Paper type: Essay Pages: 3 (538 words)
The evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel states, in his speech, that language is the most powerful, risky and revolutionary characteristic of the human being ever evolved. The purpose of the speaker is to inform about the great and potent features of this trait. Pagel explains to us that when we talk, we are able to transfer thoughts in someone else’s mind and vice-versa using such a form of telemetry. In other words this process is similar to what happens between TV remote control and television.
According to this biologist language is one of the most subversive means that we can use to express ourselves. One very representative example is the censorship and the awareness that we have to pay attention to when we say or write anything. Going on, Mr Pagel poses two important questions: he asks the reason why language evolves itself, and why it evolved in our species and not in others. The answer is that only human beings have a special feature named “social learning”, which lets us improve ourselves by watching and copying the actions that someone else did.
Such a revolutionary characteristic could also prevent us from making the same mistakes and allows us to do the same action better than before. So we make progresses, whereas the smarter animals remain doing some activities over and over again, without big advancements. As a result of the social learning or, as anthropologists call it, cumulative cultural adaptation we can make stuff, and all the things that surround us are consequences of this process. Now we are moving towards a critical point, which is: “Why do we have language? ”.
First, Mr. Pagel states that social learning is visual theft. We can learn stealing ideas and benefit from the best qualities of someone else, without working on something or persevering on it. Secondly he reveals us that when human beings discovered this aspect of social learning (thousands of years ago) arose a dilemma: “How can we preserve our best ideas and avoid that others steal them? ”. Our ancestors could have behaved in the following ways: concentrating themselves in small groups so as to bequeath the acquired information to offspring.
But the result would have been isolation and a slight improvement. Or they could have created a system of communication to start cooperating with one another and share everything useful. Obviously they had chosen the second option and in this way language was born. So the solution to the previous dilemma is communication. Then Mr. Pagel points out how peculiar the fact is that we have 8000 different languages spoken on Earth. More surprising is that the greatest density is located in the smallest areas such as islands.
This is related to the tendency of people to isolate in small groups in order to protect identities and cultures. On the other side nowadays we communicate a lot more than in the past. But our modern world founded on connectivity and cooperation is limited by the variety of languages. This raises the question: “is it possible in our globalized and standardized world to have all these different languages? ”. Mr. Pagel has no answer but it seems inevitable that our destiny might be a one language world.
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How Language Transformed Humanity. (2016, Dec 06). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/how-language-transformed-humanity-essay