What is Human?
“… when they found me … crouching in the blackness over the plump, half-eaten body of Capt. Norrys … they say … I heard voices … Magna Mater! . . . Atys . . . Dia ad aghaidh ’s ad aodann . . . agus bas dunach ort! Dhonas ’s dholas ort, agus leat-sa! . . . Ungl . . . ungl . . . rrrlh . . . chchch . . .” Rats in the Walls by H. P. Lovecraft as he expresses the degeneration back to proto-man’s speech (or beyond) in one of his classic horror tales.
Horror writers explore the darker side of humanity. By seeing the worst of atrocities, by seeing the most dehumanizing things that can happen to us, we experience a mental process by which we also find the truest and best about who we are. Most fantasy fiction attempts to answer some aspect of the deep questions of “who are we” and “why do things happen the way they happen”. Now comes a new scietific study that pushes us closer to understanding that most human of all traits, speech.
Horror writers must master intricacies of language art to communicate and entertain. Does speech really define our humanity? Below is a summary of the recent study, and a video that challenges to what it means to be human. A bonobo appears to be an ape. Bonobos do not have vocal apparatus as finely attuned as ours. What if they did? Maybe they are just people of a different sort? Watch the video and be very stunned, as a bonobo clearly understands complex language and easily cooperates with a kind and respectful researcher.
All languages may have descended from a single ancestral tongue spoken by early humans between 50,000 and 70,000 years ago, a new study suggests. Published Thursday in the journal Science, it could help explain how the first spoken language emerged. Research is based on phonemes, distinct units of sound such as vowels, consonants and tones, and a principle that when a small number of individuals break off from a larger population, there is a gradual loss of variation and complexity in the breakaway group.
Another theory of the origin of modern humans, known as the multiregional hypothesis, holds that earlier forms of humans slowly developed their anatomically modern form in every area of the World. This scenario implies that several variants of modern human language could have emerged somewhat independently in different locations.