Translation and the Origin of Language

How many languages are there in the world?
According to the Ethnologue catalog of world languages, one of the best linguistic resources, 7,099 languages are spoken today. Of those, only 23 languages are spoken by more than half the world’s population. Interestingly, Nearly 2/3 of languages are from Africa and Asia and 86% of people use Asian or European languages due to the population as well as recent colonial expansion.

So how did language begin?
There are many stories about why people speak different languages such as the Biblical Tower of Babel or the Hindu World Tree. Despite many long years of discussion, there is no scholastic consensus on the origin or age of human language.

There are various hypotheses about the origin of language. Historical linguist Max Müller announced one set of remarkable speculations in 1861. His theories are:

  1. The bow-wow theory (cuckoo theory) – The idea that speech comes from people imitating the cries of beasts and birds.
  2. The pooh-pooh theory – The idea that speech arose from emotional interjections and exclamations triggered by pain, pleasure, surprise, etc.
  3. The ding-dong theory – The idea that speech reflects from a vibrating natural resonance.
  4. The yo-he-ho theory – The idea that speech emerged from the rhythmic chants and grunts people used to synchronize their physical actions.
  5. The ta-ta theory (proposed in 1930 by Sir Richard Paget) – The idea that speech started with the tongue movements to mimic manual gestures and render them audible.

No one has yet proved any theory to be definitively correct and the origin of language remains a mystery.


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As stated in the beginning, there are thousands of living languages in the today’s world. Transfluent offers over 100 language pairs and all of our translators are a native speaker of the target language and fluent in the source language. Contact us today and communicate with people across the globe!