Why is it difficult to agree with Psammetichus that Phrygian must have been the original human language?

Phrygian as original human language
    Psammetichus I was an ancient Egyptian ruler who became the first pharaoh of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt during the Saite period. He governed from the city of Sais, which is located in the Nile delta, for a period of time spanning from 664 to 610 BC. 

    According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Psammetichus conducted an experiment to find out where language originated from, and this is what he is most famous for. Herodotus wrote that Psammetichus instructed a shepherd to raise two infants in a distant location without speaking to them. The person in charge of taking care of the babies, who happened to be a shepherd, was given the task of providing them with food and taking care of their needs. However, he was specifically told not to communicate with the babies verbally.

    Upon the completion of a span of two years, the young offspring commenced their verbal communication, and the initial term that they frequently echoed was bekos, a term that was subsequently discovered to be the Phrygian expression for bread. According to Psammetichus' findings, it can be inferred that the ability to communicate through speech is an inherent trait possessed by humans, and that the primary language that humans are naturally inclined to use is Phrygian.

    After having discussed the experiment, it is pertinent to understand what is Phrygian language.

    Phrygian is a language that belongs to the Indo-European language family and was primarily spoken in the region of Anatolia, which is the modern-day Turkey. This language was prevalent during the classical antiquity period, which spanned from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD. The language in question is none other than the ancient tongue of the Phrygians, a people who once thrived in the heart of central-western Anatolia.

    The Phrygian language, which has been the subject of much scholarly inquiry, is widely believed to be a member of the Indo-European linguistic family. However, due to the fragmentary nature of the evidence available, the precise position of Phrygian within this family remains a topic of some uncertainty and debate among experts in the field. Despite these challenges, researchers continue to study the language in order to gain a better understanding of its unique features and its place within the The Phrygian language exhibits significant similarities and shared characteristics with both the Greek and Armenian languages, indicating a potential linguistic connection and historical relationship between these cultures. During the period spanning from the 1800s to the initial half of the 1900s, the Phrygian language was predominantly categorized as a satem language. This classification placed it in proximity to other languages such as Armenian and Thracian. However, in contemporary times, Phrygian is widely regarded as a centum language, which indicates its closer association with the Greek language. In times gone by, it was observed that the Phrygian language exhibited characteristics that were reminiscent of the satem language group. This was attributed to a couple of secondary processes that had an impact on the language.

    After having discussed both the experiment and its findings, we will now discuss why the experiment is feeble to support the assertion regarding Phrygia as the original human language.

  1. There are a number of reasons why it is difficult to agree with Psammetichus that Phrygian must have been the original human language
  2. The experiment lacked adequate controls throughout its duration. It is possible that the shepherd engaged in communication with the infants without the awareness or consent of Psammetichus.
  3. The experiment was carried out on a limited number of participants. Based on the limited sample size of only two babies, it is not possible to draw any conclusive or reliable findings regarding the origin of language.
  4. The research study was carried out within a particular societal and behavioural framework that is unique to a specific group of people with shared beliefs, values, customs, and traditions. It is possible that the term for bread in the Phrygian language held greater significance for the infants due to their upbringing in an environment where Phrygian was the predominant language spoken.
  5. There is no evidence to support the notion that Phrygian was the first language spoken by humans. It has been observed that there exist several other languages that belong to the Indo-European family and have been in existence for as long as Phrygian. Therefore, it is not justified to assume that Phrygian is more primitive or fundamental than any of these other languages.
  6. The notion that there is a single "original" human language suffers from a number of issues, some of which are more general in nature and some of which are specific to the argument. Throughout the course of human history, it is highly probable that numerous languages have been spoken by individuals, given that languages are in a state of constant evolution and change. Due to the lack of concrete evidence, it is not feasible to definitively determine which language was initially utilized by the human species.

    Although the Psammetichus experiment holds a significant place in history, it cannot be deemed a reliable source of information when it comes to the origin of language. The claim that Phrygian served as the primary language of humanity in its nascent stages is currently unsupported by empirical evidence. Moreover, there are a multitude of additional factors that could have influenced the lexicon acquisition process of infants, rendering it difficult to definitively attribute the origins of language to any one specific source.

    In fine, it can be stated that according to the results of the experiment conducted by Psammetichus, the origin of language can be traced back to the Phrygian language. This is due to the innate tendency of humans to communicate through speech, as exemplified by the successful upbringing of two infants who did not communicate verbally. Psammetichus's hypothesis that the Phrygian language is the primordial human language is, however, extremely difficult to prove due to a number of factors. The inadequacy of the controls used to assess this hypothesis makes it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. In addition, the study's sample size was quite small, which further complicates matters. The societal context in which the study was conducted must also be considered, as it may have influenced the findings in unexpected ways. The idea that Phrygian was the first human language is unsupported by evidence, and the concept of a single "original" human language is confounded by the ongoing process of linguistic development and change.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post