Tag Archives: Language

On the Origins of Spoken Language

Early on in the animal we call man, some impulse sent a shudder upward from the abdomen, breath vibrating vocal chords into a spasm of sound. We may call this sound voice, and the impulse, emotion, a feeling so strong it spilled over into the heard world on a primal flow of vowels.

Emotion rides on a river of vowels.

Today consonants chart complicated maps, pinning each sound into a place of reason, molding the vowels into words. The city of the mind grows, our modern tongues laden with the scrims of intellect. Do ancient languages echo more clearly with the primal howls?

Native speakers, what song rises in you?

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On Consonants, Vowels, and Diphthongs

To interrupt the stream of vowels is profound, is violent, repressive, and necessary. Glottal stops like “k” and “t” sever the breath, tighten the belly, clench the mouth, like water crashing on walls of rock.

Hard consonants cut the emotion off, while the soft ones do not obstruct it. “N”s and “l”s are smooth like boulders the water curves around.

Diphthongs are gliding vowel sounds that gently inflect emotion, wringing it out, the way grief bends gradually into acceptance of loss.

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