Language: What Started it All
Even though human culture incorporates language, language is what started it all. As Kottak and Kozaitis conclude, “the use of language creates social institutions, practices, and the ideology that supports them” (Kottak and Kozaitis, 272). Through language and speech, other aspects of culture developed; language made possible the presentation of more abstract ideas, which led to cultural depth and differences. The innate language facility, therefore, produced derivatives such as writing and reading, incongruities in access to literacy, and accents and dialects, which are cultural archetypes. These constructs have been interpreted culturally and have had extensive consequences.
The mind is a treacherous thing. It is where language is processed, understood, and stored, which is in itself an astonishing capability. But it is also where the products of language are created in order to form opinions— where the decision to discriminate is made. Cultural factors are molded by mankind’s simple desire to express oneself, to be heard, to communicate.
Aguirre, Adalberto and Johnathan H. Turner. American Ethnicity: The Dynamics and Consequences of Discrimination. Boston: McGraw Hill Companies, 2007.
“American Tongues.” Dir. Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker. The Center for New American Media. 5 July 1988. VHS. CNAM, 1988.
Bagley, Robert W. “Anyang writing and the origin of Chinese writing.” The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process. Edited by Stephen D. Houston. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Baines, John. “The earliest Egyptian writing: development, context, purpose.” The
First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process. Edited by Stephen D. Houston. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Calvin, William H. A Brief History of the Mind: From Apes to Intellect and Beyond.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Chomsky, Noam. Reflections on Language. New York: Pantheon Books, 1975.
Cooper, Jerrold S. “Babylonian beginnings: the origin of the cuneiform writing
system.” The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process. Edited by Stephen D. Houston. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Crystal, David. How Language Works. New York: Overlook Press, 2006.
Davis, Joel. Mother Tongue: How Humans Create Language. New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1993.
Elgin, Duane. Awakening Earth: Exploring the Evolution of Human Culture and Consciousness. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1993.
Greenspan, Stanley I. and Stuart G. Shanker, D. Phil. The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved from Our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans. Cambridge: De Capo Press, 2004.
Harris, William V. Ancient Literacy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989.
Kottak, Conrad Phillip and Kathryn Kozaitis. On Being Different: Diversity and Multiculturalism in the North American mainstream. New York: McGraw Hill Companies, 2008.
Jackendoff, Ray. Patterns in the Mind: Language and Human Nature. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.
McCrone, John. The Ape That Spoke: Language and the Evolution of the Human Mind. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1991.
Olivier, J.P. “Cretan Writing in the Second Millennium BC.” World Archaeology. 1986: p. 377-389.
Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the World. New York: Routledge Publishing, 1982.
Ostler, Nicholas. Empires of the World: A Language History of the World. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2005.
Pinker, Steven. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.
Robertson, John S. “The possibility and actuality of writing.” The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process. Edited by Stephen D. Houston. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Robinson, Andrew. The Story of Writing: Alphabets, Hieroglyphics, and Pictograms. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1995.
Rudgley, Richard. The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age. New York: Touchstone, 1999.
Stephanek, --. Martin Luther. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.
Wilson, Frank R. The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture. New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.
Yang, Charles. The Infinite Gift: How Children Learn and Unlearn the Languages of the World. New York: Scribner, 2006.
Yule, George. The Study of Language. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.