as a Descriptory System
languages originated from pictograms which described each object uniquely.
Syllabaries recognized common phonetic elements of different words. Only one
alphabet was developed – in Semitic languages.
of alphabet is a formidable scientific task. Primitive people of the second
millennium BCE were extremely unlikely to recognize the need of reducing the
syllabary rather than extending it, as did the Sumerians. So huge reduction of
writing language occurred never again in history. Significant reduction of
language inventories was never a conscious concern before the computer input
required it for Simplified Chinese.
sign languages benefit from all the linguistic research available. They are
intended for people with disabilities, and have to be simplified. Yet, signs
generally mean words, not individual sounds or even syllables. The development
of alphabet is not self-evident.
errors in writing (pick – peek) show that mind operates with composite sounds
of speech, not with letter sounds. Syllable is one sound. To recognize it as
composite, and distill the basic sounds – especially vowels – from it, is
not a task for primitive Egyptian farmers.
and pitch variation make distilling of letters from syllables all but impossible:
LXX, admittedly late evidence, shows that Hebrew consonants were pronounced
differently in different phonetic environments. Allophony exists even in the
simplest CvCvCv words because consonantal sounds influence each other.
evolution from pictogram do syllabary to alphabet may be traced in the Egyptian
language, written Hebrew sprung as alphabetical language without evolutionary
development from syllabary. Lacking the burden of noun-oriented pictograms,
Hebrew developed as verb-oriented language.
words are strictly built on root cells which, in turn, form from individual
consonants. Hebrew originated as alphabetic language, not evolved from syllabary.
uniquely reserves a single meaning for each sign. Cuneiform, Egyptian and
Chinese hieroglyphs, and words of modern languages all have multiple meanings.
Disambiguation of signs is artificial; evolution of language only adds more
meanings, thus appeared homonyms and begedkefet pairs in Hebrew.
also broke away from the Egyptian morphologically by introducing simple and
functional CvCv and CvCvCv patterns. While few other languages insist on open
syllables, they do not usually limit the words’ length. Formalizing words’
structure and limiting their length are major inventions, not evolutionary
syllables are perfectly suited for people with poor language skills. Syllables
may be pronounced in staccato, and consonants are forcefully plosive.
as any descriptory systems, must describe the objects and their relations. In
doing that, the languages arrive between the hammer of sufficiency and the anvil
of excessiveness. Languages must have enough means to convey almost everything
with little ambiguity. To achieve this, the first languages, as other primitive
descriptory systems, are supra-sufficient. The ancients, unable to contemplate
general laws of nature, saw a unique deity behind every event. Advanced
descriptory system of monotheism reduced all the forces to one God. Several laws
of celestial mechanics replaced numerous observational patterns. Good
descriptory systems reduce the patterns to basic laws.
languages are greatly excessive. Many words written in English or Russian can be
read even with several letters omitted or written incorrectly: tgether, togezer,
togetha, tgthr are easily recognizable. Not so for Hebrew or
seemingly any West Semitic language.
consonant in Hebrew words is excessive. Already (late) biblical Hebrew writing
system is insufficient: it contains many homonyms, sometimes contextually
indistinguishable. Hypothetical pre-biblical Hebrew lacked the semantically
related homonyms, and originally had only one sense for each word thus was
sufficient as a descriptory system.
systems cannot plausibly appear naturally, but are the revolutionary products of
intellect. Euclid based his non-excessive system of geometry on previous
research, but consciously formulated it. Evolutionary development can refine
systems, but their formalization is necessarily centralized, a product of a
single person or a group of scholars. No scientific theory ever was arrived at
evolutionary, but always invented by particular scholars.
theory of proto-languages assumes that, for example, a tribe speaking
proto-Indo-European populated most Europe and much of India. That is certainly
impossible: millennia BCE, no nation could be that large. Population was
dispersed, sparse, and lived in isolated enclaves. No way they could have a
common language. If one tribe moved over vast territories in a migration of
unimaginable and technically nearly impossible magnitude, the tribe’s passing
influence would not compel the locals to change their language. The tribe, on
the contrary, would assimilate many local linguistic influences, so that the
proto-Indo-European in India would be completely different from the PIE in
obvious sense behind the Nostratic hypothesis shows that very distant
proto-languages are related. Are we to assume that one tribe moved from
sub-Saharan Africa to Europe to Urals to America, and preserved its vocabulary
over such time and distance?
the Nostratic hypothesis were to some extent true, then the Nostratic spoken in
dispersed communities would quickly break into very different dialects, and not
offer the uniformity observed in the IE.
only plausible way to account for vocabulary similarities among languages with
different grammars and writing systems is to assume momentous instead of
migratory influence. The language of migrants, slowly moving through
unimaginably vast spaces, would change. The language of civilizers, visiting
distant places, would not change.
Tower of Babel account relates exactly that story: a civilization sufficiently
advanced to reach the sky, suffered cataclysmic destruction. Its people left the
place and went to distant communities. Whether or not the mention of them
reaching the sky alludes to air transportation, they traveled fast. They settled
in other communities, and created different languages based on their own. Many
tribes were taught the IE simultaneously, and dialects appeared instantly.