Wednesday, September 18, 2002

COMMON ORIGIN OF LANGUAGE

Baby talk more than nonsense
One anthropologist says, it is the foundation for language as we know it.
By Ryan Meehan Editor in Chief September 18, 2002

For those who believe the way mothers talk to their newborns is gibberish, Dean Falk has some news for you:

Baby talk is serious business.

It represents, she says, a microcosm of seven million years of linguistic evolution and further proves that man and chimpanzee are offspring of a common ancestor....

There are too many similarities in the way mother chimps interact with their infants and human mothers interact with theirs, she says.

For instance, one way humans establish emotional communication with a baby is by tickling.

The baby typically responds by laughing. The mother again tickles the baby and achieves the same result.

This, Falk says, teaches the infant the idea of “taking turns” in a conversation.

And chimps, Falk says, are no different.

Mother chimps have been observed tickling their babies and bringing about the same responses.

Baby chimps, like humans, are helpless at birth, become distressed when separated from the mother and have a fear of strangers.

However, the difference with chimps is that communication is more gestural.

“We are the only species in the world that chock up little bits of air and spew it forth,” Falk said....