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These illustrations show (a) the collection of symbols that accompany the Magdalenian cave art in France, from 20,000 years ago or less, and characters in three of the early written languages which resemble the Paleolithic marks: (b) Indus Valley signs, India, (c) Greek (western branch), and (d) Runic (after Forbes and Crowder, 1979)---From Plato Prehistorian by Mary Settegast.
It has long been noted that the beautiful Magdalenian cave art included not only graphic pictures of animals and other things, but it also included several solitary written symbols. If one rearranges the Indian, Greek and Runic symbols to make identical or similar symbols line up with each other, one can readily see that these writing systems, and the symbols in the caves, were essentially identical.
The conclusions are tantalizing! One cannot escape the realization that the graphic symbols of Magdalenian art 20,000 years ago very likely formed the basis for the earliest Runic, Greek and Indian writing systems. My question is this: was the cave a place where people went to be initiated into the practice and art of writing? Was writing practiced even 20,000 years ago?
Array: The pattern of meanings, displayed in organized form, derived by studying completely the occurrence of words beginning with one root sound
Meaning (group): In this form of study, a single concept, shared by many language groups, deriving from a common experience, and comprising a minumum of 3 separate dictionary entries from as many languages of words beginning with the same root sound, in this case, the sound of K+vowel+N (but in reality many more dictionary entries invariably comprise a Meaning)
Cluster: In this study, a Cluster is a "noble" and non-etymologically linked group of Meanings that derives from an individual attribute of the original experience that gave rise to the whole Array
Speech: Homo sapiens' verbal communication, using the invariably-ordered short sequences of mouth sounds that we call "words" in full grammatical context, capable of instantly relaying immediately decipherable commands to skillfully employ technological devices
Language: Verbal and other forms of communication that may have been used by the whole line of hominid ancestors, possibly extending to other species as well; functions as expression that modifies behavior, but not necessarily immediately, and not necessarily using technological objects or skills
Phoneme: a small unit of speech; one distinct speech sound
Morpheme: the smallest unit of speech that carries meaning
Ramapithecus: Ancestors of Australopithecus; transitional hominid developing during the drying of the earth's great jungles, dating from roughly 14 million years ago
Australopithecus: Tool-making ancestors of man, dating from about 3 million years ago
Homo habilis: Transitional between Australopithecus and Homo erectus; from Olduvai Bed 1
Homo erectus: Larger than Australopithecus, directly ancestral to Modern Man; dating from about 1 million years ago; developed firemaking half a million years ago, at which time he also acquired heightened tongue capability ours (evidenced by the size of the hole that the nerve to the tongue makes in the skull)
Homo sapiens: Modern man, emerging inexplicably all of a sudden the world over starting roughly 100,000 years ago; identical to us, with same language capability, vocal column, chin, and brain size and organization
Neanderthalers: diverged from and co-existed with Modern Man; became more and more "Neanderthal-like" as time went on; had extremely dense bones, heavy eyebrow ridge, large perfectly circular eye sockets, enlarged visual part of the brain, and no "chin"; doubtful that he had identical language capability to ours; very uniform type lived near polar ice caps; varied types lived farther south; died out roughly 30,000 years ago
Evolution: the slow change in living forms over time, due to changing environmental conditions
Environmental niche: a given set of circumstances in the environment that a life-form uses to make a living in; e.g., sandy desert, under bushes, at night, with oil-bearing seeds plentiful; given the same identical environmental niche, species tend to evolve similarly
Convergent evolution: when two or more species evolve into similar-functioning and appearing forms, due to occupying the same environmental niche
Divergent evolution: when a species begins to evolve into several different forms as it spreads out into new environmental niches
Parallel evolution: when similar species continue to exist side by side without much change, neither one exterminating the other
Mother Tongue: the one language shared by Homo sapiens, ancestral to all modern languages; thought to have formed roughly 100,000 years ago (i.e., concurrently with the emergence of Homo sapiens)
Sound-Meaning Correspondence: the idea that the referent of a word stays attached to the unique sounds of that word over considerable time; currently believed not to last longer than 20,000 years, based on statistical studies
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