origins of language: ding-dong and other theories

Theorizing the origins of language has been a popular endeavor.  The different theories of origins were given pet names: the ding-dong theory focused on origins of language based on what things sounded like, pooh-pooh theory focused on spontaneous interjectional sounds, and the bow-wow theory focused on imitation.  These theoretical categories were originally discussed by Max Müller, see his (free Google ebook) 1861 Lectures on the Science of Language.

And a few related links:


Written by teppo

June 6, 2012 at 10:52 pm

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  1. All of the above. Evolutionary linguistics has no commanding paradigm. Rather, it is “the blind men and the elephant.” Clearly, each of these perceives a set of data that it seeks to explain. Those offered paradigms fail to explain enough other facts that none can command the field. Ding-dong and bow-wow are both onomotopoeia. Freud suggested from his studies of dreams that we think (and therefore speak) in opposites: hyper-hypo; super-supra; sup-sub; cellar-celestial. In Hungarian fekete (black) and feher (white) with k-h shift.

    From that, we differentiate shades of meaning. In Indo-European, BL denotes (or connotes) a swelling: bell, blue, ball, blade…

    As humanoids could make more sounds and remember them, they did. Considering what crows can do, it is not so peculiar as to be a problem.

    The only problem is awarding First Place to the most popular professors, since their theories seem equivalently incomplete… (snake, wall, rope, sword, tree)


    Michael Marotta

    June 7, 2012 at 2:50 am

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