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  • Writer's pictureKlaus Luehning

#11 | LANGUAGE IN THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE | Unraveling Language: From Gestures to Imperfections

  1. The Evolution of Language: Klaus highlights the natural evolution of language, stemming from the basic human need to communicate desires and needs. From primitive gestures to the development of complex speech, language has served as a crucial tool for conveying intent and sharing experiences.

  2. The Role of Sharing and Cooperation: Klaus underscores the significance of sharing and cooperation in human development. Whether driven by parental instincts or socialization, giving has played a vital role in facilitating group survival and enhancing societal bonds.

  3. Importance of Sourcing and Memorializing: Klaus emphasizes the value of sourcing information and memorializing sources within a group. This practice contributes to knowledge accumulation and helps shape cultural identity, language, and behavioral norms. While artificial intelligence excels at perfect execution, it lacks the imperfections that make human communication and creativity unique.


Based only on my own experience, the use of language evolved from the basic human need or want to share anything. Pointing fingers at someone else, indicating a chunk of meat, that piece of meat I want, and when no reply or other response is forthcoming, I grunt, then grunt differently as a plea for it, and maybe there is recognition on the other party that I want it, and a decision point is reached. Sound, motion, inflection, sight, and emotion are expressed in pointing, mimicking, and using sound variation, all attempts to define the neediness or greediness of myself. A baby will scream for food and shout, which are all in the speech interference zone of recognizable speech, to get the attention of anybody, preferably the mother, to feed from her breast. It is part of being human that a baby’s cries are almost impossible to ignore no matter the circumstances and to help somehow.

To give is the other side of the coin, to not want to see or hear another person suffer or be without something you have. It is part of the mother-child connection, or more developed as a parental gesture, being part of the socialization of related people all sharing food and comfort to help each other be functionally available in the now or some future. Giving may alleviate some survival threats by allowing a group effort rather than just the individual acting independently. The available physical means of communicating need and generosity are finger-pointing, making sounds to bring attention to, mimicking, sniffing, eating gestures, rubbing the stomach, and others.

The refinement of these gestures, accompanied by sounds, may eventually get some to offer a geophony, a sound from nature to help identify what this came from. The agreement, through continued use or by an authority figure memorializing a word for an object or living thing by a name, gives rise to an eventual vocabulary; in time, the organizing of the words into thoughts gave rise to a syntax for mutual use and understanding of the ideas as a permanence we identify as speech. The small bands of people of a particular species, location, and surroundings, as well as developing speech patterns, will eventually, over time, begin the organizing of a language. The language would help establish permanence in thought and intent through words and develop a culture of similar understanding and format to accomplish and create a recognizable pattern of cooperation.

An essential facet of language development and its use is sourcing the information meant to inform, enhance, develop, and add to a group’s knowledge of its place and functions in the life experiment. Memorializing sources refers to a socially acceptable influence in the group that creates and professes the powers of knowledge to add to or change behavior to benefit the group more generally or specifically. The ability to demand conformance through political demand, discipline, or religious dogma then matures a group’s identity in lineage, language, cultural rituals, and routines.

That is a long surmise since the facts are lost in the fog of time. Yet, the need to share is a way to gain status, add to a collection of previous similar information, tempt others to give their own experience and develop an understanding of the substance at hand to know from information from others. Acknowledging the source of the data is establishing the place, person, or event that gave rise to the original set of facts, providing credit, memorializing the basis for future developments, and “praising” the source to continue to offer more for the future understanding of all. The printing press was monumental in this regard, using a recognized language to let millions hear or read the thoughts of previous generations and current practitioners.

Sharing without losing the “imprimatur” of origin and continuing ownership of the content maintains the link between the authorship and the content as from a human source and in its imperfections that identify the fragile and tenuous grasp of reality experienced by us all. A.I. is perfect in delineating prescribed output from imperfect input, perhaps hidden to the casual observer, but still subject by intent as “garbage in, garbage out.” The charm of imperfection, rather than the numbing execution of perfect slavishness, is the key to human inventiveness rather than copycat repetition of incompatible emoting all. It is only a common language that allows one person to know what another person intends before acting. A.I. has to be told what to do, not think through a cascade of other possibilities, shaping a result not tried before. Or does it?



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