How language transformed humanity : Mark Pagel


Biologist Mark Pagel shares an intriguing theory about why humans evolved our complex system of language. He suggests that language is a piece of “social technology” that allowed early human tribes to access a powerful new tool: cooperation.
How intriguing, just the opening few lines that suggest we use language to alter someone else’s brain. Great discussion topic.

It is true that we do use cumulative cultural evolution and we can see how things have developed over the years.
‘Social learning is visual theft’ if I watch you I can copy Mark suggests is the way we learnt but 2000 years ago we needed to develop a system of communication to share our ideas and language evolved to solve this crisis.

He says it is social technology for coordinating and striking deals. Language opened up the sphere of co-operation.

Is this how people feel when they move country like a bird without wings? until the language is learnt and they feel whole again and can communicate effectively?

He feels language is the most valuable trade we have for converting new lands and resources. Currently there are 7-8000 languages but the puzzle and irony is that the greatest number of languages is found where people are most tightly packed together. In Papua New Guinea there are 800-1000 distinct different languages and places where you can encounter a new language in under 1 mile. We use language to draw lines around our co-operative groups and to establish identities and to protect our knowledge and skills from eavesdroppers outside. Different languages slow the flow of ideas, technologies and genes. These languages are now a burden in today’s society because they impose a barrier co-operation like in the EU where their translation costs are over 1 billion euros annually on their 23 languages.

Does this mean that languages will eventually die or become extinct, and will it be the survival of the fittest?

If we need to maintain co-operation then maybe our destination is one world, with one language.

What does everyone else think?

K21st - Essential 21st Century Knowledge

Biologist Mark Pagel shares an intriguing theory about why humans evolved our complex system of language. He suggests that language is a piece of “social technology” that allowed early human tribes to access a powerful new tool: cooperation.

View original post

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s