Fuzale Rana on origin of language

As I have said before, I don’t agree at all with RTB’s literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11, but I still think they make a good case for humanity beginning with Homo Sapien Sapiens. I think Rana makes a pretty good case for the origin of language being saltational and it starting with homo sapiens. What does everyone here think?


On another note, I would like to thank everyone here for providing such good discussions. I was thinking today about what a blessing this forum has been. Seminary was the happiest time of my life and from time to time, I get really sad because that period of my life is over. Joining the discussions here have helped bring back some of the joy I felt being able to discuss theology so openly with extremely knowledgeable people in seminary.

Thanks everyone.



Faz Rana is not up on the latest research results on How Language Begin. There is mountains of evidence in artifacts that language goes back at least to Homo Erectus 2 million years ago. All the points Faz makes about Homo Sapiens is present far earlier and in all other species of the Genus Homo. Faz should read new books on the subject like:


It has been great having you here @Mark. We have much to learn from each other, all of us. This, also, is just the beginning. Much more is ahead of Peaceful Science.


I don’t know if that is true in this case @Patrick. It seems rather that there is debate about this among scientists. Yes, Homo erectus probably had some type of language, perhaps even beyond the great apes. Was it quite the same as ours? We don’t know yet, it is not unreasonable to say Erectus did not have the same language ability as us. The same can be argued all the way up the line to Neandertals, and even archaic Homo sapiens.

Of note, recursive though it is uniquely human, and seems to come all at once. This a major leap, and it is hard to imagine it coming in multiple steps. It seems to be there or not. I could be wrong, but it is at least plausible to argue this is the case.


@Mark I wish you all the best in life. Hope discussions here made you think and laugh at the wonderful world and time we live in. Live long and prosper.

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From “How Language Began” page 224:

There may be theoretical reasons for claiming that recursion underwrites all modern or prehistoric languages, but it simply does not match the facts of either modern or prehistoric languages or our understanding of the evolution of languages.

He goes on to say that the evidence is there that Homo Erectus had G3 languages with both hierarchy and recursion. Faz Rana’s piece is correct if he expands humans to include all of the species of the Genus Homo going back 2 million years. There is absolutely no evidence to limit language to just Homo Sapiens and exclude Neanderthals, Denosivan, and Homo Erectus from the evolution of language, culture and everything else that makes us human.

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What evidence does he offer for recursion in erectus?

I’m not saying he is wrong. I’m just saying there is legitimate debate on this right now, and because language does not fossilize, that debate might go on for a while.

Homo Erectus used symbols. And with symbols plus linear order we have language. Adding duality of patterning to the mix, an easy couple of baby steps get us ever more efficient languages. Thus the procession of symbols, especially in the presence of evidence that culture existed, evidence strong for both erectus and neanderthals, indicates that it is highly likely that language was in use in their communities.

But the artifacts are there, the stone tool industry, the evolution of culture. These point to an evolution of language. It is gradual every advancing human culture and language that is shown in the fine tuning of the speech and hearing apparatus from Homo Erectus to Homo Sapiens. There is no jumps, no leaps in culture, language, industry for humans over the past two million years.

You keep saying evidence. Can you cite examples of this evidence?

Also, I don’t think Fuz ignores things. The acrobatics he went through years ago trying to explain pseudogenes without invoking common descent actually convinced me that common descent was true. So I think he deals with evidence, it’s just how he makes sense of the available evidence. That seems to be the difference between rtb and YEC’s. They accept evidence as stated by scientists but disagree about what that means. Some YECs seem to sometimes deny that any evidence even exists, for example for the age of the earth.

Olduwan tool kit 2 million years ago:


Acheulean tool kit 1 million years ago:


Levalloisian tool kit 500,000 years ago.


Billions of these artifacts all over the world over a period of millions of years. This is culture and it is evidence for language as without culture and language this just could be done on a worldwide scale improving over millions of years.

Welcome back TJ Hope you enjoy cringing a lot as I am now on an archaeology binge.

Thanks @Patrick

I’m not sure I understand why stone tools are evidence of language. Can you try explaining it again? How one implies the other?

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Stone tools are evidence of culture and industry. Tools moved with humans and the culture of toolmaking moved with it. The tools were an artifact, an index. They had a name, a word, a symbol among the group who made them. Language grew from the symbols into words, into sentences into languages. It was language and culture that made us human. And that just didn’t just happen suddenly with Homo Sapiens, it was all ready there when Sapiens emerged. Now of course, Sapiens advanced it exponentially in the past 30,000 years.

Hmm…I’m skeptical that stone tools imply recursion, etc. Don’t apes do a pretty good job making a little less complicated tools?

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Glad to hear it. It is the superior discipline :slight_smile:

They didn’t move the technology all over the world. They didn’t constantly improve on the technology over two million years. They didn’t show an evolution of industry and culture.

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Fair enough

Yes, now that ancient genomics is there to anchor it.

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