Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 18:07:15 +0100 To: Evolution of Language
From: Waruno Mahdi Subject: EvolLang: Man or Woman?
I fully agree that women are considerably more proficient in
the use of language, and that one reason for that is indeed
perhaps that hunting and stalking requires quietness and patience.
Another factor perhaps is, that although hierarchies exist in
both gender groups, arguments about who has the say are much more
detrimental in hunting and domain-defence than in foraging and
child-care. So here too, it seems important for men to learn to
hold their tongue until the opportunity comes when it is safe to
Nevertheless, I don't think this has any bearing upon which of the two genders started it all. I think that human social behaviour, insofar as it differs in principle from the animal, was first learned in child sibling hierarchies resulting from over-long childhood. Human language, insofar as it differs in principle from animal signalization, must too then, have begun among children. As a woman would give birth again long before her previous child(ren) reach(es) adulthood, the ratio of number of children to number of women is too high for women alone to care after the children, and sibling hierarchies must take over part of the chores.
I think therefore, that youth slang and the tendency among children to form Pig-Latin-style secret language are attavisms of an early state, when children started modifying vocal signalization in a social organisatorial context (animal social structure is taxonomically invariant, in humans it is culturally variable).