Linguistic Anthropology

Why are there so many languages?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. The biblical story of the Tower of Babel tells us that there are many languages because the people who built the edifice did it for their own glory and fame, rather than the glory of God. In return, God created numerous languages so that humankind could never work together again. However, modern linguists have been unable to track down the very first language, so we may never know what it was or how it died out. What we do know is that languages are developed communally, because people living together must agree on how to say things that are relevant to the community's interests, such as, "Let's go hunting; everyone is out of meat." Different communities would have needed different words -- a hypothetical vegetarian community, for example, wouldn't need that word for meat. As our early ancestors began to cross greater distances for trade and hunting, then they may have had to learn new languages to interact with other people.

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