-Word. From there, of course, we begin to diverge, linguistically and otherwise. Our languages are shaped by our slightly differing biologies, our widely-differing environments, and all those cultural factors that brought down the Tower of Babel. But once, we all spoke the same lingo: Babytalk. And still do.
I've often thought of language as the software of thought. Without language, is real thought even possible? Can animals truly be said to think? How? Do sheep dream of androids? Are there other kinds of software than speech? Did Einstein really think in purely mathematical terms? Well, that's Einstein for you. Anyone else? How about musicians? Surely they are capable of thinking in pure sound. And artists, in pure colours, shapes, textures. Are artists and scientists the next step in evolution? Or merely the pathfinders, for the rest of us?
I've heard it said that the ancient Greeks were unable to distinguish between the colours blue and green. They did not have the blue receptor in their eyes, whatever that is. Or maybe it was the green. Homer speaks of the wine-dark sea. Is it possible that wine and sea-water were the same colour, to the Greeks? (That might explain retsina.) Could we have evolved so quickly? Was it artists who showed the way, in that Golden Age?
Great artists change our way of seeing things: Not all at once: Most people still can't abide Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko. But even the aesthetically blind don't seem to mind a bit of Van Gogh or Gaugain above their couches. The same sort of people would have torn those artists' work right off their own walls, not so long ago.
Great musicians are often considered unlistenable by many in their own times: Even as contemporary composers have difficulty finding an audience to sit through their explorations of the future of music and the human ear. Creators of our own safe old easy-listening standards like Beethoven and Brahms were just too raucous and radical for many yutzes a century or two ago. We seem to have evolved, in our ears, or in our brains. Some of us...
Playwrights and poets of the Twentieth Century had audiences walk out on them, even riot in rebellion against new words, and ways of saying them. James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence were banned by the unenlightenable as "obscene." Yet, less than a century later, it is a mark of subnormalcy, or mental illness to take that position.
Even the Word itself, and our capacity to understand it, continues to evolve before our eyes and ears. But those backsliding revanchist running-dog babies still stubbornly say "Mama." Maybe we haven't evolved physically, nearly as much as we have intellectually. Some of us. Well, we've all got to start somewhere. Right, Mom? Expedite evolution: Teach your children well.
"Baby talk key to evolution"
Send comments to cosanostradamus AT excite DOT com.
- ratboy's anvil
- By Beauty Damned
- The Dirty Ashtray
- Swerve Left
- Mirthful Ones
- The World According to Rob DAMMIT!!
- Shining Light In Dark Corners
- The American Street
- daily kos
The Progressive Blog Alliance
TO POST A COMMENT: CLICK ON "COMMENTS," "Post a Comment" or "# of COMMENTS" just below the SOCIAL BOOKMARKING LINKS (Digg, Delicious, etc), about three inches down from here. Please do comment. Thank you.
IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM YOUR BLOGGERS:
Suggestion Box & Tip Jar We would like to make over this blog to make it easier to access, to read and to comment on. We would also like to serve our readers better by providing more of what you need and want to see. All serious suggestions will be considered. We hope to move to our own domain in the near future, and we would like to ask for your financial assistance in doing that, and in upgrading our hardware & software. Small one-time donations and larger long-term subscriptions are welcome. Exclusive advertising is also available. If you think we are wasting our time in doing all this, please let us know. If you wish to help us, now is the time. As always, negative bullsh*t from right-wing trolls will be sh*tcanned. Thank you to everyone else. Please send feedback & PayPal contributions to cosanostradamusATexciteDOTcom. Thanks.
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS: BRING THEM ALL HOME ALIVE, NOW!