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Search For A Common Language Origin May Lead To A Dead-End

By James Donahue

We read with interest a report that a team of scientists at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico is attempting to reconstruct the "mother of all languages," believing that the various languages of the world originated from a common source.

The Evolution of Human Languages project, headed by Nobel Laureate physicist Murray Gell-Mann, is an international effort to collect an etymological database of all of the world's languages. From there, linguists are attempting to reconstruct and compare ancestor languages in an attempt to go all the way back to an original language from where it all began.

Some scientists have already criticized the project saying that historical language cannot be studied beyond an 8000-year threshold. That is because language is in a constant state of change. And as cultures mix, the words they use become intertwined. People tend to borrow words to suit their needs, and the very meaning of words have ways of changing over time. Examples of this would be the English words "gay," "boot," "firewall" and "head." The English language has a way of changing quickly, largely because of the common use of jargon and cute phrases that take on whole new meanings of their own almost overnight.

Nevertheless, the team is forging ahead, undaunted, believing that even after thousands of years of constant change, some common words may still exist, says John Bengtson of the Association for the Study of Language in Prehistory at Cambridge.

The study is looking for some base words, like the number "one," the noun for "water," or "fire" and the pronoun "we." These are words that are essential in all cultures and had to have been in human language before significant cultural advances occurred.

Using this method, the team has grouped all of the languages of the world into 12 linguistic "superfamilies, and tentatively grouped four of these into one super-superfamily that they are calling "Borean." This ancestor to what is believed to be the origin of most of contemporary languages may have been spoken some 16,000 years ago.

The scientists have refined its hypothesis even further by suggesting that during the last ice age the advancing glaciers pushed humanity sough, thus forcing linguistic groups together into the last warm places available for their survival. Thus much of the world linguistic diversity may have been lost, and the languages now in existence may have emerged from that one source called Borean.

This is a somewhat strange theory coming from people who are intent on studying the variations in languages from so many cultures. Anyone who has ever listened intently to the Navajo language in the Southwest (used effectively as a code that dumbfounded the Japanese during World War II) or the various dialects within China, and compared this to ancient Latin or Icelandic language patterns, must come to an understanding that everything about these languages is uniquely different, including the way words are created by use of tongue, nose and throat muscles.

This is why the Navajo people who learn English have a distinct vocal pattern in their voices that set them apart as Navajo, even though they are no longer speaking their native tongue. The same holds true for most Chinese, Japanese, and European people. They all give away their origins because of the way they learned to speak as children.

The problem of language variation has perplexed mankind for ages. This is evident since there is an attempted explanation included in the Tower of Babel story in the Old Testament Book of Genesis. That story blames God for the confusion, saying that he punished the people for trying to build a tower to reach heaven, and scattered the people all over the world, not only splitting them apart, but giving them different languages so they could no longer communicate.

A story like that is in total conflict with the ultimate purpose of our existence, of course. According to the Prophet Aaron C. Donahue, we are here to enhance the Universe, which, in itself, is a giant communication system. We were put here to collectively grow spiritually, mentally and in numbers until we reached the nexus, with 10,000 souls all transmitting in a common telepathic link, thus becoming the very eyes and ears of the creator.

Our purpose, Donahue says, was profound. We were created so that the creator could use our eyes and our minds to understand and perceive itself. Yet after several efforts that spanned millions of years and literally used up the resources and the life of our solar system, it appears that this, in our last-ditch effort to achieve what we were meant to do, the entire project is crashing around us.

While at the brink of great success, we are also on the brink of launching a nuclear war that will drive us all into extinction. The insanity of it all is impossible to fathom.

The Genesis Tower of Babel story is an obvious crock.

That we were purposefully planted on this planet by an alien race, or a "god" as some would like to call it, cannot be denied. And if there were more than one "plantings" it would readily explain the variations in language and stories concerning our origins.

The llinguist researchers at Santa Fe Institute obviously need something to do to wile away their time. Looking for root words in our language is as good a project for them as any. Who knows, they might find something of real interest.