Everything you always wanted to know about language
December 4, 2013
MPI researchers periodically select questions submitted through the web page and post new answers there. Visit our Q&A to read answers for some of our first submissions. You will find responses written by a broad range of experts from the institute, accompanied by relevant links and suggestions for further reading. Each week we post a “question of the week” on the MPI front page (look for it in the right portlet).
Suppose you would like to know: What was language like in the very beginning?
Then, our answer would be:
Nobody knows! This is one of the biggest problems in the field of language evolution. Unlike stone tools or skeletons, the language that people use doesn't fossilise, so we can’t study it directly. We have examples of writing from over 6,000 years ago which can help us work out what languages were like relatively recently, but recent research suggests that people have been using languages very much like our own for maybe 500,000 years. Read more on our Q&A page!