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The Language – Second important transformation

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The language can’t be fossilized. The language was the second most important transformation in development of human civilizations. It was the protolanguage by which our ancestors started spoken. The use of language did not happen suddenly. The language is a gradual process taking thousands of years. The use of protolanguage had been started 40000 years ago with minimal communication. Earlier to protolanguage, about 130000 - 280000 years ago, as per anatomical studies of mouth and throat, African Homo sapiens have considerable improvements in cognitive abilities.

Consequences of use of language

1.    More Efficient Communication, More Advanced Thinking

Language rendered communication much more efficient, making possible the appearance of more complex and better functioning human communities. Language also resulted in more advanced thinking; that is, it considerably increased our mental abilities. Thinking is the mental representation of the world and also the manipulation of this representation. Both are made more efficient by language (for example, by the recognition of conceptual relations). Language made possible abstract conceptual thinking, which rendered humans capable of referring to objects remote in space or time. For instance, longer term planning built on past experiences appeared, and due to better communication, planning has increasingly become a collective action.

Through more efficient communication and increased mental abilities language caused a significant extension of human transformation of the biosphere. This was partly realized by the quite sudden and unprecedented increase in technological complexity beginning about 280,000 years ago (which suggests an early appearance of language). Not only more tools, but also qualitative changes can be observed in the findings. For example, the appearance of composite tools and single-purpose stone tools and later materials, such as bone, never or rarely used before. New hunting tools and skills also became widespread. For instance, better communication made collective hunting more efficient, making possible the hunting of large animal species that were probably killed only occasionally before. These achievements – together with the more efficient exchange of information because of better communication, and the increase in the distance of trade that insured greater existential certainty in times of dearth by making distant resources available – resulted in the increased exploitation of natural resources. This in turn may have caused population growth, as shown by indirect evidences.

2.    Migration and gathering of people on the planet

Modern humans first migrated out of Africa about 100,000 years ago. In a few tens of thousands of years they have peopled most of the habitable lands on Earth, displacing or exterminating other humans formerly inhabiting those lands. According to molecular genetic data interbreeding might also have occurred in several places. It is likely that this fast spreading of modern humans was eventually a result of the possession of language, and especially the accompanying new hunting skills and tools.

The oldest East Asian finding of modern humans is 67,000 years old. However, unlike the earlier human inhabitants of this region, modern humans did not stop at the Eastern shores of Asia, but presumably built water crafts (boats or rafts) and reached Australia about 52,000 – 60,000 years ago. In a few thousand years after human arrival most of the continent’s large animal species have become extinct. It is likely that these extinctions were caused primarily by the overhunting and habitat destruction of the first Australians.


The first archaeological evidences of sewn clothes, needles made of bone and tents made of animal skins and bones are about 40,000 years old and originate from Europe (another destination of modern humans). These clothes and tents were indispensable for peopling colder areas uninhabited before. The first findings indicating human presence beyond the Arctic Circle are about 36,000 years old, and a few thousand years later humans reached Siberia and Northeast Asia as well. The first human inhabitants of America arrived from these areas about 13,000 – 15,000 years ago. Similarly to Australia, the colonization of the continent was accompanied by the extinction of many large animal species (especially mammals). Although the contemporaneous termination of the last Ice Age may complicate the explanation, it is very likely that humans were primarily to blame for these extinctions. In each case, the peopling of new areas resulted in the growth of the world population.

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