Monday, 16 September 2013

among your earthiest words angels stray

I'm going to elaborate on my theory of the origins of speech and music.  If you drew The Development of Language it would look like a tree.  The main trunk would be solid, with roots going deep down into the earth.  Branches would be going off in all directions, some of them dying off but others with new shoots and buds.  There would be some spectacular fruit and blossom (Shakespeare and Dylan would be fine names for types of apple).  Some boughs would be as big and strong as trunks themselves, while some branches would never be more than shadowy whips.  But that is the tree once language has started to develop.
Where does it start.  What did the seed look like?  What did the seed sound like? 
The earliest speech will have been very simple.  The first word would not have been "orchestral" or "mellifluous".  It may have been the equivalent of "run" or "hide".  It may have described something useful like a sack or spear. (In Cregeen's Dictionary of the Manks Language (1836) the lexicographer states that the word SACK is the same in all languages and suggests that it is antediluvian, that is, from before the flood).  
The first word would have been a grunt.  An exhalation.  But you need one grunt for run amd a different grunt for hide.  And another for sack and spear.  And then perhaps another for where the heck did I leave my spear? It's over there by the sack.  (Here we go now) and rather than different "words", different modulations, a little rise here, a low grunt there, a whispered gnnnrg or a short sharp shriek.  Which leads to a tune, a rhythm, a song.  The seed was a song.
In the beginning was the word and it was sung.
pirate day Hastings 2013

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