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Words of the People
An Exhibit on Language

Words of the People
  • Psychology and Pathology of Speech Devel... (by )
  • The Canterbury Tales (by )
  • A Comparative Grammar of the Gaudian Lan... (by )
  • The Principles of the International Phon... (by )
  • Selections from Chaucer's Canterbury Tal... (by )
  • National Symposium on Learning Disabilit... (by )
  • The Science Of Language Vol I (by )
  • The Tower of Babel, A Poetical Drama (by )
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The Words of the People:  An Exhibit on Language

From the oldest forms of writings with pictographs and Cuneiform in 3500 B.C. to the generation of the first alphabet; of all the strides that we have made in technology, Language has been the single most important "invention" since the dawn of man.  In fact, language defies time.  Language is the greatest man-made achievement.  Tone, intonation, inflection, the tongue, the throat, the breath and the brain:  all lifeforms have some form of communication.  The proceeding Collections in "The Words of the People:  An Exhibit on Language" includes the most significant books on the subject of language.

Language, Literature, Children's Literature, Hawaiiana, Poetry and more.
Language and Learning
Language and Learning
The root of the word language comes from the Latin term lingua, meaning "tongue."  This definition’s attention to the human tongue highlights this muscle as the primary tool used by the body to shape combinations of uttered sounds to form the words of a spoken language.  However, we can examine how languages also have a life of their own beyond an individual body. The “Words of the People:  An Exhibit on Language" illustrates how language can be studied through its human biological and cognitive properties, as well as through its temporal and relational nature.  

Language depends upon social customs and the ability for other humans to learn and adapt to social stimuli.  The Science of Language Volume I, details theories on how early humans created words through vocalizations with the speech organs such as the throat, nose, tongue, palate, teeth, and lips, producing thousands of sounds.  However, a typical language group utilizes only a limited number of sounds, usually between 10 and 60, which are interpreted aurally (The Science of Language, Volume 1, K.M. Max Muller).  

In The National Symposium on Learning Disabilities in English Language Learners, proffers that the capacity to learn a language is based on individual factors, such as neurobiology, and contextual factors, such as environmental and social support (U.S. Department of Education, The National Symposium on Learning Disabilities in English Language Learners, U.S. Department of Education).  Edward Conradi, a Professor of Psychology, wrote a thesis titled Psychology and Pathology of Speech Development of the Child.  In this work, Conradi details how the various sounds a child makes after birth becomes the foundation for learning his mother tongue (Conradi, Psychology and Pathology of Speech Development of the Child, Edward Conradi).  Later, the author became the President of the Florida State College of Women, the first women’s college in the south approved by the Association of American Universities (“Edward Conradi,” World Heritage Encyclopedia).  Perhaps it was through his studies in child psychology that Conradi believed all people should be given the opportunity to develop their language, and contribute to their culture and society. 
Language Across Time
Language Across Time
Writing allowed particular languages to be remembered for longer periods of time.  The oldest writing is traced to the Sumerians, whose records go back to at least 3500 B.C.  They used a form of picture writing that told a story or gave a message. The use of pictures as a writing style became so highly developed that it could express abstract ideas. Many present-day Asian countries such as China continue to use this form of writing (“Language,” World Heritage Encyclopedia and "The History of the Alphabet," World Heritage Encyclopedia). 

However, alphabetic systems of writing differ from picture writing because they are not static.  Alphabetic writing is comprised of symbols, such as letters of the alphabet, that represent a vocalized sound (“Language”).  Alphabetic writing changes to reflect the evolution of spoken language (“Language,” World Heritage Encyclopedia and "Letter Alphabet," World Heritage Encyclopedia).  The Canterbury Tales was told by storyteller and poet Geoffrey Chaucer is an example,  The original writing of this work used different spellings, reflecting pronunciations of words according to the vernacular of Chaucer’s time.  However, when the work was written in later editions, the spellings of words changed to reflect pronunciations during those times (The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer). The International Phonetic Association (IPA) has transcribed words in this book, using symbols to demarcate specific speech sounds.  The Principles of the International Phonetic Association, 1912 chronicles the history of the IPA, creating a tool often used in dictionaries to assist readers in the pronunciation of words as they are spoken in their contexts (The Principles of the International Phonetic Association, International Phonetic Association). 


The Great Vowel Shift
Before Modern English, there were "Old English" and Middle English."  In 1550 A.D., a documented event called "The Great Vowel Shift occurred. 


Language Families
Language Families
The Tower of Babel: A Poetical Drama by Alfred Austin is a dramatization of a biblical story that tells us that all languages were at once one.  However, a heavenly intervention confused people’s languages and scattered them around the world (Tower of Babel, Alfred Austin).  Despite the differences of today, it is possible to examine the relationships between languages.  One way to classify these relations are through the concept of language families, or a group of languages that are related through descent from a common ancestor, or proto-language.  Language families can be divided into smaller phylogenetic units, or branches of the language family.  For example, the Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Romance and Indo-Iranian languages are phylogenetic units of the indo-European language family (“Tower of Babel,” World Heritage Encyclopedia). 

Different languages can also transform one another when they come into contact.  These are called "Sprachbund."  The book,  A Comparative Grammar of the Gaudian Languages, With Special Reference to the Eastern Hindi, Accompanied by a Language-Map and a Table of Alphabets details how the Indian Subcontinent is a Sprachbund, or "...a geographical region that has several languages that feature common linguistic structures due to language contact and not common origin..." (A Comparative Grammar of the Gaudian Languages, With Special Reference to the Eastern Hindi, Accompanied by a Language-Map and a Table of Alphabets, August Frederich Rudolf Hoernle).  "Language Isolates" are languages that have no known relatives, such as the Basque language (“Basque Language,” World Heritage Encyclopedia).  "Contact Languages" are created when languages that do not come from a single ancestor come into contact to create "mixed" or Creole languages (“Language,” World Heritage Encyclopedia).  Hawaiian Pidgin, for instance, is an example of a Creole.  Of note:  Hawaiian Pidgin is the only known language in history to be created by children.  On pineapple, coffee and sugar cane plantations in Hawaii, there was such a diversity of workers that the children (in order to be able to socialize together) unconsciously created a Creole that is still spoken widely in the State of Hawaii.  Hawaiian Creole is a mixture of "loanwords" and phrases from over a dozen languages, including Hawaiian, Modern English, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Portuguese.

Debates on the study of language revealed its multi-dimensionality.  Language has been studied biologically and cognitively, as an action of the vocal chords to create sounds with the use of the tongue.  Languages function as organisms that survive over time through becoming a written language, or a spoken language that endures as a descendant of a proto-language.  Spoken language can also dynamically transform by taking on the properties of other languages it is in contact with.  The “Words of People: An Exhibit" on Language” features language as a multi-dimensional subject that covers the biological, historical and cultural aspects of human communication.  
Works Cited
Austin, Alfred.  The Tower of Babel, A Poetical Drama.  Edinburgh:  William Blackwood and Sons, 1874.  

"Basque Language."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.  Web.  2014.

Chaucer, Geoffrey.  The Canterbury Tales.  New York:  Macmillan, 1910.  

Conradi, Edward.  Psychology and Pathology of Speech Development of the Child.  Volume 11.  Pedagogical Seminary, September, 1904.

Department of Education.  The National Symposium on Learning, Disabilities in English Language Learners.  Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, U.S. Department of Education, 2003.  

"Edward Conradi."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.  Web.  2014.

"The History of the Alphabet."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.  Web.  2014.

Hoernle, August Frederich Rudolf.  A Comparative Grammar of the Gaudian Languages, With Special Reference to the Eastern Hindi, Accompanied by a Language-Map and a Table of Alphabets.  London:  Trubner and Co., 1880.  

International Phonetic Association.  The Principles of the International Phonetic Association.  Paris:  Association Phonétique Internationale, 1912.  

"Language."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.  Web.  2014.

"Letter Alphabet."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.  Web.  2014.

Muller K.M. Max.  The Science of Language.  Volume 1.  London:  Longmans, Green and Co., 1899.  

"Tower of Babel."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.  Web.  2014.



Language Collections
Learn more about the evolving nature of languages in these collections:

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Islamic Literature Collection


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Ebooks Libres et Gratuits Collection


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