General Question

Eggie's avatar

What was the first language on Earth?

Asked by Eggie (5148 points ) 1 month ago

Was it English?

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33 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

No, we’ll never know what it was. The first written language that we know of was probably Sumerian

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would imagine there was no “language” per se. Just a lot of guttural sounds that slowly became refined.

dina_didi's avatar

Body language. English is a language based on Latin so it could not be the first.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No, it was not English! Language developed out of Africa, along with humans, long before there was European population or anything else.

zenvelo's avatar

English is not based on Latin, it derived from the language of the Angles. It was heavily added to by the Normans, after 1066, who spoke French. But most day to day words and the grammar construct are from Anglo Saxon.

But language as we know it today is descended from Proto-Indo-European.

ragingloli's avatar

Some animal in prehistoric times. Probably even during the trilobite stage.

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DominicX's avatar

@zenvelo [Most] European languages are descended from Proto Indo-European, but not the world’s languages and there isn’t much consensus on all the languages deriving from one family or original language, though certainly Sumerian and ancient Afroasiatic languages are some of the oldest attested.

Written records are really the only way we can date languages, but we know that language pre-dated writing, so it’s difficult to tell beyond that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wonder who the first primitive human was to convey meaning behind specific sounds in the way humans do.

talljasperman's avatar

The first written language is Sanskrit or hieroglyphics. In the middle east of Egypt .

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Darth_Algar's avatar

There’s a hypothesis or two, but no solid knowledge of a first language.

@dina_didi “English is a language based on Latin so it could not be the first.”

English is a Germanic language, not a Latin one, although it does have loan words from Latin and a few Latin languages (mainly French, Italian and Spanish). Pretty much every language has loan words from other languages though.

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chewhorse's avatar

I would say Sumerian but whadda I know, I wasn’t even around then (I don’t think). I do know that the Chinese claim to have been a part of civilization for over 5,000 years but again, there’s no one alive today to confirm that boast.

jayant's avatar

First language on the earth was Sanskrit

Lightlyseared's avatar

Current theory goes that it evolved in Africa about 150k to 200k years ago. It then spread out form Africa about 70k years ago.

Some languages in Africa have over 200 distinct sounds compared to only 46 for English. So there was a rich base for diversity

Pachy's avatar

Grunts and body gestures, I imagine. Certainly not English or any other language we’d recognize today.

rojo's avatar

Observing our closest relatives, the great apes, will give you some idea about the beginnings of communication and language in our own species. Do you ever wonder if adolescent Bonobos have a grunt that is equivalent to “like”

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jayant….there is a gap of thousands and thousands of years between the first language and the first written language.

Bonobos are horny little critters!

Darth_Algar's avatar

Why do people keep saying Sanskrit was the first language? It’s not even as old as some other languages we know of or that are in use today, such as Sumerian, Egyptian and Chinese.

SomeoneElse's avatar

I wonder how things got names, when I imagine there was just a lot of pointing and grunting.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, kids make up their own words.

talljasperman's avatar

baby talk…that developed into grunts. then into a language.

Pazza's avatar

Probably dolphin or whale.

downtide's avatar

The first written languages emerged about 3500–3300 BC and it appears that Sumerian and Egyptian Heiroglyphs emerged more or less simultaneously within that range. There is (obviously) no evidence of when spoken language first emerged but it seems likely to me that it evolved gradually from the more primitive forms of communication we see today in apes. So it is probably impossible to give a definitive answer on when it began or what the language actually was.

citizenearth's avatar

Only Adam knew, if you believe the Bible.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What about Eve?

chewhorse's avatar

@Dutchess_III .. What about Eve? She probably taught him ☺.. I mean (shrug) she was blamed for everything else.

talljasperman's avatar

Grunting, and random noises.

chewhorse's avatar

So, “OogaBooga” DOES have meaning, eh? What about igpay atenlay? Who invented that I wonder.. and when?

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