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Which of these hypothesis are more credible to you?Take a look at this video where you can learn more about the origins of language:

  • Yule, G. (2006). The Study of Language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • TEDx Talks. (2018, August 14). The Origins and evolution of language. Youtube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=nd5cklw6d6Q
  • Jackendoff, R. (2002). Universal Grammar. Oxford Academic. academic.oup.com/book/32834/chapter-abstract/275269828?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Professor and linguist Noam Chumsky, proposed that we gained the ability to produce several languages due to universal grammar. He points out that we have the same innate rules wired in our brains, following a similar idea of the Innateness theory, however, there can be some skepticism since not all languages have the same grammar rules or principles.

What other theories can we consider?

The Social Interaction Source

The Natural Sound Source

The Divine Source

For centuries, knowing how humans started communicating through language has always been an enigma. However, we can take a look at different points of view and data through six different theories that will help us understand this matter in a better way.


the origins of




The Physical Adaptation Source

The Tool Making Source

The Generic Source

  • If you think about it, there are animals that can also hum and grunt but they have not excelled the ability of conveying words or speech in general.

Since living in groups has always been beneficial for humans for help and protection, it is believed that doing cooperative tasks made people express their ideas using hums whenever they worked together as a team when lifting objects or hunting an animal for food.In order to keep these groups together, it was important for communication to always be performed, this is the only way how they could be organized.

Humans are social creatures

  • Some people believe that these scenarios are not accurate since we cannot name abstract things because these words are no associated with sounds.

This hypothesis considers that humans learned to create words by copying or emulating the sounds they could hear around them.He (Jespersen) explained based on the "Bow-Wow" and the "Pooh-Pooh" theories that we were able to start forming words by the sounds humans could hear in their surroundings or by trying to describe actions (like onomatopoeia) but also due to sounds we produce naturally in emotional scenarios related to happiness, sadness or even pain (ouch!, ay!, etc).

The Jespersen's Theories

Are you good at replicating sounds?

  • Pharaoh Psamtik tried with newborn babies just sorrounded by goats. He thought they had said a word in an ancient language (Phrygian) but most likely they were just imitating the goats sounds.

This theory implies, religiously speaking, that a superior being, a god or divinity, gave us language, to all humankind. One of the most common stories we know related to this is the Tower of Babel incident. The bible says that people started to build a tower with its top in the heavens, but as described in Genesis 11:6-9, Jehovah decided to "confuse their language" in order for them not to understand each other. It suggests that we had a common language, from where the rest of languages originated. Some experiments we can mention are:

Did someone provided language as a gift?

  • To create a tool we need at least two objects, in language it is similar, we need to be able combine one word with another one to generate or create a complex message, we don't know of another creature capable of this.

This approach considers that manual work and creation of tools are the reason of how language originated. We know our brain has two hemispheres in which certain activites and signals come from either of the two, however, with experiments made, researchers found out that either thinking and performing an action with our hands, our brain uses the same blood flow and connections which might have caused for us to start creating words

Are tools associated with language?

  • Teeth even in height and small in size
  • Our lips have more muscle, helping them being more flexible
  • Tongue is shoter and with muscles too.
  • L-shape vocal tract

This posture focuses on how our body is built, that is the one that makes us capable of using language. The way how we walk changes completely the whole picture of how we produce sounds. It allows us to have a perfectly designed vocal tract with a pharynx that resonates sounds with better quality. It is interesting since our pattern and flow of waking is not synched with our breathing causing for us to exhale 90% of the time when speaking, allowing us to articulate words.Other important physical features are:

How unique is it?

A body capable of producing language

  • It is interesting to point out that even people that do not develop speech since they are born like deaf children, they still communicate through sign language, making language innate in humans.

This theory considers that just humankind is capable of using language due to a certain genetic material that allows us to excel this function, we call it the innateness hypothesis .It states that there have been changes or mutations to our genes due to our way of eating, foods with a high number of calories causing for our blood flow to improve our brain features, making it bigger and more complex than it was.Biological factors are the ones that play the role of being the responsibles for our language ability, in particular the gene FOXP2, considered to be the protagonist of our capacity for language

An inherent factor