Is Arabic the mother of all languages?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Michael, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    We want to know if Arabic is the root of all spoken languages?

    What evidence is there for or against?

    Thanks,
    Michael
     
  2. K.FLINT Devil's advocate :D Registered Senior Member

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    ;0

    as far as things are known Arabic is far from the root of language. it is far to new to be such. as far as I know the first "spoken" one was spoken with clicks. Then Sanskrit is the root of latin and greek. you would have to look it up but I think there are several braches even befor Sanskrit.
     
  3. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

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    Arabic isn't the first language and not the greatest, but one of the greatest.
     
  4. marnixR in hibernation - don't disturb Registered Senior Member

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    i'm afraid that the root of all languages has been lost in the mists of time
    any modern language is but a latecomer separated by many thousands of years from those roots
     
  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Arabic is one member of the Semitic family of languages, which itself is a branch of the Afro-Asiatic superfamily. The earliest evidence of proto-Arabic or Old North Arabian, the earlier language that was the ancestor of classical Arabic, dates back to around 1000BCE, about the same time as the emergence of Aramaic and Ge-ez which are also Semitic. Other Semitic languages are older, such as Old South Arabian and proto-Canaanite (the ancestor of Hebrew), all of which date to around 2000BCE. Proto-Semitic, the reconstructed ancient language from which all of these are descended, is thought to have become established in Arabia around 4000BCE.

    The Afro-Asiatic superfamily also includes ancient Egyptian and the Berber and Cushitic languages, among many others.

    As for there being a single ancestor for all languages, that is a very controversial topic. We have established a number of language families and superfamilies in addition to Afro-Asiatic. Indo-European includes most of the languages of Europe plus India and Persia. The Mongolic superfamily arguably includes the Finno-Ugric, Ural-Altaic and Turkic families as well as Mongolian, Manchurian, Korean and Japanese. There are three aboriginal language families in the Western Hemisphere corresponding to the three waves of migration from Siberia in 14000BCE, 6000BCE and 4000BCE. There's Malayo-Polynesian, there's Sino-Tibetan, there's a family of languages in Australia and New Guinea, one or two in southeast Asia, and a few isolates that defy categorization like Basque and Georgian.

    But some linguists hypothesize that all languages outside of Africa are indeed related, and tantalizing evidence has been found by massively parallel computers to support this hypothesis. Unfortunately there aren't enough correlations to be certain that we've found fifty cognates in all the non-African language families, or merely fifty coincidences among tens of thousands of words, which does not quite defy the law of averages. Nonetheless if this hypothesis is true it would indicate that the diaspora of Homo sapiens out of Africa in 70,000BCE brought a single language with them, and it has diverged into what we see today. It would also prove that the technology of language itself is at least 70,000 years old and might be the key technology that permitted us to perform the planning and organization necessary to successfully migrate out of Africa.
    To answer your shorter question, there is abundant evidence that Arabic is merely one member of a language family, and in fact a relatively new member. The earliest language related to Arabic that we have hard evidence of is Akkadian, which was spoken in the Babylonian Empire a couple of thousand years before Arabic sprang up.
    Sanskrit is the ancestor of the Indic languages but it is a contemporary of Latin and Greek, not their ancestor. The tribe that lived somewhere around Anatolia or the Caucasus and spoke proto-Indo-European split into an Eastern and Western Branch around 4000BCE.

    The Eastern Branch is the source of the Indo-Iranian languages, the Balto-Slavic languages, and several others such as Armenian. It was once called the Satem branch, named after the Sanskrit word for "hundred," because the K in the Indo-European word kmtom for "hundred" becomes S in all of these languages, such as Russian sto.

    The Western Branch was called the Kentum branch, named after the Latin word (spelled centum but the C was hard) because the hard K was preserved in the ancestral languages of this branch. This naming convention has fallen into disuse because the K has dissipated in the modern descendants of those languages except for Greek hekaton and Gaelic cead. It became H in English hundred, CH in Italian cento, TH in Spanish ciento, S in French cent, etc.

    Latin and Greek are Western Indo-European languages (as are the Celtic and Germanic languages and Albanian). Sanskrit is an Eastern Indo-European language. When early European scholars first discovered documents in Sanskrit they were struck by its similarity to Latin and Greek and realized that there was such a thing as an Indo-European language family. Not knowing the chronology of the documents very well, some of them assumed that Sanskrit was an older language and could be the ancestor of Latin and Greek, but we now know this is not true.
     
  6. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Wow Fraggle thanks for that. Great post.
     
  7. zarlok Banned Banned

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    Afro-asiatic is a fairly poor name. I learned it as nilo-semitic. I wouldn't bother adding this trivial bit if the OP hadn't been asking about arabic since it falls in this family.

    But as an aside, I've also never heard of a "mongolic" family either; it was called "sino".
     
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    They're not the same thing. The Afro-Asiatic language family is what used to be called the Hamito-Semitic family. It encompasses the Berber, Chadic, Egyptian, Semitic, Cushitic and Omotic languages. I hadn't heard the term Nilo-Semitic in a long time but it appears to be a term that has fallen from grace, one that was used for "racial" rather than linguistic classification. The term "Hamitic" has fallen into disuse for similar reasons.
    Again, they're not the same thing. The Sino-Tibetan family includes (obviously) Tibetan and the closely related but mutually unintelligible languages that we Westerners lump together as "Chinese" because they can read each other's writing, in addition to a number of less well-known (to us) languages in the region. The Mongolic family includes the language of the modern Mongolians as well as those established by the far-ranging Mongol conquerors of yore, such as the Finns, Estonians and Saami, the Magyars, and the whole spectrum of Ottomans from the Uighurs and Tatars to the Turks and Azeris. Some linguists suspect that Manchurian, Korean and Japanese are also in that family. But Chinese and Tibetan are definitely not.
     
  9. kmguru Staff Member

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    If you watch the origin of man (Journey of Man - PBS) you could say that the original human language is the clicking language of people in Namibia.
     
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    That's plausible. Regardless of whether the technology of language is 70,000 years old, it clearly predates the Neolithic Revolution, much less civilization. The people who invented language were hunters. So they might very well have devised a sophisticated code out of a set of sounds that were used to imitate the background noises of their hunting range without giving themselves away to their prey.

    Still, every language mutates to the point of unrecognizability in a few thousand years. So to be precise, the language of the modern people of Namibia cannot be the same one their ancestors spoke in the Mesolithic or Paleolithic Era, but rather one that uses the same phonetic system.
     
  11. kmguru Staff Member

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    Then follow the first wave of the human Journey...you will see them settling in India before moving to Australia. Which means the oldest full fledged language would be Tamil. If you follow the waves...it will show the developments in other parts of the world.
     
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Tamil is only three or four thousand years old. It is a member of the large Dravidian language family which includes, for example, Telugu, Kannada, Parji, Kurux and Malayalam. The Dravidian languages are spoken by about 200 million people, but they have not been studied as thoroughly as other language families. The one ancient language that was the ancestor of all the Dravidian languages has not been rigorously reconstructed. It is called proto-Dravidian and may date back to around 4000BCE, which would make it contemporary with proto-Indo-European.

    At any rate, Australia was populated at least 40,000 years ago. This was eons before the emergence of the Dravidian language family. In fact despite a great deal of encouraging evidence, we cannot be positive that the technology of language had even been invented at that time.

    Until massively parallel computing discovers more cognates between language families which thus far have been assumed to be unrelated, the single Nostratus language superfamily linking all the languages outside of Africa with a 70,000-year history remains only an intriguing hypothesis. We have reasonably convincing evidence of language families going back around 16,000 years, such as the Amerind family that covers most of the Western Hemisphere. That is the earliest we can say with some assurance that language existed and we can't prove that the various families such as Dravidian and Australian are even related at all.
     
  13. skaught78 Registered Member

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    What makes you think that a language as new as arabic would be the mother of all languages??? Humans have been on the earth for about 60,000 years or so, and came out of Africa. Arabic is probably somewhere around a few thousand years old. It arose out of Sumerian which is what the ancient Mesopotamians spoke. Sumerian is also more than likely the language the spawned most modern western tongues, like Latin, which in turn influenced almost all the the European languages. I've not studied much of the easter (Asian) languages, so I cant help to much with that. But to answer your question, no, Arabic is not the root of all spoken languages.
     
  14. kmguru Staff Member

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    Are you basing your deductions on "Journey of Man" and the DNA follow ups? If you buy that theory (which has not been contested to date) then, only three places the language need to be looked at - Namibia, South India and Australia - during that 40,000 years span. Find a living language, there it would be....the mother of all languages...still living...
     
  15. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    the question came up in another post.

    I read that the clicking sounds may even predate vocal cords! When all we could do was basically click. But who knows. As for AU I think people are leaning more towards boats from Africa were pushed to Australia when caught in a storm. Apparently it still happens once in a great while and so it surely happened many many times given thousands of years.

    Also, there were two waves of people,
    one up through Egypt (during a brief period weather chnage when the desert was able to be travereed) these people moved on northward and
    a second group of people moved across through Arabia (when there was a land bridge with Africa) and these people traveled along the coast over to India.

    Or so I had read.

    click click CliK llick KliK :)
     
  16. kmguru Staff Member

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    I suggest you guys view the "Journey of Man" in You Tube or download to watch it...then a lot of ideas would connect properly....
     
  17. zarlok Banned Banned

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    The out of africa theory is closer to hoax than theory. I'd laugh at your claim of it not being contested when, in fact, it is disproven by the preponderence of evidence, but then I realized you actually watch the garbage re-educational channel PBS. Too much work: I'm not in the business of singing pigs. But I'll leave some torches to lead you out of the cave of ignorance, and they just happen to lead you to Mungo lake, Australia.
     
  18. kmguru Staff Member

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    It was a National Geographic documentary from an Oxford Research Fellow. I bet you do not know how to Google the title let alone understand the contents. Then again, not everyone gets out of their cozy box.....
     
  19. zarlok Banned Banned

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    I don't care who did it. Garbage in, garbage out.
     
  20. kmguru Staff Member

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    I understand. I have a pretty good idea as to your qualifications. Thank you.
     

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