The Development of Speech and Language

An excerpt from the Passionate Earth: The Evolution of Our Relationship with the Natural World by John Del Signore

The development of language and the vocal capacity for speech has been attributed as the most significant development of any creature on the planet. Language provided a means of communication that allowed complex interactions between individuals or groups of individuals and the capacity to reason and solve problems, understand relationships between things and events and to think about the past and plan for the future. Since information began to be transmitted from generation to generation, humans did not need to learn everything they needed to know from the beginning but could benefit from the ongoing fund of knowledge that was continually accumulating with each new generation. Language also allowed for access to emotions, feelings, creativity, abstract thought and consciousness. Being aware of the world and oneself became a new paradigm that altered the way humans perceived themselves and their relationships with nature. Humans were no longer limited to stimulus-response reactions but to intentional thought, concerted action and highly sophisticated social behavior. A significant sense of separation from the environment was to develop later when the concept of subject and object was introduced into language from philosophy. This issue will be covered soon in the section on philosophy.


Russell, Peter. Waking up in Time, Dawn of Thought, pp. 17-20. Origin Press Inc.,1122 Grant Ave., Suite C, Novato, CA  94945, Copyright 1992 by Peter Russell.

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