What was the first language, and what was it like?
Does it still exist? And out of all the languages on earth today, which one is the oldest?
These are tricky questions, and linguists have tricky answers. Linguist Daniel Midgley goes back to basics on this episode of Talk the Talk.
Listen to this episode
Promo with Jane Hebiton
What Part of “No, Totally” Don’t You Understand?
No, Yes, Definitely: On The Rise Of ‘No, Totally’ As Linguistic Quirk
How to Say ‘Yes’ (by Not Saying ‘Yes’)
People in Northern Sweden have the world’s weirdest way of saying ‘yes’
Russian-language version of Apple personal assistant Siri gives ‘homophobic’ responses to questions about gay people
“In Soviet Russia Siri questions you”
Until yesterday, Russian Siri was giving out homophobic replies
Apple fixes ‘homophobic’ Russian Siri: ‘This emotion should be considered negative’
Russia’s Apple monument dismantled after Tim Cook comes out as gay
Barbara Klein Moss: The Search For The First Language
A good rundown of ideas about early language
Another one: The first chapter of God’s Sacred Tongue: Hebrew and the American Imagination by Shalom L. Goldman
There was some idle talk about making Hebrew the official language of the USA.
The Ten Lost Tribes
Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, borrowed the Hebrew origin story for his work of fiction, The Book of Mormon.
Smith also speculated that the Ten Lost Tribes lived at the North Pole. In a kind of hollow.
This ties right into the ‘Hollow Earth’ theory that was also going around at the time. Smith picked up on a lot of stuff that was going around.
RationalWiki: Sanskrit is not the first language
Nutty stuff from The Vedic Foundation: Sanskrit was the first language, and it’s never changed. Warning: crackpottery.
MIT Press Release: The rapid rise of human language
The paper: The precedence of syntax in the rapid emergence of human language in evolution as defined by the integration hypothesis
New paper suggests speech developed in a now-familiar form
Early humans did not mumble and grunt: Language ‘developed rapidly’
The authors think it all comes down to Merge.
We Got Merge: Noam Chomsky on the Cognitive Function that Made Language Evolve
Linguist List, Ask a Linguist: What’s the oldest language?
Percy Sledge: Soul singer’s link to cricket’s sledging
World Wide Words: Sledging
Find the tracks we play on the RTRFM webpage for this episode.