Language is something so incredibly natural to us that often times we forget to ask how it started. I mean, it wasn’t as if humans always had language, at least not according to scientists. And like our closest relatives, chimpanzees or bonobos, we were once speechless; subject to grunts and heavy vocal tones.
While it may seem strange, since we use verbal languages every day, we haven’t completely negated heavy tones, nor have we gotten rid of grunts. Clearly we still work mostly with our bodies, using speech as just a small portion of our communicative tools as compared to tone or body language, yet speech has become part of our lives, as if it had always been there, like body language or tone.
So, what does this mean for us humans? Why are we subjected to forgetting to ask the question how we came to be? Why are we almost unnerved to explain why we speak or how our languages came to be?
Like anything in regards to evolution, language came into its own because of necessity. It grew out of our need to communicate with others more efficiently. Sure, we could always get exactly what we wanted, more or less, but it wasn’t until the introduction of words and speech that we began to be able to express our desires and how we felt.
There are certain emotions that do this sort of thing; portray how we feel to others. One would be crying. Sadness, portrayed through tears and crying, is a physical response that provided a warning to others in a tribe or pack that some sort of danger may be afoot. When speech was limited or non-communicable, tears were one of the most effective ways to save the group.
This same holds true with laughing. Joy and laughter were means to gain empathy. You laugh at a joke because you understand it, you can create an empathetic pathway to other individuals to show positive feelings where words were unable to portray the same thing.
Yet curiously, neither tears nor laughter have disappeared with the appearance of words. Why is that? Is it to say that, like words, tears and laughter are just another extension of our social need; that it was nearly imperative to keep all three? Or maybe it solely had to do with danger and empathy, that words never had a chance to inflict harm on these attributes. Maybe there just hasn’t been enough time for further evolution, and eventually there will be no more tears or laughter because words will appropriately express how we think and feel.
Well that’s a cheerful thought, isn’t it?
In reality, though, most of us can say that words are never enough; that body language, laughter, and tears go much deeper than words ever could. While words are a wonderful evolution of thought, they will never express every part of our fears and desires because those very fears and desires obstruct the words.
In the following blog posts, I will cover these topics and delve deeper into what speech, laughter and tears really have to offer. Make sure to keep an eye out!