Music is more than the language of love…

It also might be the origins of thought…… think about it.

This video is fascinating. It shows music on a very intense and personal level, conveying information just like language. Music is language, the language of personal expression.

Jesperson’s long ago suggested a “sing – song” theory of language origins.. That as mothers sang to their children, language slowly arose.

As with so much “conjecture” there is a lot of truth to it, I believe. But even more true would be to note that music probably WAS the proto-language, the mother of all mother languages for thousands of years. Music was a means of personalizing, of conveying information about the person’s thoughts and feelings – just like this man does so skillfully. Slowly, it did become a formal system I believe, not as many think, because it gave some kind of adaptive advantage. Rather, because it felt good (though you might argue this was “adaptive”. ).

Steven Mithen is an archaelogist I wish I’d read earlier in my studies. His “Singing Neadrathal”, puts forth his own theory that music developed first – as humans expressed emotions. Then, language developed on top, as a means of conveying information. Music or his “Hmmmm” was the protolanguage” and how people did communicate before formal language. It is a wonderful read and I highly recommend it.

I have a personal connection to this topic. Not just as a poet but also because of one of my own afflictions – Forster’s syndrome. Broadly defined, it is obsessive punning but for me, it manifests not just in pun but in the rhythm and flow of language. I’ve learned to control it and monitor it – through a little voice in my head. But get me drinking or in the right mood and words just connect and flow, as music, with a deeper and more visceral connection. One word leads to another, automatically and they connect by some mysterious force of rhythm, meaning and rhyme. To me, this is my own connection, in my genome and being, with the ancient origins of language.

It does any teacher well to ponder the connect between music and language.As I watch this video, the man IS communicating to me. Directly and viscerally. It is communication and language. To me, it makes sense to think in Mithen’s terms. What do you think?

If you liked this post – this site offers lots of info. about language origins. Or read my post and meditation on language origins.

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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