Monday, January 14, 2013

Baby-Talk or Evidence for Linguistic Monogenesis?

The New Beginning quotes Anthony Esolenin his "Word of the Day: Dad" as saying that "the word does come from baby-talk, as does Mama" — P over F or D. Dr. Esolen continues:
    These words seem to be universal in human language. That’s not because they all spring from one identical ancient word. It’s rather that it is natural for babies to make certain sounds as they learn to speak. The easiest of all is the m, made by putting the lips together, like a baby at the breast, and exercising the vocal cords. That’s a sound that all languages seem to have, even Hawaiian, with its paucity of consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w). If we keep our lips there but block the air passage, suddenly letting go, we make a p sound, or a b if we use the vocal cords. Also easy for the baby to sound is d: da-da-da-da.
"Pater or papa (or something with a b, like ba ba in Cantonese or Mandarin) rather than fater (vater) or 'dad' ('de' in Cantonese)." It's something like that in everything language I've ever studied, appa in Korean for example. I am not convinced, however, that this phenomenon is "not because they all spring from one identical ancient word." They just might have, if one accepts the claims of Linguistic Monogenesis, that there was a Proto-Human language, called Proto-Sapiens by some.

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Blogger laBiscuitnapper said...

It's pretty much the same for West African languages ('baba' in Yoruba, 'baba'/'uba' in Hausa). Except for Igbo (typical, really) who say 'nna'. This makes me curious as to how anomalous that is and how it appeared.

January 19, 2013 at 8:01 AM  

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