How can we move our lips even though they don't have any bones?

How can we move our lips even though they don't have any bones?

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How can we move our lips even though they don't have any bones?

We can move everything if it is attached to the bones. Example: Legs & Arms.

otherwise we can't move it.

Because of the Orbicularis oris muscle, it's a complex of muscles in the lips that encircles the mouth, It forms the greater part of the substance of the lips, lying between the skin and the mucus membrane, and extending from the edge of each lip to its root.

“Help! My Lips Are Thinning!”—Don't Freak! Here’s What to Do

As we age, our faces change. There’s no doubt about it. But while we know to look out for fine lines and wrinkles and loss of volume in the cheeks and under-eye area, what many people might not know is that your lips are prone to aging too—and we’re not just talking about the skin surrounding them. Rather, as we age, our lips slowly become thinner. Not the best news, we know.

But don’t panic! By understanding what causes loss of volume in the lips, as well as the best ways to prevent and treat lip volume loss, you can hold onto a full pout for years to come.

So, what are you waiting for? Keep reading for everything you need to know about preventing and treating thinning lips.

What Causes Thinning Lips

Just like loss of volume in other areas of your face, thinning lips is caused by the breakdown of fat pads underneath the skin. “There are fat pads under the skin, cushioning the muscles and bones on the face,” says board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Susan Van Dyke. “These give our faces a soft and rounded appearance associated with youthfulness. Lips are no exception. There are little fat pads in your lips and depending on your genetics can be thin or quite full naturally.”

Regardless of whether you have ample fat pads or not, thinning is part of aging. “As we age all these fat pads slowly shrink and thin,” Van Dyke explains, noting that, no matter how full your lips are at 20, they will lose volume with time. “The result is a thinning lip (as well as volume depletion on the entire face).” While everyone is prone to lip thinning, if you are born with naturally thin lips, Van Dyke says that the aging effects can be more obvious.

Can you prevent volume loss in the lips?

Technically, yes, but it would require not talking, smoking, drinking, or expressing yourself (as those things lead to the biggest changes in the appearance of your lips). Since avoiding all of those things simultaneously is wholly unlikely, Van Dyke says that preventing volume loss isn’t easy—especially because genetics play a major role. As such, she says that your best bet is to learn ways to cut down on lip-thinning activities, as well as ways to treat thinning lips once they arise.

As always, we’re here to help. Ahead, discover eight ways to treat thinning lips.

How to make schwa sound?

(1) Stand in front of a mirror. Don't close your teeth or open your mouth, just relax your face. Make a sound as if it's coming from your throat or chest (in reality it will be coming from your vocal folds). This should be a schwa sound. In the mirror you should not be able to see your face move at all. If you recorded a video of you practising schwa, but with no sound, we would not know when you were making a sound and when you were silent, because your tongue, jaw and lips - and your face in general - should all be relaxed and not moving at all.

(2) Try to make the sound /b/ as in the word big, but just /b/ on its own. Now try the sound /d/ as in dog and then the sound /g/ as in girl. Do this two or three times. When we say these sounds on their own, we automatically put a little vowel on the end - we have to because they are voiced. If you said the sounds correctly, then you probably said /bə/, /də/ and /gə/. The little vowel that you made by accident after the consonant is a schwa. This is because you were not trying to make any special vowel there.

Schwa only occurs in unstressed syllables. The reason we make schwa like this is because we need to make unstressed syllables shorter than other ones in English. We need the other stressed syllables to be longer and to stand out. Schwas are very quick to make because we do not need to move any of the articulators (the parts of our mouth that we use to make consonants or change the sounds of vowels). If we make a big articulation, a big movement of our mouths, like we do for /æ/ in cat, we need to move our articulators a long way. For /æ/, for example, we have to spread our lips very wide, and drop our jaw very low and move the 'front' (that means the middle) of our tongue so it raises slightly up towards the roof of our mouth. This all takes a lot of time. Because of this, /æ/ is actually quite a long sound, even though it belongs to the so-called 'short vowels'. For a schwa you do not need to move anything! In conclusion then, what you need to do to make a good schwa sound is: nothing!

The action is called "sucking your teeth."

I don't believe there is a single-word for that sound specifically, it's just a "sucking sound."

The sucking sound of him sucking his teeth in irritation echoed in the empty room.

you mean the what was that, how did that happen, i meant to stay quiet kinda type? That can be done on purpose, in which case it might go as "smack ones lips", perhaps in immitation of sucking, but--as comics have it--involving licking (not so in German schmecken or schmatzen).

If it would be more often associated with the (tip of the) tongue, I think of German schnalzen, onomatopoetic e.g. tsk, tse. Wiktionary translates that as

under ety. 1 def. 2, giving tsk specificly as example (although African languages like xoo! are better known for their click-sounds).

In my experience similar noises can come from the uvular ridge, which then sounds like a bit of a grunt, but not oinky.

In general, these are implosive, or properly: ingressive. Which is rather rare as phoneme feature (often in Finnish for a specific yes expression, and similarly in many other languages). If there's no obstruent involved, it comes out a gasp, an intake of air, huh. There are more colorful idioms to describe these, I'm sure

There is too, a word for it in Sranan: "Tjoerie"/"Tyuri" (phonetic: "Chooree"). This is the language spoken in Suriname, the largest Dutch-speaking country in the Caribbean.

To my knowledge there isn't A word for it in English, which only has a description for the action: "kissing one's teeth".

In both environments, it's considered rude to do it. Pupils get berated if they do it in front of teachers, authority figures.

It's a bit neo-colonial, thus rude, to divide the Caribbean into English-speaking, French-speaking, Dutch-speaking and Latinx, therefor we should be careful whenever we do that: always check with the persons you speak with how they feel about that. But, IF we would do it in this case, then one could say that the Anglo and the Dutch have this custom/practice, and the French-Caribbeans call it 'tchip'. Afaik the Latinx don't do it, but my knowledge is not universal.

According to this article Brazilians have it too, but that's just the sound, sort of, with an entirely different meaning.

3. Lip filler longevity claims are more estimates than guarantees.

While a filler may claim to last for up to one year, that does not mean that the amount of filler injected on day one will match what is left on day 365. There may, however, be traces of gel still detectable in the lips close to one year later—or even longer.

The Kysse clinical trial, for instance, ran for 48 weeks. And, according to Dr. Palm, “the efficacy standard set up in the study protocol was a one-point increase in the Medicis Lip Fullness Scale, [as determined] by both treating investigators and a blinded investigator.” This single point signifies “clinically meaningful differences in lip fullness.”

Regardless of the product used, lip-filler patients tend to come in just once, or maybe twice, a year for touch-ups and “usually notice a subtle, gradual decrease in [lip] size over the last few months,” says Dr. Bhanusali.

“The products lose volume over time,” adds Dr. Jennifer Levine, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City. “How long they last also has to do with the amount that needs to be corrected.” If more filler is injected in the first place, then it will generally last longer—simply because there is a greater amount of filler for the body to break down.

12 Fidgets in his seat: He wants outta there!

Occasionally, a guy fidgeting in his seat might mean that he’s anxious to make a good impression, but more often than not, it’s because he’s desperate to get out of there!

There’s an easy way to determine if he’s simply got a bad case of nerves or if he’s looking to bolt: check out his eyes. Body language experts say that if your dude keeps his gaze trained on you, but is a little squirmy in his seat, it could be because he’s trying to keep his hands to himself because he’s feeling you already and he knows it’s way too soon. If, however, his gaze is darting all over the place and looking for emergency exits, it’s because he’s not into it or you and is trying to figure out how to politely excuse himself – and fast.

Although related to the more general problem of the origin of language, the evolution of distinctively human speech capacities has become a distinct and in many ways separate area of scientific research. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] The topic is a separate one because language is not necessarily spoken: it can equally be written or signed. Speech is in this sense optional, although it is the default modality for language.

Uncontroversially, monkeys, apes and humans, like many other animals, have evolved specialised mechanisms for producing sound for purposes of social communication. [6] On the other hand, no monkey or ape uses its tongue for such purposes. [7] [8] Our species' unprecedented use of the tongue, lips and other moveable parts seems to place speech in a quite separate category, making its evolutionary emergence an intriguing theoretical challenge in the eyes of many scholars. [9]

Nevertheless, recent insights in human evolution - more specifically our Pleistocene littoral evolution [10] - help understand how human speech evolved: different biological preadaptations to spoken language find their origin in our waterside past, such as our larger brain (thanks to DHA and other brain-specific nutrients in seafoods), voluntary breathing (breath-hold diving for shellfish etc.) and suction feeding of soft-slippery seafoods. Suction feeding explains why humans, as opposed to other hominoids, evolved hyoidal descent (tongue-bone descended in the throat), closed tooth-rows (with incisiform canine teeth) and a globular tongue perfectly fitting in our vaulted and smooth palate (without transverse ridges as in apes): all this allowed the pronunciation of consonants. Other, probably older, preadaptations to human speech are territorial songs and gibbon-like duetting and vocal learning. Vocal learning, the ability to imitate sounds - as in many birds and bats and a number of Cetacea and Pinnipedia - is arguably required for locating or finding back (amid the foliage or in the sea) the offspring or parents. Indeed, independent lines of evidence (comparative, fossil, archeological, paleo-environmental, isotopic, nutritional, and physiological) show that early-Pleistocene "archaic" Homo spread intercontinentally along the Indian Ocean shores (they even reached overseas islands such as Flores) where they regularly dived for littoral foods such as shell- and crayfish [11] which are extremely rich in brain-specific nutrients, explaining Homo's brain enlargement. [12] Shallow-diving for seafoods requires voluntary airway control, a prerequisite for spoken language. Seafood such as shellfish generally does not require biting and chewing, but stone tool use and suction feeding. This finer control of the oral apparatus was arguably another biological preadaptation to human speech, especially for the production of consonants. [13]

The term modality means the chosen representational format for encoding and transmitting information. A striking feature of language is that it is modality-independent. Should an impaired child be prevented from hearing or producing sound, its innate capacity to master a language may equally find expression in signing. Sign languages of the deaf are independently invented and have all the major properties of spoken language except for the modality of transmission. [14] [15] [16] [17] From this it appears that the language centres of the human brain must have evolved to function optimally irrespective of the selected modality.

"The detachment from modality-specific inputs may represent a substantial change in neural organization, one that affects not only imitation but also communication only humans can lose one modality (e.g. hearing) and make up for this deficit by communicating with complete competence in a different modality (i.e. signing)."

This feature is extraordinary. Animal communication systems routinely combine visible with audible properties and effects, but no one is modality-independent. No vocally impaired whale, dolphin or songbird, for example, could express its song repertoire equally in visual display. Indeed, in the case of animal communication, message and modality are not capable of being disentangled. Whatever message is being conveyed stems from the intrinsic properties of the signal.

Modality independence should not be confused with the ordinary phenomenon of multimodality. Monkeys and apes rely on a repertoire of species-specific "gesture-calls" — emotionally expressive vocalisations inseparable from the visual displays which accompany them. [19] [20] Humans also have species-specific gesture-calls — laughs, cries, sobs and so forth — together with involuntary gestures accompanying speech. [21] [22] [23] Many animal displays are polymodal in that each appears designed to exploit multiple channels simultaneously.

The human linguistic property of "modality independence" is conceptually distinct from this. It allows the speaker to encode the informational content of a message in a single channel while switching between channels as necessary. Modern city-dwellers switch effortlessly between the spoken word and writing in its various forms — handwriting, typing, e-mail and so forth. Whichever modality is chosen, it can reliably transmit the full message content without external assistance of any kind. When talking on the telephone, for example, any accompanying facial or manual gestures, however natural to the speaker, are not strictly necessary. When typing or manually signing, conversely, there's no need to add sounds. In many Australian Aboriginal cultures, a section of the population — perhaps women observing a ritual taboo — traditionally restrict themselves for extended periods to a silent (manually signed) version of their language. [24] Then, when released from the taboo, these same individuals resume narrating stories by the fireside or in the dark, switching to pure sound without sacrifice of informational content.

Speaking is the default modality for language in all cultures. Humans' first recourse is to encode our thoughts in sound — a method which depends on sophisticated capacities for controlling the lips, tongue and other components of the vocal apparatus.

The speech organs, everyone agrees, evolved in the first instance not for speech but for more basic bodily functions such as feeding and breathing. Nonhuman primates have broadly similar organs, but with different neural controls. [9] Apes use their highly flexible, maneuverable tongues for eating but not for vocalizing. When an ape is not eating, fine motor control over its tongue is deactivated. [7] [8] Either it is performing gymnastics with its tongue or it is vocalising it cannot perform both activities simultaneously. Since this applies to mammals in general, Homo sapiens is exceptional in harnessing mechanisms designed for respiration and ingestion to the radically different requirements of articulate speech. [25]

Tongue Edit

The word "language" derives from the Latin lingua, "tongue". Phoneticians agree that the tongue is the most important speech articulator, followed by the lips. A natural language can be viewed as a particular way of using the tongue to express thought.

The human tongue has an unusual shape. In most mammals, it is a long, flat structure contained largely within the mouth. It is attached at the rear to the hyoid bone, situated below the oral level in the pharynx. In humans, the tongue has an almost circular sagittal (midline) contour, much of it lying vertically down an extended pharynx, where it is attached to a hyoid bone in a lowered position. Partly as a result of this, the horizontal (inside-the-mouth) and vertical (down-the-throat) tubes forming the supralaryngeal vocal tract (SVT) are almost equal in length (whereas in other species, the vertical section is shorter). As we move our jaws up and down, the tongue can vary the cross-sectional area of each tube independently by about 10:1, altering formant frequencies accordingly. That the tubes are joined at a right angle permits pronunciation of the vowels [i], [u] and [a], which nonhuman primates cannot do. [26] Even when not performed particularly accurately, in humans the articulatory gymnastics needed to distinguish these vowels yield consistent, distinctive acoustic results, illustrating the quantal nature of human speech sounds. [27] It may not be coincidental that [i], [u] and [a] are the most common vowels in the world's languages. [28] Human tongues are a lot shorter and thinner than other mammals and are composed of a large number of muscles, which helps shape a variety of sounds within the oral cavity. The diversity of sound production is also increased with the human’s ability to open and close the airway, allowing varying amounts of air to exit through the nose. The fine motor movements associated with the tongue and the airway, make humans more capable of producing a wide range of intricate shapes in order to produce sounds at different rates and intensities. [29]

Lips Edit

In humans, the lips are important for the production of stops and fricatives, in addition to vowels. Nothing, however, suggests that the lips evolved for those reasons. During primate evolution, a shift from nocturnal to diurnal activity in tarsiers, monkeys and apes (the haplorhines) brought with it an increased reliance on vision at the expense of olfaction. As a result, the snout became reduced and the rhinarium or "wet nose" was lost. The muscles of the face and lips consequently became less constrained, enabling their co-option to serve purposes of facial expression. The lips also became thicker, and the oral cavity hidden behind became smaller. [29] "Hence", according to one major authority, "the evolution of mobile, muscular lips, so important to human speech, was the exaptive result of the evolution of diurnality and visual communication in the common ancestor of haplorhines". [30] It is unclear whether our lips have undergone a more recent adaptation to the specific requirements of speech.

Respiratory control Edit

Compared with nonhuman primates, humans have significantly enhanced control of breathing, enabling exhalations to be extended and inhalations shortened as we speak. While we are speaking, intercostal and interior abdominal muscles are recruited to expand the thorax and draw air into the lungs, and subsequently to control the release of air as the lungs deflate. The muscles concerned are markedly more innervated in humans than in nonhuman primates. [31] Evidence from fossil hominins suggests that the necessary enlargement of the vertebral canal, and therefore spinal cord dimensions, may not have occurred in Australopithecus or Homo erectus but was present in the Neanderthals and early modern humans. [32] [33]

Larynx Edit

The larynx or voice box is an organ in the neck housing the vocal folds, which are responsible for phonation. In humans, the larynx is descended, it is positioned lower than in other primates.This is because the evolution of humans to an upright position shifted the head directly above the spinal cord, forcing everything else downward. The repositioning of the larynx resulted in a longer cavity called the pharynx, which is responsible for increasing the range and clarity of the sound being produced. Other primates have almost no pharynx therefore, their vocal power is significantly lower. [29] Our species is not unique in this respect: goats, dogs, pigs and tamarins lower the larynx temporarily, to emit loud calls. [34] Several deer species have a permanently lowered larynx, which may be lowered still further by males during their roaring displays. [35] Lions, jaguars, cheetahs and domestic cats also do this. [36] However, laryngeal descent in nonhumans (according to Philip Lieberman) is not accompanied by descent of the hyoid hence the tongue remains horizontal in the oral cavity, preventing it from acting as a pharyngeal articulator. [37]

Despite all this, scholars remain divided as to how "special" the human vocal tract really is. It has been shown that the larynx does descend to some extent during development in chimpanzees, followed by hyoidal descent. [38] As against this, Philip Lieberman points out that only humans have evolved permanent and substantial laryngeal descent in association with hyoidal descent, resulting in a curved tongue and two-tube vocal tract with 1:1 proportions. Uniquely in the human case, simple contact between the epiglottis and velum is no longer possible, disrupting the normal mammalian separation of the respiratory and digestive tracts during swallowing. Since this entails substantial costs — increasing the risk of choking while swallowing food — we are forced to ask what benefits might have outweighed those costs. The obvious benefit — so it is claimed — must have been speech. But this idea has been vigorously contested. One objection is that humans are in fact not seriously at risk of choking on food: medical statistics indicate that accidents of this kind are extremely rare. [39] Another objection is that in the view of most scholars, speech as we know it emerged relatively late in human evolution, roughly contemporaneously with the emergence of Homo sapiens. [40] A development as complex as the reconfiguration of the human vocal tract would have required much more time, implying an early date of origin. This discrepancy in timescales undermines the idea that human vocal flexibility was initially driven by selection pressures for speech.

At least one orangutan has demonstrated the ability to control the voice box. [41]

The size exaggeration hypothesis Edit

To lower the larynx is to increase the length of the vocal tract, in turn lowering formant frequencies so that the voice sounds "deeper" — giving an impression of greater size. John Ohala argues that the function of the lowered larynx in humans, especially males, is probably to enhance threat displays rather than speech itself. [42] Ohala points out that if the lowered larynx were an adaptation for speech, we would expect adult human males to be better adapted in this respect than adult females, whose larynx is considerably less low. In fact, females invariably outperform males in verbal tests, falsifying this whole line of reasoning. W. Tecumseh Fitch likewise argues that this was the original selective advantage of laryngeal lowering in our species. Although (according to Fitch) the initial lowering of the larynx in humans had nothing to do with speech, the increased range of possible formant patterns was subsequently co-opted for speech. Size exaggeration remains the sole function of the extreme laryngeal descent observed in male deer. Consistent with the size exaggeration hypothesis, a second descent of the larynx occurs at puberty in humans, although only in males. In response to the objection that the larynx is descended in human females, Fitch suggests that mothers vocalizing to protect their infants would also have benefited from this ability. [43]

Neanderthal Speech Edit

Most specialists credit the Neanderthals with speech abilities not radically different from those of modern Homo sapiens. An indirect line of argument is that their tool-making and hunting tactics would have been difficult to learn or execute without some kind of speech. [44] A recent extraction of DNA from Neanderthal bones indicates that Neanderthals had the same version of the FOXP2 gene as modern humans. This gene, once mistakenly described as the "grammar gene", plays a role in controlling the orofacial movements which (in modern humans) are involved in speech. [45]

During the 1970s, it was widely believed that the Neanderthals lacked modern speech capacities. [46] It was claimed that they possessed a hyoid bone so high up in the vocal tract as to preclude the possibility of producing certain vowel sounds.

The hyoid bone is present in many mammals. It allows a wide range of tongue, pharyngeal and laryngeal movements by bracing these structures alongside each other in order to produce variation. [47] It is now realised that its lowered position is not unique to Homo sapiens, while its relevance to vocal flexibility may have been overstated: although men have a lower larynx, they do not produce a wider range of sounds than women or two-year-old babies. There is no evidence that the larynx position of the Neanderthals impeded the range of vowel sounds they could produce. [48] The discovery of a modern-looking hyoid bone of a Neanderthal man in the Kebara Cave in Israel led its discoverers to argue that the Neanderthals had a descended larynx, and thus human-like speech capabilities. [49] [50] However, other researchers have claimed that the morphology of the hyoid is not indicative of the larynx's position. [9] It is necessary to take into consideration the skull base, the mandible and the cervical vertebrae and a cranial reference plane. [51] [52]

The morphology of the outer and middle ear of Middle Pleistocene hominins from Atapuerca SH in Spain, believed to be proto-Neanderthal, suggests they had an auditory sensitivity similar to modern humans and very different from chimpanzees. They were probably able to differentiate between many different speech sounds. [53]

Hypoglossal canal Edit

The hypoglossal nerve plays an important role in controlling movements of the tongue. In 1998, one research team used the size of the hypoglossal canal in the base of fossil skulls in an attempt to estimate the relative number of nerve fibres, claiming on this basis that Middle Pleistocene hominins and Neanderthals had more fine-tuned tongue control than either australopithecines or apes. [54] Subsequently, however, it was demonstrated that hypoglossal canal size and nerve sizes are not correlated, [55] and it is now accepted that such evidence is uninformative about the timing of human speech evolution. [56]

Distinctive features theory Edit

According to one influential school, [57] [58] the human vocal apparatus is intrinsically digital on the model of a keyboard or digital computer. If so, this is remarkable: nothing about a chimpanzee's vocal apparatus suggests a digital keyboard, notwithstanding the anatomical and physiological similarities. This poses the question as to when and how, during the course of human evolution, the transition from analog to digital structure and function occurred.

The human supralaryngeal tract is said to be digital in the sense that it is an arrangement of moveable toggles or switches, each of which, at any one time, must be in one state or another. The vocal cords, for example, are either vibrating (producing a sound) or not vibrating (in silent mode). By virtue of simple physics, the corresponding distinctive feature — in this case, "voicing" — cannot be somewhere in between. The options are limited to "off" and "on". Equally digital is the feature known as "nasalisation". At any given moment the soft palate or velum either allows or doesn't allow sound to resonate in the nasal chamber. In the case of lip and tongue positions, more than two digital states may be allowed.

The theory that speech sounds are composite entities constituted by complexes of binary phonetic features was first advanced in 1938 by the Russian linguist Roman Jakobson. [59] A prominent early supporter of this approach was Noam Chomsky, who went on to extend it from phonology to language more generally, in particular to the study of syntax and semantics. [60] [61] [62] In his 1965 book, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, [63] Chomsky treated semantic concepts as combinations of binary-digital atomic elements explicitly on the model of distinctive features theory. The lexical item "bachelor", on this basis, would be expressed as [+ Human], [+ Male], [- Married].

Supporters of this approach view the vowels and consonants recognized by speakers of a particular language or dialect at a particular time as cultural entities of little scientific interest. From a natural science standpoint, the units which matter are those common to Homo sapiens by virtue of our biological nature. By combining the atomic elements or "features" with which all humans are innately equipped, anyone may in principle generate the entire range of vowels and consonants to be found in any of the world's languages, whether past, present or future. The distinctive features are in this sense atomic components of a universal language.

Voicing contrast in English fricatives
Articulation Voiceless Voiced
Pronounced with the lower lip against the teeth: [f] (fan) [v] (van)
Pronounced with the tongue against the teeth: [θ] (thin, thigh) [ð] (then, thy)
Pronounced with the tongue near the gums: [s] (sip) [z] (zip)
Pronounced with the tongue bunched up: [ʃ] (pressure) [ʒ] (pleasure)

Criticism Edit

In recent years, the notion of an innate "universal grammar" underlying phonological variation has been called into question. The most comprehensive monograph ever written about speech sounds, Sounds of the World's Languages, by Peter Ladefoged and Ian Maddieson, [28] found virtually no basis for the postulation of some small number of fixed, discrete, universal phonetic features. Examining 305 languages, for example, they encountered vowels that were positioned basically everywhere along the articulatory and acoustic continuum. Ladefoged concludes that phonological features are not determined by human nature: "Phonological features are best regarded as artifacts that linguists have devised in order to describe linguistic systems." [64] The controversy remains unresolved.

Self-organization theory Edit

Self-organization characterizes systems where macroscopic structures are spontaneously formed out of local interactions between the many components of the system. [65] In self-organized systems, global organizational properties are not to be found at the local level. In colloquial terms, self-organization is roughly captured by the idea of "bottom-up" (as opposed to "top-down") organization. Examples of self-organized systems range from ice crystals to galaxy spirals in the inorganic world, and from spots on the leopard skins to the architecture of termite nests or shape of a flock of starlings.

According to many phoneticians, the sounds of language arrange and re-arrange themselves through self-organization [65] [66] [67] Speech sounds have both perceptual ("how you hear them") and articulatory ("how you produce them") properties, all with continuous values. Speakers tend to minimize effort, favoring ease of articulation over clarity. Listeners do the opposite, favoring sounds that are easy to distinguish even if difficult to pronounce. Since speakers and listeners are constantly switching roles, the syllable systems actually found in the world's languages turn out to be a compromise between acoustic distinctiveness on the one hand, and articulatory ease on the other.

How, precisely, do systems of vowels, consonants and syllables arise? Agent-based computer models take the perspective of self-organisation at the level of the speech community or population. The two main paradigms here are (1) the iterated learning model and (2) the language game model. Iterated learning focuses on transmission from generation to generation, typically with just one agent in each generation. [68] In the language game model, a whole population of agents simultaneously produce, perceive and learn language, inventing novel forms when the need arises. [69] [70]

Several models have shown how relatively simple peer-to-peer vocal interactions, such as imitation, can spontaneously self-organize a system of sounds shared by the whole population, and different in different populations. For example, models elaborated by Berrah et al., [71] as well as de Boer, [72] and recently reformulated using Bayesian theory, [73] showed how a group of individuals playing imitation games can self-organize repertoires of vowel sounds which share substantial properties with human vowel systems. For example, in de Boer's model, initially vowels are generated randomly, but agents learn from each other as they interact repeatedly over time. Agent A chooses a vowel from her repertoire and produces it, inevitably with some noise. Agent B hears this vowel and chooses the closest equivalent from her own repertoire. To check whether this truly matches the original, B produces the vowel she thinks she has heard, whereupon A refers once again to her own repertoire to find the closest equivalent. If this matches the one she initially selected, the game is successful, otherwise, it has failed. "Through repeated interactions," according to de Boer, "vowel systems emerge that are very much like the ones found in human languages." [74]

In a different model, the phonetician Björn Lindblom [75] was able to predict, on self-organizational grounds, the favored choices of vowel systems ranging from three to nine vowels on the basis of a principle of optimal perceptual differentiation.

Further models studied the role of self-organization in the origins of phonemic coding and combinatoriality, which is the existence of phonemes and their systematic reuse to build structured syllables. Pierre-Yves Oudeyer developed models which showed that basic neural equipment for adaptive holistic vocal imitation, coupling directly motor and perceptual representations in the brain, can generate spontaneously shared combinatorial systems of vocalizations, including phonotactic patterns, in a society of babbling individuals. [65] [76] These models also characterized how morphological and physiological innate constraints can interact with these self-organized mechanisms to account for both the formation of statistical regularities and diversity in vocalization systems.

Gestural theory Edit

The gestural theory states that speech was a relatively late development, evolving by degrees from a system that was originally gestural. Our ancestors were unable to control their vocalization at the time when gestures were used to communicate however, as they slowly began to control their vocalizations, spoken language began to evolve.

Three types of evidence support this theory:

  1. Gestural language and vocal language depend on similar neural systems. The regions on the cortex that are responsible for mouth and hand movements border each other.
  2. Nonhuman primates minimize vocal signals in favor of manual, facial and other visible gestures in order to express simple concepts and communicative intentions in the wild. Some of these gestures resemble those of humans, such as the "begging posture", with the hands stretched out, which humans share with chimpanzees. [77]

Research has found strong support for the idea that spoken language and signing depend on similar neural structures. Patients who used sign language, and who suffered from a left-hemisphere lesion, showed the same disorders with their sign language as vocal patients did with their oral language. [78] Other researchers found that the same left-hemisphere brain regions were active during sign language as during the use of vocal or written language. [79]

Humans spontaneously use hand and facial gestures when formulating ideas to be conveyed in speech. [80] [81] There are also, of course, many sign languages in existence, commonly associated with deaf communities as noted above, these are equal in complexity, sophistication, and expressive power, to any oral language. The main difference is that the "phonemes" are produced on the outside of the body, articulated with hands, body, and facial expression, rather than inside the body articulated with tongue, teeth, lips, and breathing.

Many psychologists and scientists have looked into the mirror system in the brain to answer this theory as well as other behavioral theories. Evidence to support mirror neurons as a factor in the evolution of speech includes mirror neurons in primates, the success of teaching apes to communicate gesturally, and pointing/gesturing to teach young children language. Fogassi and Ferrari (2014) monitored motor cortex activity in monkeys, specifically area F5 in the Broca’s area, where mirror neurons are located. They observed changes in electrical activity in this area when the monkey executed or observed different hand actions performed by someone else. Broca’s area is a region in the frontal lobe responsible for language production and processing. The discovery of mirror neurons in this region, which fire when an action is done or observed specifically with the hand, strongly supports the belief that communication was once accomplished with gestures. The same is true when teaching young children language. When one points at a specific object or location, mirror neurons in the child fire as though they were doing the action, which results in long term learning [82]

Criticism Edit

Critics note that for mammals in general, sound turns out to be the best medium in which to encode information for transmission over distances at speed. Given the probability that this applied also to early humans, it's hard to see why they should have abandoned this efficient method in favor of more costly and cumbersome systems of visual gesturing — only to return to sound at a later stage. [83]

By way of explanation, it has been proposed that at a relatively late stage in human evolution, our ancestors' hands became so much in demand for making and using tools that the competing demands of manual gesturing became a hindrance. The transition to spoken language is said to have occurred only at that point. [84] Since humans throughout evolution have been making and using tools, however, most scholars remain unconvinced by this argument. (For a different approach to this puzzle — one setting out from considerations of signal reliability and trust — see "from pantomime to speech" below).

Little is known about the timing of language's emergence in the human species. Unlike writing, speech leaves no material trace, making it archaeologically invisible. Lacking direct linguistic evidence, specialists in human origins have resorted to the study of anatomical features and genes arguably associated with speech production. While such studies may provide information as to whether pre-modern Homo species had speech capacities, it is still unknown whether they actually spoke. While they may have communicated vocally, the anatomical and genetic data lack the resolution necessary to differentiate proto-language from speech.

Using statistical methods to estimate the time required to achieve the current spread and diversity in modern languages today, Johanna Nichols — a linguist at the University of California, Berkeley — argued in 1998 that vocal languages must have begun diversifying in our species at least 100,000 years ago. [85]

More recently — in 2012 — anthropologists Charles Perreault and Sarah Mathew used phonemic diversity to suggest a date consistent with this. [86] "Phonemic diversity" denotes the number of perceptually distinct units of sound — consonants, vowels and tones — in a language. The current worldwide pattern of phonemic diversity potentially contains the statistical signal of the expansion of modern Homo sapiens out of Africa, beginning around 60-70 thousand years ago. Some scholars argue that phonemic diversity evolves slowly and can be used as a clock to calculate how long the oldest African languages would have to have been around in order to accumulate the number of phonemes they possess today. As human populations left Africa and expanded into the rest of the world, they underwent a series of bottlenecks — points at which only a very small population survived to colonise a new continent or region. Allegedly such a population crash led to a corresponding reduction in genetic, phenotypic and phonemic diversity. African languages today have some of the largest phonemic inventories in the world, while the smallest inventories are found in South America and Oceania, some of the last regions of the globe to be colonized. For example, Rotokas, a language of New Guinea, and Pirahã, spoken in South America, both have just 11 phonemes, [87] [88] while !Xun, a language spoken in Southern Africa has 141 phonemes. The authors use a natural experiment — the colonization of mainland Southeast Asia on the one hand, the long-isolated Andaman Islands on the other — to estimate the rate at which phonemic diversity increases through time. Using this rate, they estimate that the world's languages date back to the Middle Stone Age in Africa, sometime between 350 thousand and 150 thousand years ago. This corresponds to the speciation event which gave rise to Homo sapiens.

These and similar studies have however been criticized by linguists who argue that they are based on a flawed analogy between genes and phonemes, since phonemes are frequently transferred laterally between languages unlike genes, and on a flawed sampling of the world's languages, since both Oceania and the Americas also contain languages with very high numbers of phonemes, and Africa contains languages with very few. They argue that the actual distribution of phonemic diversity in the world reflects recent language contact and not deep language history - since it is well demonstrated that languages can lose or gain many phonemes over very short periods. In other words, there is no valid linguistic reason to expect genetic founder effects to influence phonemic diversity. [89] [90]

Early speculations Edit

"I cannot doubt that language owes its origin to the imitation and modification, aided by signs and gestures, of various natural sounds, the voices of other animals, and man's own instinctive cries."

In 1861, historical linguist Max Müller published a list of speculative theories concerning the origins of spoken language: [92] These theories have been grouped under the category named invention hypotheses. These hypotheses were all meant to understand how the first language could have developed and postulate that human mimicry of natural sounds were how the first words with meaning were derived.

  • Bow-wow. The bow-wow or cuckoo theory, which Müller attributed to the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, saw early words as imitations of the cries of beasts and birds. This theory, believed to be derived from onomatopoeia, relates the meaning of the sound to the actual sound formulated by the speaker.
  • Pooh-pooh. The Pooh-Pooh theory saw the first words as emotional interjections and exclamations triggered by pain, pleasure, surprise and so on. These sounds were all produced on sudden intakes of breath, which is unlike any other language. Unlike emotional reactions, spoken language is produced on the exhale, so the sounds contained in this form of communication are unlike those used in normal speech production, which makes this theory a less plausible one for language acquisition. [29]
  • Ding-dong. Müller suggested what he called the Ding-Dong theory, which states that all things have a vibrating natural resonance, echoed somehow by man in his earliest words. Words are derived from the sound associated with their meaning for example, “crash became a word for thunder, boom for explosion.” This theory also heavily relies on the concept of onomatopoeia.
  • Yo-he-ho. The yo-he-ho theory saw language emerging out of collective rhythmic labor, the attempt to synchronize muscular effort resulting in sounds such as heave alternating with sounds such as ho. Believed to be derived from the basis of human collaborative efforts, this theory states that humans needed words, which might have started off as chanting, to communicate. This need could have been to ward off predators, or served as a unifying battle cry.
  • Ta-ta. This did not feature in Max Müller's list, having been proposed in 1930 by Sir Richard Paget. [93] According to the ta-ta theory, humans made the earliest words by tongue movements that mimicked manual gestures, rendering them audible.

A common concept of onomatopoeia as the first source of words is present however, there is a glaring problem with this theory. Onomatopoeia can explain the first couple of words all derived from natural phenomenon, but there is no explanation as to how more complex words without a natural counterpart came to be. [94] Most scholars today consider all such theories not so much wrong — they occasionally offer peripheral insights — as comically naïve and irrelevant. [95] [96] The problem with these theories is that they are so narrowly mechanistic. They assume that once our ancestors had stumbled upon the appropriate ingenious mechanism for linking sounds with meanings, language automatically evolved and changed.

Problems of reliability and deception Edit

From the perspective of modern science, the main obstacle to the evolution of speech-like communication in nature is not a mechanistic one. Rather, it is that symbols — arbitrary associations of sounds with corresponding meanings — are unreliable and may well be false. [97] As the saying goes, "words are cheap". [98] The problem of reliability was not recognised at all by Darwin, Müller or the other early evolutionist theorists.

Animal vocal signals are for the most part intrinsically reliable. When a cat purrs, the signal constitutes direct evidence of the animal's contented state. One can "trust" the signal not because the cat is inclined to be honest, but because it just can't fake that sound. Primate vocal calls may be slightly more manipulable, [99] but they remain reliable for the same reason — because they are hard to fake. [19] Primate social intelligence is Machiavellian — self-serving and unconstrained by moral scruples. Monkeys and apes often attempt to deceive one another, while at the same time remaining constantly on guard against falling victim to deception themselves. [100] Paradoxically, it is precisely primates' resistance to deception that blocks the evolution of their vocal communication systems along language-like lines. Language is ruled out because the best way to guard against being deceived is to ignore all signals except those that are instantly verifiable. Words automatically fail this test. [101]

Words are easy to fake. Should they turn out to be lies, listeners will adapt by ignoring them in favor of hard-to-fake indices or cues. For language to work, then, listeners must be confident that those with whom they are on speaking terms are generally likely to be honest. [102] A peculiar feature of language is "displaced reference", which means reference to topics outside the currently perceptible situation. This property prevents utterances from being corroborated in the immediate "here" and "now". For this reason, language presupposes relatively high levels of mutual trust in order to become established over time as an evolutionarily stable strategy. A theory of the origins of language must, therefore, explain why humans could begin trusting cheap signals in ways that other animals apparently cannot (see signalling theory).

"Kin selection" Edit

The "mother tongues" hypothesis was proposed in 2004 as a possible solution to this problem. [103] W. Tecumseh Fitch suggested that the Darwinian principle of "kin selection" [104] [105] — the convergence of genetic interests between relatives — might be part of the answer. Fitch suggests that spoken languages were originally "mother tongues". If speech evolved initially for communication between mothers and their own biological offspring, extending later to include adult relatives as well, the interests of speakers and listeners would have tended to coincide. Fitch argues that shared genetic interests would have led to sufficient trust and cooperation for intrinsically unreliable vocal signals — spoken words — to become accepted as trustworthy and so begin evolving for the first time.

Criticism Edit

Critics of this theory point out that kin selection is not unique to humans. Ape mothers also share genes with their offspring, as do all animals, so why is it only humans who speak? Furthermore, it is difficult to believe that early humans restricted linguistic communication to genetic kin: the incest taboo must have forced men and women to interact and communicate with non-kin. So even if we accept Fitch's initial premises, the extension of the posited "mother tongue" networks from relatives to non-relatives remains unexplained. [106]

"Reciprocal altruism" Edit

Ib Ulbæk [107] invokes another standard Darwinian principle — "reciprocal altruism" [108] — to explain the unusually high levels of intentional honesty necessary for language to evolve. 'Reciprocal altruism' can be expressed as the principle that if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. In linguistic terms, it would mean that if you speak truthfully to me, I'll speak truthfully to you. Ordinary Darwinian reciprocal altruism, Ulbæk points out, is a relationship established between frequently interacting individuals. For language to prevail across an entire community, however, the necessary reciprocity would have needed to be enforced universally instead of being left to individual choice. Ulbæk concludes that for language to evolve, early society as a whole must have been subject to moral regulation.

Criticism Edit

Critics point out that this theory fails to explain when, how, why or by whom "obligatory reciprocal altruism" could possibly have been enforced. Various proposals have been offered to remedy this defect. [109] A further criticism is that language doesn't work on the basis of reciprocal altruism anyway. Humans in conversational groups don't withhold information to all except listeners likely to offer valuable information in return. On the contrary, they seem to want to advertise to the world their access to socially relevant information, broadcasting it to anyone who will listen without thought of return. [110]

"Gossip and grooming" Edit

Gossip, according to Robin Dunbar, does for group-living humans what manual grooming does for other primates — it allows individuals to service their relationships and so maintain their alliances. As humans began living in larger and larger social groups, the task of manually grooming all one's friends and acquaintances became so time-consuming as to be unaffordable. In response to this problem, humans invented "a cheap and ultra-efficient form of grooming" — vocal grooming. To keep your allies happy, you now needed only to "groom" them with low-cost vocal sounds, servicing multiple allies simultaneously while keeping both hands free for other tasks. Vocal grooming (the production of pleasing sounds lacking syntax or combinatorial semantics) then evolved somehow into syntactical speech. [111]

Criticism Edit

Critics of this theory point out that the very efficiency of "vocal grooming" — that words are so cheap — would have undermined its capacity to signal commitment of the kind conveyed by time-consuming and costly manual grooming. [102] A further criticism is that the theory does nothing to explain the crucial transition from vocal grooming — the production of pleasing but meaningless sounds — to the cognitive complexities of syntactical speech.

From pantomime to speech Edit

According to another school of thought, language evolved from mimesis — the "acting out" of scenarios using vocal and gestural pantomime. [112] [113] [114] Charles Darwin, who himself was skeptical, hypothesized that human speech and language is derived from gestures and mouth pantomime. [94] This theory, further elaborated on by various authors, postulates that the genus Homo, different from our ape ancestors, evolved a new type of cognition. Apes are capable of associational learning. They can tie a sensory cue to a motor response often trained through classical conditioning. [115] However, in apes, the conditioned sensory cue is necessary for a conditioned response to be observed again. The motor response will not occur without an external cue from an outside agent. A remarkable ability that humans possess is the ability to voluntarily retrieve memories without the need for a cue (e.g. conditioned stimulus). This is not an ability that has been observed in animals except language-trained apes. There is still much controversy on whether pantomime is a capability for apes, both wild and captured. [116] For as long as utterances needed to be emotionally expressive and convincing, it was not possible to complete the transition to purely conventional signs. [97] [117] [118] On this assumption, pre-linguistic gestures and vocalisations would have been required not just to disambiguate intended meanings, but also to inspire confidence in their intrinsic reliability. [98] If contractual commitments [109] [119] were necessary in order to inspire community-wide trust in communicative intentions, it would follow that these had to be in place before humans could shift at last to an ultra-efficient, high-speed — digital as opposed to analog — signalling format. Vocal distinctive features (sound contrasts) are ideal for this purpose. It is therefore suggested that the establishment of contractual understandings enabled the decisive transition from mimetic gesture to fully conventionalised, digitally encoded speech. [101] [120] [121]

"Ritual/speech coevolution" Edit

The ritual/speech coevolution theory was originally proposed by the distinguished social anthropologist Roy Rappaport [122] before being elaborated by anthropologists such as Chris Knight, [101] Jerome Lewis, [114] Nick Enfield, [123] Camilla Power [102] and Ian Watts. [124] Cognitive scientist and robotics engineer Luc Steels [125] is another prominent supporter of this general approach, as is biological anthropologist/neuroscientist Terrence Deacon. [126]

These scholars argue that there can be no such thing as a "theory of the origins of language". This is because language is not a separate adaptation but an internal aspect of something much wider — namely, human symbolic culture as a whole. [127] Attempts to explain language independently of this wider context have spectacularly failed, say these scientists, because they are addressing a problem with no solution. Can we imagine a historian attempting to explain the emergence of credit cards independently of the wider system of which they are a part? Using a credit card makes sense only if you have a bank account institutionally recognized within a certain kind of advanced capitalist society — one where communications technology has already been invented and fraud can be detected and prevented. In much the same way, language would not work outside a specific array of social mechanisms and institutions. For example, it would not work for an ape communicating with other apes in the wild. Not even the cleverest ape could make language work under such conditions.

"Lie and alternative, inherent in language, . pose problems to any society whose structure is founded on language, which is to say all human societies. I have therefore argued that if there are to be words at all it is necessary to establish The Word, and that The Word is established by the invariance of liturgy." [128]

Advocates of this school of thought point out that words are cheap. As digital hallucinations, they are intrinsically unreliable. Should an especially clever ape, or even a group of articulate apes, try to use words in the wild, they would carry no conviction. The primate vocalizations that do carry conviction — those they actually use — are unlike words, in that they are emotionally expressive, intrinsically meaningful and reliable because they are relatively costly and hard to fake.

Speech consists of digital contrasts whose cost is essentially zero. As pure social conventions, signals of this kind cannot evolve in a Darwinian social world — they are a theoretical impossibility. [97] Being intrinsically unreliable, language works only if you can build up a reputation for trustworthiness within a certain kind of society — namely, one where symbolic cultural facts (sometimes called "institutional facts") can be established and maintained through collective social endorsement. [129] In any hunter-gatherer society, the basic mechanism for establishing trust in symbolic cultural facts is collective ritual. [130] Therefore, the task facing researchers into the origins of language is more multidisciplinary than is usually supposed. It involves addressing the evolutionary emergence of human symbolic culture as a whole, with language an important but subsidiary component. [131]

Criticism Edit

Critics of the theory include Noam Chomsky, who terms it the "non-existence" hypothesis — a denial of the very existence of language as an object of study for natural science. [132] Chomsky's own theory is that language emerged in an instant and in perfect form, [133] prompting his critics in turn to retort that only something that doesn't exist — a theoretical construct or convenient scientific fiction — could possibly emerge in such a miraculous way. [121] The controversy remains unresolved.

Twentieth century speculations Edit

Festal origins Edit

The essay "The festal origin of human speech", though published in the late nineteenth century, [134] made little impact until the American philosopher Susanne Langer re-discovered and publicised it in 1941. [135]

"In the early history of articulate sounds they could make no meaning themselves, but they preserved and got intimately associated with the peculiar feelings and perceptions that came most prominently into the minds of the festal players during their excitement."

The theory sets out from the observation that primate vocal sounds are above all emotionally expressive. The emotions aroused are socially contagious. Because of this, an extended bout of screams, hoots or barks will tend to express not just the feelings of this or that individual but the mutually contagious ups and downs of everyone within earshot.

Turning to the ancestors of Homo sapiens, the "festal origin" theory suggests that in the "play-excitement" preceding or following a communal hunt or other group activity, everyone might have combined their voices in a comparable way, emphasizing their mood of togetherness with such noises as rhythmic drumming and hand-clapping. Variably pitched voices would have formed conventional patterns, such that choral singing became an integral part of communal celebration.

Although this was not yet speech, according to Langer, it developed the vocal capacities from which speech would later derive. There would be conventional modes of ululating, clapping or dancing appropriate to different festive occasions, each so intimately associated with that kind of occasion that it would tend to collectively uphold and embody the concept of it. Anyone hearing a snatch of sound from such a song would recall the associated occasion and mood. A melodic, rhythmic sequence of syllables conventionally associated with a certain type of celebration would become, in effect, its vocal mark. On that basis, certain familiar sound sequences would become "symbolic".

In support of all this, Langer cites ethnographic reports of tribal songs consisting entirely of "rhythmic nonsense syllables". She concedes that an English equivalent such as "hey-nonny-nonny", although perhaps suggestive of certain feelings or ideas, is neither noun, verb, adjective, nor any other syntactical part of speech. So long as articulate sound served only in the capacity of "hey nonny-nonny", "hallelujah" or "alack-a-day", it cannot yet have been speech. For that to arise, according to Langer, it was necessary for such sequences to be emitted increasingly out of context — outside the total situation that gave rise to them. Extending a set of associations from one cognitive context to another, completely different one, is the secret of metaphor. Langer invokes an early version of what is nowadays termed "grammaticalization" theory to show how, from, such a point of departure, syntactically complex speech might progressively have arisen.

Langer acknowledges Emile Durkheim as having proposed a strikingly similar theory back in 1912. [136] For recent thinking along broadly similar lines, see Steven Brown on "musilanguage", [137] Chris Knight on "ritual" [101] and "play", [120] [138] Jerome Lewis on "mimicry", [114] [131] Steven Mithen on "Hmmmmm" [139] Bruce Richman on "nonsense syllables" [140] and Alison Wray on "holistic protolanguage". [141]

Mirror neuron hypothesis (MSH) and the Motor Theory of Speech Perception

The mirror neuron hypothesis, based on a phenomenon discovered in 2008 by Rizzolatti and Fabbri, supports the motor theory of speech perception. The motor theory of speech perception was proposed in 1967 by Liberman, who believed that the motor system and language systems were closely interlinked. [142] This would result in a more streamlined process of generating speech both the cognition and speech formulation could occur simultaneously. Essentially, it is wasteful to have a speech decoding and speech encoding process independent of each other. This hypothesis was further supported by the discovery of motor neurons. Rizzolatti and Fabbri found that there were specific neurons in the motor cortex of macaque monkeys which were activated when seeing an action. [143] The neurons which are activated are the same neurons in which would be required to perform the same action themselves. Mirror neurons fire when observing an action and performing an action, indicating that these neurons found in the motor cortex are necessary for understanding a visual process. [143] The presence of mirror neurons may indicate that non-verbal, gestural communication is far more ancient than previously thought to be. Motor theory of speech perception relies on the understanding of motor representations that underlie speech gestures, such as lip movement. There is no clear understanding of speech perception currently, but it is generally accepted that the motor cortex is activated in speech perception to some capacity.

"Musilanguage" Edit

The term "musilanguage" (or "hmmmmm") refers to a pre-linguistic system of vocal communication from which (according to some scholars) both music and language later derived. The idea is that rhythmic, melodic, emotionally expressive vocal ritual helped bond coalitions and, over time, set up selection pressures for enhanced volitional control over the speech articulators. Patterns of synchronized choral chanting are imagined to have varied according to the occasion. For example, "we're setting off to find honey" might sound qualitatively different from "we're setting off to hunt" or "we're grieving over our relative's death". If social standing depended on maintaining a regular beat and harmonizing one's own voice with that of everyone else, group members would have come under pressure to demonstrate their choral skills.

Archaeologist Steven Mithen speculates that the Neanderthals possessed some such system, expressing themselves in a "language" known as "Hmmmmm", standing for Holistic, manipulative, multi-modal, musical and mimetic. [139] p. 169-175 In Bruce Richman's earlier version of essentially the same idea, [140] frequent repetition of the same few songs by many voices made it easy for people to remember those sequences as whole units. Activities that a group of people were doing while they were vocalizing together — activities that were important or striking or richly emotional — came to be associated with particular sound sequences, so that each time a fragment was heard, it evoked highly specific memories. The idea is that the earliest lexical items (words) started out as abbreviated fragments of what were originally communal songs.

"Whenever people sang or chanted a particular sound sequence they would remember the concrete particulars of the situation most strongly associated with it: ah, yes! we sing this during this particular ritual admitting new members to the group or, we chant this during a long journey in the forest or, when a clearing is finished for a new camp, this is what we chant or these are the keenings we sing during ceremonies over dead members of our group."

As group members accumulated an expanding repertoire of songs for different occasions, interpersonal call-and-response patterns evolved along one trajectory to assume linguistic form. Meanwhile, along a divergent trajectory, polyphonic singing and other kinds of music became increasingly specialized and sophisticated.

To explain the establishment of syntactical speech, Richman cites English "I wanna go home". He imagines this to have been learned in the first instance not as a combinatorial sequence of free-standing words, but as a single stuck-together combination — the melodic sound people make to express "feeling homesick". Someone might sing "I wanna go home", prompting other voices to chime in with "I need to go home", "I'd love to go home", "Let's go home" and so forth. Note that one part of the song remains constant, while another is permitted to vary. If this theory is accepted, syntactically complex speech began evolving as each chanted mantra allowed for variation at a certain point, allowing for the insertion of an element from some other song. For example, while mourning during a funeral rite, someone might want to recall a memory of collecting honey with the deceased, signaling this at an appropriate moment with a fragment of the "we're collecting honey" song. Imagine that such practices became common. Meaning-laden utterances would now have become subject to a distinctively linguistic creative principle — that of recursive embedding.

Hunter-gatherer egalitarianism Edit

Many scholars associate the evolutionary emergence of speech with profound social, sexual, political and cultural developments. One view is that primate-style dominance needed to give way to a more cooperative and egalitarian lifestyle of the kind characteristic of modern hunter-gatherers. [144] [145] [131]

Intersubjectivity Edit

According to Michael Tomasello, the key cognitive capacity distinguishing Homo sapiens from our ape cousins is "intersubjectivity". This entails turn-taking and role-reversal: your partner strives to read your mind, you simultaneously strive to read theirs, and each of you makes a conscious effort to assist the other in the process. The outcome is that each partner forms a representation of the other's mind in which their own can be discerned by reflection.

Tomasello argues that this kind of bi-directional cognition is central to the very possibility of linguistic communication. Drawing on his research with both children and chimpanzees, he reports that human infants, from one year old onwards, begin viewing their own mind as if from the standpoint of others. He describes this as a cognitive revolution. Chimpanzees, as they grow up, never undergo such a revolution. The explanation, according to Tomasello, is that their evolved psychology is adapted to a deeply competitive way of life. Wild-living chimpanzees from despotic social hierarchies, most interactions involving calculations of dominance and submission. An adult chimp will strive to outwit its rivals by guessing at their intentions while blocking them from reciprocating. Since bi-directional intersubjective communication is impossible under such conditions, the cognitive capacities necessary for language don't evolve. [146] [147] [148]

Counter-dominance Edit

In the scenario favoured by David Erdal and Andrew Whiten, [149] [150] primate-style dominance provoked equal and opposite coalitionary resistance — counter-dominance. During the course of human evolution, increasingly effective strategies of rebellion against dominant individuals led to a compromise. While abandoning any attempt to dominate others, group members vigorously asserted their personal autonomy, maintaining their alliances to make potentially dominant individuals think twice. Within increasingly stable coalitions, according to this perspective, status began to be earned in novel ways, social rewards accruing to those perceived by their peers as especially cooperative and self-aware. [144]

Reverse dominance Edit

While counter-dominance, according to this evolutionary narrative, culminates in a stalemate, anthropologist Christopher Boehm [151] [152] extends the logic a step further. Counter-dominance tips over at last into full-scale "reverse dominance". The rebellious coalition decisively overthrows the figure of the primate alpha-male. No dominance is allowed except that of the self-organized community as a whole.

As a result of this social and political change, hunter-gatherer egalitarianism is established. As children grow up, they are motivated by those around them to reverse perspective, engaging with other minds on the model of their own. Selection pressures favor such psychological innovations as imaginative empathy, joint attention, moral judgment, project-oriented collaboration and the ability to evaluate one's own behavior from the standpoint of others. Underpinning enhanced probabilities of cultural transmission and cumulative cultural evolution, these developments culminated in the establishment of hunter-gatherer-style egalitarianism in association with intersubjective communication and cognition. It is in this social and political context that language evolves. [131]

Scenarios involving mother-infant interactions Edit

"Putting the baby down" Edit

According to Dean Falk's "putting the baby down" theory, vocal interactions between early hominin mothers and infants sparked a sequence of events that led, eventually, to our ancestors' earliest words. [153] The basic idea is that evolving human mothers, unlike their monkey and ape counterparts, couldn't move around and forage with their infants clinging onto their backs. Loss of fur in the human case left infants with no means of clinging on. Frequently, therefore, mothers had to put their babies down. As a result, these babies needed reassurance that they were not being abandoned. Mothers responded by developing "motherese" — an infant-directed communicative system embracing facial expressions, body language, touching, patting, caressing, laughter, tickling and emotionally expressive contact calls. The argument is that language somehow developed out of all this.

While this theory may explain a certain kind of infant-directed "protolanguage" — known today as "motherese" — it does little to solve the really difficult problem, which is the emergence among adults of syntactical speech. [ citation needed ]

Co-operative breeding Edit

Evolutionary anthropologist Sarah Hrdy [154] observes that only human mothers among great apes are willing to let another individual take hold of their own babies further, we are routinely willing to let others babysit. She identifies lack of trust as the major factor preventing chimp, bonobo or gorilla mothers from doing the same: "If ape mothers insist on carrying their babies everywhere . it is because the available alternatives are not safe enough." The fundamental problem is that ape mothers (unlike monkey mothers who may often babysit) do not have female relatives nearby. The strong implication is that, in the course of Homo evolution, allocare could develop because Homo mothers did have female kin close by — in the first place, most reliably, their own mothers. Extending the Grandmother hypothesis, [155] Hrdy argues that evolving Homo erectus females necessarily relied on female kin initially this novel situation in ape evolution of mother, infant and mother's mother as allocarer provided the evolutionary ground for the emergence of intersubjectivity. She relates this onset of "cooperative breeding in an ape" to shifts in life history and slower child development, linked to the change in brain and body size from the 2 million year mark.

Primatologist Klaus Zuberbühler [156] uses these ideas to help explain the emergence of vocal flexibility in the human species. Co-operative breeding would have compelled infants to struggle actively to gain the attention of caregivers, not all of whom would have been directly related. A basic primate repertoire of vocal signals may have been insufficient for this social challenge. Natural selection, according to this view, would have favored babies with advanced vocal skills, beginning with babbling (which triggers positive responses in care-givers) and paving the way for the elaborate and unique speech abilities of modern humans.

Was "mama" the first word? Edit

These ideas might be linked to those of the renowned structural linguist Roman Jakobson, who claimed that "the sucking activities of the child are accompanied by a slight nasal murmur, the only phonation to be produced when the lips are pressed to the mother's breast . and the mouth is full". [157] He proposed that later in the infant's development, "this phonatory reaction to nursing is reproduced as an anticipatory signal at the mere sight of food and finally as a manifestation of a desire to eat, or more generally, as an expression of discontent and impatient longing for missing food or absent nurser, and any ungranted wish." So, the action of opening and shutting the mouth, combined with the production of a nasal sound when the lips are closed, yielded the sound sequence "Mama", which may, therefore, count as the very first word. Peter MacNeilage sympathetically discusses this theory in his major book, The Origin of Speech, linking it with Dean Falk's "putting the baby down" theory (see above). [158] Needless to say, other scholars have suggested completely different candidates for Homo sapiens' very first word. [159]

Niche construction theory Edit

While the biological language faculty is genetically inherited, actual languages or dialects are culturally transmitted, as are social norms, technological traditions and so forth. Biologists expect a robust co-evolutionary trajectory linking human genetic evolution with the evolution of culture. [160] Individuals capable of rudimentary forms of protolanguage would have enjoyed enhanced access to cultural understandings, while these, conveyed in ways that young brains could readily learn, would, in turn, have become transmitted with increasing efficiency.

In some ways like beavers, as they construct their dams, humans have always engaged in niche construction, creating novel environments to which they subsequently become adapted. Selection pressures associated with prior niches tend to become relaxed as humans depend increasingly on novel environments created continuously by their own productive activities. [161] [162] According to Steven Pinker, [163] language is an adaptation to "the cognitive niche". Variations on the theme of ritual/speech co-evolution — according to which speech evolved for purposes of internal communication within a ritually constructed domain — have attempted to specify more precisely when, why and how this special niche was created by human collaborative activity. [101] [122] [126]

Structuralism Edit

"Consider a knight in chess. Is the piece by itself an element of the game? Certainly not. For as a material object, separated from its square on the board and the other conditions of play, it is of no significance for the player. It becomes a real, concrete element only when it takes on or becomes identified with its value in the game. Suppose that during a game this piece gets destroyed or lost. Can it be replaced? Of course, it can. Not only by some other knight but even by an object of quite a different shape, which can be counted as a knight, provided it is assigned the same value as the missing piece."

The Swiss scholar Ferdinand de Saussure founded linguistics as a twentieth-century professional discipline. Saussure regarded a language as a rule-governed system, much like a board game such as chess. In order to understand chess, he insisted, we must ignore such external factors as the weather prevailing during a particular session or the material composition of this or that piece. The game is autonomous with respect to its material embodiments. In the same way, when studying language, it's essential to focus on its internal structure as a social institution. External matters (e.g., the shape of the human tongue) are irrelevant from this standpoint. Saussure regarded 'speaking' (parole) as individual, ancillary and more or less accidental by comparison with "language" (langue), which he viewed as collective, systematic and essential.

Saussure showed little interest in Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. Nor did he consider it worthwhile to speculate about how language might originally have evolved. Saussure's assumptions in fact cast doubt on the validity of narrowly conceived origins scenarios. His structuralist paradigm, when accepted in its original form, turns scholarly attention to a wider problem: how our species acquired the capacity to establish social institutions in general.

Behaviourism Edit

"The basic processes and relations which give verbal behavior its special characteristics are now fairly well understood. Much of the experimental work responsible for this advance has been carried out on other species, but the results have proved to be surprisingly free of species restrictions. Recent work has shown that the methods can be extended to human behavior without serious modification."

In the United States, prior to and immediately following World War II, the dominant psychological paradigm was behaviourism. Within this conceptual framework, language was seen as a certain kind of behaviour — namely, verbal behavior, [164] to be studied much like any other kind of behavior in the animal world. Rather as a laboratory rat learns how to find its way through an artificial maze, so a human child learns the verbal behavior of the society into which it is born. The phonological, grammatical and other complexities of speech are in this sense "external" phenomena, inscribed into an initially unstructured brain. Language's emergence in Homo sapiens, from this perspective, presents no special theoretical challenge. Human behavior, whether verbal or otherwise, illustrates the malleable nature of the mammalian — and especially the human — brain.

Chomskyan Nativism Edit

Nativism is the theory that humans are born with certain specialized cognitive modules enabling us to acquire highly complex bodies of knowledge such as the grammar of a language.

"There is a long history of study of the origin of language, asking how it arose from calls of apes and so forth. That investigation in my view is a complete waste of time because language is based on an entirely different principle than any animal communication system."

From the mid-1950s onwards, Noam Chomsky, [165] [166] Jerry Fodor [167] and others mounted what they conceptualized as a 'revolution' against behaviorism. Retrospectively, this became labelled 'the cognitive revolution'. [168] [169] Whereas behaviorism had denied the scientific validity of the concept of "mind", Chomsky replied that, in fact, the concept of "body" is more problematic. [170] Behaviourists tended to view the child's brain as a tabula rasa, initially lacking structure or cognitive content. According to B. F. Skinner, for example, richness of behavioral detail (whether verbal or non-verbal) emanated from the environment. Chomsky turned this idea on its head. The linguistic environment encountered by a young child, according to Chomsky's version of psychological nativism, is in fact hopelessly inadequate. No child could possibly acquire the complexities of grammar from such an impoverished source. [171] Far from viewing language as wholly external, Chomsky re-conceptualized it as wholly internal. To explain how a child so rapidly and effortlessly acquires its natal language, he insisted, we must conclude that it comes into the world with the essentials of grammar already pre-installed. [172] No other species, according to Chomsky, is genetically equipped with a language faculty — or indeed with anything remotely like one. [173] The emergence of such a faculty in Homo sapiens, from this standpoint, presents biological science with a major theoretical challenge.

Speech act theory Edit

One way to explain biological complexity is by reference to its inferred function. According to the influential philosopher John Austin, [174] speech's primary function is active in the social world.

Speech acts, according to this body of theory, can be analyzed on three different levels: elocutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary. An act is locutionary when viewed as the production of certain linguistic sounds — for example, practicing correct pronunciation in a foreign language. An act is illocutionary insofar as it constitutes an intervention in the world as jointly perceived or understood. Promising, marrying, divorcing, declaring, stating, authorizing, announcing and so forth are all speech acts in this illocutionary sense. An act is perlocutionary when viewed in terms of its direct psychological effect on an audience. Frightening a baby by saying 'Boo!' would be an example of a "perlocutionary" act.

For Austin, "doing things" with words means, first and foremost, deploying illocutionary force. The secret of this is community participation or collusion. There must be a 'correct' (conventionally agreed) procedure, and all those concerned must accept that it has been properly followed.

"One of our examples was, for instance, the utterance 'I do' (take this woman to be my lawful wedded wife), as uttered in the course of a marriage ceremony. Here we should say that in saying these words we are doing something — namely, marrying, rather than reporting something, namely that we are marrying."

In the case of a priest declaring a couple to be man and wife, his words will have illocutionary force only if he is properly authorized and only if the ceremony is properly conducted, using words deemed appropriate to the occasion. Austin points out that should anyone attempt to baptize a penguin, the act would be null and void. For reasons which have nothing to do with physics, chemistry or biology, baptism is inappropriate to be applied to penguins, irrespective of the verbal formulation used. [175]

This body of theory may have implications for speculative scenarios concerning the origins of speech. "Doing things with words" presupposes shared understandings and agreements pertaining not just to language but to social conduct more generally. Apes might produce sequences of structured sound, influencing one another in that way. To deploy illocutionary force, however, they would need to have entered a non-physical and non-biological realm — one of shared contractual and other intangibles. This novel cognitive domain consists of what philosophers term "institutional facts" — objective facts whose existence, paradoxically, depends on communal faith or belief. [129] [176] Few primatologists, evolutionary psychologists or anthropologists consider that nonhuman primates are capable of the necessary levels of joint attention, sustained commitment or collaboration in pursuit of future goals. [146] [148] [177]

Biosemiotics Edit

"the deciphering of the genetic code has revealed our possession of a language much older than hieroglyphics, a language as old as life itself, a language that is the most living language of all — even if its letters are invisible and its words are buried in the cells of our bodies."

Biosemiotics is a relatively new discipline, inspired in large part by the discovery of the genetic code in the early 1960s. Its basic assumption is that Homo sapiens is not alone in its reliance on codes and signs. Language and symbolic culture must have biological roots, hence semiotic principles must apply also in the animal world.

The discovery of the molecular structure of DNA apparently contradicted the idea that life could be explained, ultimately, in terms of the fundamental laws of physics. The letters of the genetic alphabet seemed to have "meaning", yet meaning is not a concept that has any place in physics. The natural science community initially solved this difficulty by invoking the concept of "information", treating information as independent of meaning. But a different solution to the puzzle was to recall that the laws of physics in themselves are never sufficient to explain natural phenomena. To explain, say, the unique physical and chemical characteristics of the planets in our solar system, scientists must work out how the laws of physics became constrained by particular sequences of events following the formation of the Sun.

According to Howard Pattee, the same principle applies to the evolution of life on earth, a process in which certain "frozen accidents" or "natural constraints" have from time to time drastically reduced the number of possible evolutionary outcomes. Codes, when they prove to be stable over evolutionary time, are constraints of this kind. The most fundamental such "frozen accident" was the emergence of DNA as a self-replicating molecule, but the history of life on earth has been characterized by a succession of comparably dramatic events, each of which can be conceptualized as the emergence of a new code. [178] From this perspective, the evolutionary emergence of spoken language was one more event of essentially the same kind. [179] [180] [181]

The Handicap principle Edit

In 1975, the Israeli theoretical biologist Amotz Zahavi [182] [183] [184] proposed a novel theory which, although controversial, has come to dominate Darwinian thinking on how signals evolve. Zahavi's "handicap principle" states that to be effective, signals must be reliable to be reliable, the bodily investment in them must be so high as to make cheating unprofitable.

Paradoxically, if this logic is accepted, signals in nature evolve not to be efficient but, on the contrary, to be elaborate and wasteful of time and energy. A peacock's tail is the classic illustration. Zahavi's theory is that since peahens are on the look-out for male braggarts and cheats, they insist on a display of quality so costly that only a genuinely fit peacock could afford to pay. Needless to say, not all signals in the animal world are quite as elaborate as a peacock's tail. But if Zahavi is correct, all require some bodily investment — an expenditure of time and energy which "handicaps" the signaller in some way.

Animal vocalizations (according to Zahavi) are reliable because they are faithful reflections of the state of the signaller's body. To switch from an honest to a deceitful call, the animal would have to adopt a different bodily posture. Since every bodily action has its own optimal starting position, changing that position to produce a false message would interfere with the task of carrying out the action really intended. The gains made by cheating would not make up for the losses incurred by assuming an improper posture — and so the phony message turns out to be not worth its price. [184] p. 69 This may explain, in particular, why ape and monkey vocal signals have evolved to be so strikingly inflexible when compared with the varied speech sounds produced by the human tongue. The apparent inflexibility of chimpanzee vocalizations may strike the human observer as surprising until we realize that being inflexible is necessarily bound up with being perceptibly honest in the sense of "hard-to-fake".

If we accept this theory, the emergence of speech becomes theoretically impossible. Communication of this kind just cannot evolve. [97] The problem is that words are cheap. Nothing about their acoustic features can reassure listeners that they are genuine and not fakes. Any strategy of reliance on someone else's tongue — perhaps the most flexible organ in the body — presupposes unprecedented levels of honesty and trust. To date, Darwinian thinkers have found it difficult to explain the requisite levels of community-wide cooperation and trust.

An influential standard textbook is Animal Signals, by John Maynard Smith and David Harper. [185] These authors divide the costs of communication into two components, (1) the investment necessary to ensure transmission of a discernible signal (2) the investment necessary to guarantee that each signal is reliable and not a fake. The authors point out that although costs in the second category may be relatively low, they are not zero. Even in relatively relaxed, cooperative social contexts — for example, when communication is occurring between genetic kin — some investment must be made to guarantee reliability. In short, the notion of super-efficient communication — eliminating all costs except those necessary for successful transmission — is biologically unrealistic. Yet speech comes precisely into this category.

The graph shows the different signal intensities as a result of costs and benefits. If two individuals face different costs but have the same benefits, or have different benefits but the same cost, they will signal at different levels. The higher signal represents a more reliable quality. The high-quality individual will maximize costs relative to benefits at a high signal intensities, while the low-quality individual maximizes their benefits relative to cost at low signal intensity. The high-quality individual is shown to take more risks (greater cost), which can be understood in terms of honest signals, which are expensive. The stronger you are, the more easily you can bear the cost of the signal, making you a more appealing mating partner. The low-quality individuals are less likely to be able to afford a specific signal, and will consequently be less likely to attract a female. [186]

Cognitive linguistics Edit

Cognitive linguistics views linguistic structure as arising continuously out of usage. Speakers are forever discovering new ways to convey meanings by producing sounds, and in some cases, these novel strategies become conventionalized. Between the phonological structure and semantic structure, there is no causal relationship. Instead, each novel pairing of sound and meaning involves an imaginative leap.

In their book, Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson helped pioneer this approach, claiming that metaphor is what makes human thought special. All language, they argued, is permeated with metaphor, whose use in fact constitutes distinctively human — that is, distinctively abstract — thought. To conceptualize things which cannot be directly perceived — intangibles such as time, life, reason, mind, society or justice — we have no choice but to set out from more concrete and directly perceptible phenomena such as motion, location, distance, size and so forth. In all cultures across the world, according to Lakoff and Johnson, people resort to such familiar metaphors as ideas are locations, thinking is moving and mind is body. For example, we might express the idea of "arriving at a crucial point in our argument" by proceeding as if literally traveling from one physical location to the next.

Metaphors, by definition, are not literally true. Strictly speaking, they are fictions — from a pedantic standpoint, even falsehoods. But if we couldn't resort to metaphorical fictions, it's doubtful whether we could even form conceptual representations of such nebulous phenomena as "ideas", thoughts", "minds", and so forth.

The bearing of these ideas on current thinking on speech origins remains unclear. One suggestion is that ape communication tends to resist the metaphor for social reasons. Since they inhabit a Darwinian (as opposed to morally regulated) social world, these animals are under strong competitive pressure not to accept patent fictions as valid communicative currency. Ape vocal communication tends to be inflexible, marginalizing the ultra-flexible tongue, precisely because listeners treat with suspicion any signal which might prove to be a fake. Such insistence on perceptible veracity is clearly incompatible with metaphoric usage. An implication is that neither articulate speech nor distinctively human abstract thought could have begun evolving until our ancestors had become more cooperative and trusting of one another's communicative intentions. [121]

Natural science vs social science interpretations Edit

Social reality Edit

When people converse with one another, according to the American philosopher John Searle, they're making moves, not in the real world which other species inhabit, but in a shared virtual realm peculiar to ourselves. Unlike the deployment of muscular effort to move a physical object, the deployment of illocutionary force requires no physical effort (except the movement of the tongue/mouth to produce speech) and produces no effect which any measuring device could detect. Instead, our action takes place on a quite different level — that of social reality. This kind of reality is in one sense hallucinatory, being a product of collective intentionality. It consists, not of "brute facts" — facts which exist anyway, irrespective of anyone's belief — but of "institutional facts", which "exist" only if you believe in them. Government, marriage, citizenship and money are examples of "institutional facts". One can distinguish between "brute" facts and "institutional" ones by applying a simple test. Suppose no one believed in the fact — would it still be true? If the answer is "yes", it's "brute". If the answer is "no", it's "institutional". [129]

"Imagine a group of primitive creatures, more or less like ourselves . Now imagine that acting as a group, they build a barrier, a wall around the place where they live . The wall is designed to keep intruders out and keep members of the group in . Let us suppose that the wall gradually decays. It slowly deteriorates until all that is left is a line of stones. But let us suppose that the inhabitants continue to treat the line of stones as if it could perform the function of the wall. Let us suppose that, as a matter of fact, they treat the line of stones just as if they understood that it was not to be crossed . This shift is the decisive move in the creation of institutional reality. It is nothing less than the decisive move in the creation of what we think of as distinctive in humans, as opposed to animals, societies."

The facts of language in general and of speech, in particular, are, from this perspective, "institutional" rather than "brute". The semantic meaning of a word, for example, is whatever its users imagine it to be. To "do things with words" is to operate in a virtual world which seems real because we share it in common. In this incorporeal world, the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology do not apply. That explains why illocutionary force can be deployed without exerting muscular effort. Apes and monkeys inhabit the "brute" world. To make an impact, they must scream, bark, threaten, seduce or in other ways invest bodily effort. If they were invited to play chess, they would be unable to resist throwing their pieces at one another. Speech is not like that. A few movements of the tongue, under appropriate conditions, can be sufficient to open parliament, annul a marriage, confer a knighthood or declare war. [176] To explain, on a Darwinian basis, how such apparent magic first began to work, we must ask how, when and why Homo sapiens succeeded in establishing the wider domain of institutional facts.

Nature or society? Edit

"Brute facts", in the terminology of speech act philosopher John Searle, [129] are facts which are true anyway, regardless of human belief. Suppose you don't believe in gravity: jump over a cliff and you'll still fall. Natural science is the study of facts of this kind. "Institutional facts" are fictions accorded factual status within human social institutions. Monetary and commercial facts are fictions of this kind. The complexities of today's global currency system are facts only while we believe in them: suspend the belief and the facts correspondingly dissolve. Yet although institutional facts rest on human belief, that doesn't make them mere distortions or hallucinations. Take my confidence that these two five-pound banknotes in my pocket are worth ten pounds. That's not merely my subjective belief: it's an objective, indisputable fact. But now imagine a collapse of public confidence in the currency system. Suddenly, the realities in my pocket dissolve.

Scholars who doubt the scientific validity of the notion of "institutional facts" include Noam Chomsky, for whom language is not social. In Chomsky's view, language is a natural object (a component of the individual brain) and its study, therefore, a branch of natural science. In explaining the origin of language, scholars in this intellectual camp invoke non-social developments — in Chomsky's case, a random genetic mutation. [173] Chomsky argues that language might exist inside the brain of a single mutant gorilla even if no one else believed in it, even if no one else existed apart from the mutant — and even if the gorilla in question remained unaware of its existence, never actually speaking. [187] In the opposite philosophical camp are those who, in the tradition of Ferdinand de Saussure, argue that if no one believed in words or rules, they simply would not exist. These scholars, correspondingly, regard language as essentially institutional, concluding that linguistics should be considered a topic within social science. In explaining the evolutionary emergence of language, scholars in this intellectual camp tend to invoke profound changes in social relationships. [109] [148] [188]

Criticism. Darwinian scientists today see little value in the traditional distinction between "natural" and "social" science. Darwinism in its modern form is the study of cooperation and competition in nature — a topic which is intrinsically social. [189] Against this background, there is an increasing awareness among evolutionary linguists and Darwinian anthropologists that traditional inter-disciplinary barriers can have damaging consequences for investigations into the origins of speech. [190] [191] [192]

What to Do if You See Your Dog Licking Their Lips

The first thing to do if your dog is licking his or her lips is to look at this relative to their behavior and determine if there is an underlying medical problem.

  1. The most important thing is to try to determine if lip-licking behavior is an expression of anxiety. Some dogs can lick their lips when they are nervous, which can escalate to aggression. It is important to be safe and ensure those around you are safe. If your dog is cornered or in an uncomfortable situation, give them some space and back off. If a child or other person is making your dog nervous, remove them from close proximity to your animal. Some behaviorists recommend that you redirect the lip licking behavior by offering a toy. On the other hand, it may be best to avoid giving a dog with this behavior special attention, so as to not reinforce their anxiety or fear.
  2. If your dog is licking their lips during training, it is possible they are worried or confused about the process. Consider giving your dog a task that they clearly understand and when successful, offer a reward. You can also think of other ways to communicate your message or stop for the day. Restart the training another day when your dog is refreshed.
  3. It is important to determine if the lip licking is due to a medical problem. New and excessive licking is concerning and it should be your first priority to find the underlying cause. The best approach is to have your dog checked by a veterinarian. They will likely want to examine the skin around the face, lips, gums, and teeth, and conduct a complete examination of the oral cavity. It is also possible that a dog is licking another part of their body, which can be a sign of a local skin problem, allergy, pain, or anxiety. Your vet will also want a detailed history of your dog’s skin issues, eating patterns, overall appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, energy level, and any history of weight loss or gain.
  4. Another option, if applicable, is recording your dog’s behavior. Showing the footage to your veterinarian may help them determine the issue and begin treatment sooner.

How can we move our lips even though they don't have any bones? - Biology

As I mentioned earlier, next Sunday morning I&rsquoll be doing a special message on this matter of church membership and sharing my heart with you. The Sunday after that, we&rsquoll get back into the first chapter of 2 Corinthians and the text there that follows, starting in chapter 1 verse 15. But this morning, I want to linger a little longer on this matter of the subject of the conscience. Turn, if you will, to 2 Corinthians chapter 1, and you will remember that we looked at verses 12 through 14 a number of weeks ago, even before the Christmas holidays, and we went through those verses rather carefully and discussed them.

But for several messages beyond that, I&rsquove sort of camped on the word &ldquoconscience.&rdquo Let me just read verse 12 to you to set the context for a further discussion of this matter of conscience. Paul writes, &ldquoFor our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God we have conducted ourselves in the world and especially toward you.&rdquo Now you&rsquoll remember that the apostle Paul was being assaulted as to his integrity, as to his righteousness, as to his authority, as to his credibility, as to his effectiveness. He was being attacked on every front. And in defense of himself, he appeals to the highest court, the highest court that is on earth apart from God Himself is conscience. He doesn&rsquot ask for the testimony of some other men to come to his aid. He doesn&rsquot ask for some group to write a letter of commendation. He simply says this, &ldquoWhatever you may be saying, our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience.&rdquo And his conscience was affirming that he was holy and he was godly, he was sincere, he had conducted himself properly in the grace of God, in the world and toward the Corinthians.

Conscience, then, is the highest court on earth. Conscience is the soul&rsquos warning system, as we noted in our last message about this. It is conscience, according to Romans 2:15, which either accuses us or excuses us. That is, it either affirms us as being good and righteous and holy, or it indicts us as being evil and sinful and wicked. And frankly, conscience is the best critic because it knows the innermost secrets of our heart, and nobody else does except for God. If we are going to have a peaceful life, if we are going to have a tranquil life, as Paul called it a quiet and peaceable life, if we&rsquore going to enjoy happiness and fulfillment, we&rsquore going to have the kind of joy that causes our heart to rejoice and gives us the freedom to serve God gladly and happily and without constraint, then we have to have a clear conscience. That should be really the desire and the goal of every believer, to be able to say what Paul said: you can bring all the accusation against me you want, but the proud testimony of my conscience is that I am living in holiness and godly sincerity.

We want to experience that kind of affirmation from our conscience, and that&rsquos challenging because sin pervades us, all of our inmost being. Sinfulness is at the very core of the human soul. Jesus said, for example in Matthew 15:19 and 20, &ldquoOut of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man.&rdquo And then he said, &ldquoThe evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth what is evil, for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart,&rdquo Luke 6:45. In other words, down deep in the human heart is pervasive sinfulness, and it rises to create the kind of words and the kind of actions that we label as sinful. Frankly, it is human nature to love sin and hate God. The carnal mind, Romans 8:7 says, is enmity against God. We are born loving sin, loving ourselves, hating righteousness, and hating God. Yet, though we are born that way, mark this, sin is not a weakness or a flaw for which we cannot be held responsible. It is an energetic, purposeful antagonism toward God that rises out of our will. Sinners freely, willfully and gladly choose sin. In other words, the sin that is in us manifests itself in a deliberate, willful rebellion against God.

The Bible says that sinners will reason in their hearts like this. Psalm 12:4 says, &ldquoWith our tongue we will prevail, our lips are our own, who is Lord over us?&rdquo As if to say God&rsquos not making any claim on my life, I&rsquoll say what I want and I will do what I want. Isaiah 57:4 characterizes sinners as rebellious children who open wide their mouths and stick out their tongues at God. Sin would dethrone God, depose Him, usurp His authority and set self in His place. All sin is therefore, at its heart, an act of pride. Pride says, &ldquoMove over, God. I&rsquom in charge I&rsquoll do what I want.&rdquo Therefore, all sin at its core is blasphemy. All sin at its core is blasphemy because it attacks God.

And when we come into this world we love sin, and so we love our rebellion, and we love our pride, and we love our blasphemy. We delight in it and we seek every opportunity we can to manifest it. But, we have a problem. We have a conscience, and conscience tells us we are guilty. It hammers us. It is like a relentless ringing in our spiritual ears. And so, what do we do? We try to silence conscience by camouflaging our sin, or redefining our sin, or disavowing our responsibility. And you could summarize how we do this maybe in three ways. First of all, in order to quiet our conscience typically, we try to cover up sin, mask it. This isn&rsquot new, Adam and Eve did this in the garden. It says in Genesis that when they sinned, the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. And then they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. They tried to hide. They tried to cover up.

King David tried in futility to cover his guilt when he sinned against Uriah. He committed adultery with Uriah&rsquos wife, Bathsheba. When she became pregnant, David first plotted to try to make it seem as if Uriah was the father of the baby, according to 2 Samuel 11:5 to 13. That didn&rsquot work. So then, he had to scheme to have Uriah killed. That only compounded his sin, and for all the months of David&rsquos having to deal with Bathsheba&rsquos pregnancy, he continued to try to cover his sin. Later, when David was confronted with his sin and repented, he said, &ldquoWhen I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long, for night and day Thy hand was heavy upon me, my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer,&rdquo Psalm 32:3 and 4. David tried to cover it up, and his conscience just plagued him so that his life juices dried up. What&rsquos that? Saliva, blood flow, the fluid that conducts the nervous system. He literally became a sick, sick man.

A second way we try to deal with our sin in order to salve or camouflage and help our conscience survive is to attempt to justify ourselves. Sin is always somebody else&rsquos fault. Again you go back to Adam and Adam blamed not Eve, but actually God. And he described Eve as the woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, and therefore was blaming not just his wife but his God as well. Typically, people try to excuse their wrong doing because they think they have some valid compelling reason. They convince themselves that it&rsquos okay because they really are victims of some outside power, some other source. In our day, we even label sin as sickness, label ourselves as victims, deny that we have ever done anything really wrong. The human mind is endlessly creative in trying to justify itself. Perverted thinking causes us to do that.

Thirdly, and just briefly, we are oblivious to our sin. We try to camouflage our sin by covering it up, attempting to justify ourselves as victims, or we are oblivious to our sin. In other words, we may sin in absolute ignorance. We&rsquore so ignorant, we&rsquore so unknowing in terms of God&rsquos law, that we just sin inadvertently. And that&rsquos characteristic of us as sinners. We, like the psalmist, have to pray, &ldquoWho can discern his errors, acquit me of hidden faults.&rdquo And that&rsquos what David said in Psalm 19. There are things going on in my life I don&rsquot even know about, as well as keeping me back from presumptuous sin. There are the things we know about and plan and premeditate there are the things that just are the inadvertent activities of our fallenness. We naturally tend to be insensitive to our own sin. That&rsquos why Jesus said before you go poking around in somebody else&rsquos eye in Matthew 7, to take out a toothpick. Why don&rsquot you take the two-by-four out of your own eye?

And we can see sin very often better in others than in ourselves. And sin is very deceitful. Sometimes we think because we don&rsquot see the act of sin that we don&rsquot have to deal with the attitudes of sin that are in our hearts. So we, as human beings, we&rsquore just talking categorically in general now. We as human beings have a conscience. Conscience is triggered when we sin. It is triggered by the highest law known in our hearts. And since even pagan people have the law of God written within them so they know what is right and wrong, their conscience afflicts them with guilt. They have to deal with that. How do they do it? Usually they cover it up, justify it in some way, or just flatly ignore it because they&rsquore so busy in their life, they&rsquore so uninformed about the things that God says about their sin. And even if they sometime in the past knew about it, they&rsquove long forgotten what they once knew, and so sin can go on in the lives of people and they aren&rsquot even sensitive to it. It&rsquos becoming such a pattern in their life that they don&rsquot even label it as sin. Now, that&rsquos a dangerous way to live because ultimately it&rsquos going to damn you. Ultimately it&rsquos going to send you to hell because you&rsquore camouflaging the very thing that you have to recognize in order to come to a Savior. Right? And we&rsquove talked about that.

Now, I want to go a little bit deeper into this because I&rsquom very concerned about it for all of our lives, and I want to just ask a few questions this morning and try to answer them so we can dig a little deeper into this. The first question is: what is sin? Let&rsquos get some kind of a clear idea of what sin is. Sin, according to Scripture, is, 1 John 3:4, the transgression of the law. That is to say, sin is any violation of God&rsquos law. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness, as the New American Standard in that same verse, and sin is lawlessness. It is a violation of God&rsquos law. Any lack of conformity to the perfect moral standard of God is sin. Now, the central demand of God&rsquos law is this: what is the first commandment? &ldquoLove the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.&rdquo Right? And the second is, &ldquoLike unto it love your neighbor as yourself.&rdquo So, the epitome of all sin is to violate those two the epitome of all sin then is to fail to love God. That is the primary violation. And it shows up when John 16 says that the Lord is going to send the Holy Spirit and He will convict the world of sin. What is the sin of sin? Because they believe not on Me. In other words, that&rsquos the partner to loving not the Lord, is loving not the Lord Jesus Christ. That&rsquos why 1 Corinthians 16:22 says, &ldquoIf any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be damned.&rdquo

So, the ultimate sin, the epitome of sin, the summation of sin is lack of love for God, lack of love for Christ. That is the epitome of all sin that is the summation of all sinfulness. The carnal mind, Romans 8:7 again, is not subject to the law of God and it can&rsquot be. So, an unregenerate person cannot keep the law of God and therefore he sins, and sins, and sins, and sins, and the compelling sin that leads the parade is lack of love for God, lack of love for Christ, and along with it the attendant love for self which manifests pride. Our natural hatred of the law is such that even knowing what the law demands does nothing but stir up more disobedience. Listen to what Paul wrote, &ldquoThe sinful passions are aroused by the law. I would not have come to know sin except through the law. I would not have known about coveting if the law had not said you shall not covet, but sin taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind.&rdquo Romans 7:5 to 7. Paul says, I read about a sin, and then I knew what it was, and then I saw myself doing it. Rather than the law of God helping me to defeat sin, the law of God just aroused sin. The more sins I learned about, the more things my heart desired to commit.

Such is the sinner&rsquos penchant for sin, that the more he learns about God&rsquos law the more he sins. The law is not going to help him. The law is just going to excite sin. In fact, Romans 1 verse 32 says, I suppose the sum of it all, even though they know the law of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but they give hearty approval to those who practice them. They know the law of God, and they know it leads to death, but they do it anyway. And they applaud the others who do it. Amazing.

Now, our entire culture today reflects this passion for sin. We live in a culture where the passion is now legitimate. In some cultures it isn&rsquot, and so there are social restraints on it. But not in ours. Our entire culture reflects this passionate love for sin and nobody wants to seem to hinder it. Nowhere is this more visible than in the media world. The media have become the spokespeople for the base sins of man. And, nowhere is it more vile than on MTV. MTV, called Music TV, broadcasts nonstop images of sex, drugs and violence. Nonstop. Its programming is purposely designed to appeal to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. It has no other purpose. It has no redeeming virtue. It is not intended to make people moral, to make them good, to make them think deeply. It is not intended to educate them. It is not intended to inform them. It is intended to release their passion. That is all it is intended to do. That is its entire purpose.

MTV&rsquos highest rated program is an animated series featuring two characters whose entire lives are spent watching music videos, and challenging every standard of goodness and morality. Beavis and his friend, whose name shouldn&rsquot be mentioned in public, but is known to you, have literally plumbed the depths of moral nihilism on television. The language, the images featured on these programs are purposely offensive. They are purposely vile. They are anti-morality, anti-Christian and wouldn&rsquot even be appropriate for me to discuss in a worship service.

In spite of this amazing reality of MTV, which is the dregs, the sewer of the media industry, MTV recently did a special on the theology of sin. I didn&rsquot see it on MTV, I want to make that clear, &lsquocause I don&rsquot have that on my television. I saw it on PBS where they repeated it on the Public Broadcast System. I was frankly surprised to see that MTV would even acknowledge the concept of sin, let alone do a special series on it. So I was curious to see what it was about.

I watched a video tape of the program. It was pretty much what I expected, an entirely humanistic rationalization that portrayed sin as something that wasn&rsquot evil, just redefined it. There were certain kinds of behavior they said that were inadvisable. I mean, some things were imprudent, and sometimes it&rsquos unkind to do certain things, but there was nothing inherently wicked in anything, and there was nothing that offended a God because there was really no God.

Now, the series was built around the seven deadly sins. And if any of you have a background in Catholicism you&rsquove probably heard some people talk about the Seven Deadly Sins. They&rsquore not listed as such in the Bible, but in medieval times, some medieval theologians put together a list of what they thought were the seven deadly sins. It&rsquos a somewhat familiar list, here they are: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, envy, gluttony and sloth, or laziness. Not a biblical list, but a classical grouping, probably assembled by some medieval theologians. The purpose was not to identify all sin but to identify the root attitudes of all sin. You will notice that those seven sins, called the Seven Deadly Sins, are not actions, they are attitudes. Pride, covetousness, lust, anger, envy, gluttony and laziness. Those will issue in certain words and certain actions, but those, theologians thought were sort of the things that were underlying human sinful behavior.

Now, on MTV the Seven Deadly Sins were portrayed as anything but deadly. In fact, what they did was they got sound bites from cartoon characters, and excerpts from well-known movies, and interviews with celebrities, and punk rockers, and rappers, and interviews with people in the mall, and it was all edited to provide a running commentary on these sins. And here are the typical responses. Queen Latifah, a rap singer, said, &ldquoPride is a sin? I wasn&rsquot aware of that.&rdquo Actress Kirstie Alley agreed, quote, &ldquoI don&rsquot think pride is a sin and I think some idiot made that up.&rdquo A rocker from the group Aerosmith said, quote, &ldquoLust is what I live for. It&rsquos what I got into the band for. Little girls in the front row.&rdquo Rapper Ice-T said of anger, quote, &ldquoIt&rsquos necessary. You have to release this tension because life brings tension. We release our anger when we do records. When we did &lsquoCop Killer,&rsquo we were angry and the cops got angry back.&rdquo Some Michael Douglas character in a movie called &ldquoWall Street&rdquo said, &ldquoGreed is good.&rdquo

And, of course, there was along with all of this, total reversal of definition of sin, the inevitable appeal to pop psychology to defend these viewpoints, and the defense was always along the line of preserving self-esteem. Psychology says we can&rsquot be labeling people as sinners it will mess their self- esteem up. Ice-T said, quote: &ldquoPride is mandatory. That&rsquos one of the problems of the inner city kids don&rsquot have enough pride. I got into a gang because of pride.&rdquo Now how warped is that?

John Leo wrote a perspective on this in the U.S. News and World Report, summed up the program&rsquos flavor which I read and thought it was very interesting. Listen to what he said. &ldquoInstead of the language of moderation and self-control, everybody seems to speak the therapized language of feelings and self-esteem.&rdquo Pride isn&rsquot a sin you&rsquore supposed to feel good about yourself. Envy makes you feel bad about yourself. &ldquoWhen you have sex with a woman,&rdquo one rocker says, &ldquoshe makes you feel good about yourself.&rdquo But I don&rsquot know if it saves you in the end. Even the repentant gay basher is totally committed to self-talk, quote, &ldquoForgiving myself has been the challenge of my life.&rdquo He writes, &ldquoThere&rsquos a vague sense that sin, if it exists, is surely a problem of psychology.&rdquo Kurt Loder, the narrator, tells us at the start of the program that we are dealing with compulsions. He says, &ldquoThe Seven Deadly Sins are not evil acts, but rather universal human compulsions that can be troubling and highly enjoyable.&rdquo

Discussion of gluttony quickly deteriorates into chatter about addictions. That&rsquos the way all habits and attachments are discussed and the pop therapies the MTV generation grew up on. &ldquoI&rsquom addicted to my girlfriend,&rdquo one male says about gluttony. Someone else says that the 12-step self-help program is God&rsquos gift to the 21st century. He&rsquos just chronicling the chaos and the confusion.

By the way, the repentant gay basher referred to in that article was a young man who had actually killed a homosexual, and then described his feelings of remorse. He wondered if he could ever be forgiven, so he went to a chaplain, I suppose in his prison, and the chaplain told him forgiveness is possible, but the only way he&rsquoll ever know he has forgiveness is if some day he feels it. And so he lives each day to feel forgiven. Sad.

Sin, according to MTV, is not based on absolute moral standards. Instead, it is a question of each person&rsquos own preference. In other words, what is sin to me may not be sin to you. And the MTV program ends with an appeal to universal tolerance. Listen to this. The real danger of sin, according to MTV is anything that does damage to your ego. That&rsquos sin. And no sin, listen to this one, is as evil as the killjoy attitude of those who think sin is an absolute standard that offends a holy God. Thinking that is the worst sin.

That&rsquos how perverse the culture has become. The entire production, the entire defense of sin reminds me that we live in a culture given over by God to its own evil lusts. People love their sin, and they will go to extreme ends to justify it and rationalize it. And as long as they do that, they damn themselves, right? Because, if you don&rsquot define the disease properly, you&rsquore never going to come to the proper cure. You can&rsquot come to salvation unless you understand sin. Obviously then, this kind of thinking is deadly and damning to those who are deceived by it. But it is also true, and this is where I want to move at this moment, we don&rsquot have much time left.

This kind of thinking, and this is what concerns me, this kind of thinking has invaded the thinking of Christians. It has. Christians are casualties to the culture&rsquos redefinition of human behavior. Churches are. Churches which once would not tolerate adultery, and fornication, and homosexuality, and lying, and cheating and whatever other kinds of things, very tolerant of it now. Churches that once would want to confront sin don&rsquot confront it anymore. We&rsquove all fallen into the psychological game playing of self-esteem and ego-building. This is typical in all the movements of the Christian church. It isn&rsquot in every church, but it certainly is where the thrust is. And if you speak against it, you&rsquore really anathema. We have allowed the world to redefine God&rsquos moral law and even to redefine God&rsquos character and make Him more tolerant of sin than He is.

Constant exposure then to the Word of God is essential. I&rsquoll tell you, folks, in a time like this, what churches need more than they need anything else is the constant exposure to God&rsquos divine standard. Instead of that, they&rsquore getting churches that are acquiescing to the MTV mentality and giving them more of the same stuff, which is inconceivable to me. There ought to be such an irate ground swell of hostility against this that it literally would overthrow those kinds of churches that are watering down the truth. I mean, we ought to be so irate about this acquiescence that it starts a spiritual revolution. I mean, it&rsquos amazing to me that in a time when the culture is being defined by MTV, churches are trying to adapt to the culture. It&rsquos incredible.

On the other hand, what people desperately need, constant exposure to the Word of God which is the only thing, listen to this, that&rsquos going to keep you sensitive to the divine morality week after week after week as you are assaulted by the other stuff. When we need that so desperately to keep our sensitivity to God&rsquos standard and to true holiness and true purity, churches are jettisoning that in favor of entertaining their people. It&rsquos an amazing time in which we live.

Now, I want to ask a second question, we&rsquoll see how far we get. What sin is the most serious? We know what sin is. It is any violation of the law of God, and we&rsquore never going to be sensitive to sin unless we are constantly made sensitive to the law of God and you do that through the teaching of the Word. Because the culture is just drowning people, including Christian people, in this new morality, and this new psychological explanation for iniquity, and this new garbage about self-esteem and the need to build your ego. We know what sin is, only as we are exposed to the Word of God, and I think it has to happen all the time. This is not a time for short sermons that are interesting this is a time for long sermons that are demanding. Keeping a pure life is very, very challenging in this time. And we need to hear the Word of God.

But, let&rsquos go a little deeper. What is the most serious sin? What sin is most serious? And I&rsquoll tell you what the answer is, the medieval theologians had it right: it&rsquos the sins of the mind. It&rsquos the sins of the mind. Jesus said it: it&rsquos out of the heart that the mouth speaks. It&rsquos what&rsquos in the man&rsquos heart that comes out that is so defiling. And the real challenge in our lives, beloved, is to keep a pure mind, and that is very challenging. And I believe the only way that&rsquos going to happen is to be continually brought, as it were, to the feet of the Word of God and to have it convincingly proclaimed. Actually, the Seven Deadly Sins of medieval theology were not behaviors at all they were sins in the mind, all of them. And no sin is more destructive to the conscience than the sin that takes place in the arena of the mind. Sins in the mind assault the conscience like no other sins because, listen to me, the conscience is the only deterrent.

A Christian friend can be a deterrent to a sin of the tongue, can&rsquot he? You&rsquore going to watch you say if you&rsquore around another Christian, is that not true? A Christian friend, a husband, a wife, a child, is going to be a deterrent to sins of action. But the only deterrent that you have in your entire life to sins of the mind is your, what? Your conscience. And you need to feed the Word of God constantly into your mind so that your conscience really operates with full power. Your conscience needs to be able to be so sensitive to the sins of your mind, so that you can enjoy the kind of thing that Paul enjoyed when he said our proud confidence is this, the testimony of a good conscience. You&rsquove got to deal with the sins of the mind. Only you and only God know about them. First Corinthians 2:11 says, &ldquoWho among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?&rdquo Who knows? Nobody knows, just you, in your own spirit.

Many people who won&rsquot do evil deeds are nevertheless boldly evil in their thoughts. They won&rsquot act evil things because there is peer pressure, and there are compelling reasons not to, but they are very involved in evil in their minds. A man who, for example, abstains from fornication for fear of getting caught might convince himself that it&rsquos all right to indulge in his own mind in salacious fantasies because he thinks no one will ever discover such a private sin. The fact of the matter is: the sin he deliberately entertains in his mind may be a thousand times more evil than anything he would ever think of doing before others. And Scripture says his guilt is the same before God as if he acted it out. That&rsquos why his conscience is so demanding, so relentless. You see, to indulge in sins of thought, to indulge in those kinds of things is to molest your conscience directly. And that&rsquos to just have unending guilt and the absence of joy. Those who thoughts are impure cannot have pure consciences. The guilt is inherent in the evil thought. When the thoughts are defiled, the conscience immediately is defiled, and the conscience screams. To the pure, said Paul to Titus in chapter 1 verse 15, &ldquoAll things are pure but to those who are defiled, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.&rdquo When the mind is defiled, the conscience is defiled. Nothing damages the conscience more than the habit of indulging in evil thoughts. Unfortunately, once it&rsquos begun the practice becomes all too easy.

And by the way, this is sin that doesn&rsquot need any opportunity. Have you noticed that? It doesn&rsquot require anybody, or anything, or any particular place. Sins of the mind can happen anytime, anywhere, under any circumstance, and that is why when you begin to cultivate sins of the mind, you are putting yourself in an absolutely terrorizing situation because you can&rsquot escape it. There are some sins you can flee, not the sins of the mind.

So, it is destructive beyond anything else. You think that it&rsquos okay because it&rsquos not on the outside, and everybody thinks all is well. And the truth of the matter is it is worse on the inside, because it is undetected by others and therefore breeding habitual iniquity, by engaging the mind, and the emotions, and the desire, and the memory, and the imagination. Thought sins. You will turn your soul toward sinful habits that kind of follow a flow. Sow a thought, reap an act sow an act, reap a habit sow a habit, reap a character sow a character, reap a destiny.

It&rsquos a tragic thing. And that is why it is so important that you hear the Word of God constantly, and are sensitized to sin constantly. Again I go back to this issue because it so concerns me. People can go to many churches over and over and over and over and sin is never confronted. That may make them feel momentarily comfortable. It does nothing for their long-term conscience. It&rsquos not helping it&rsquos hindering. And eventually, those things on the inside will show up on the outside. No one ever falls into adultery. We read about that with pastors and others. No one ever falls into adultery. The adulterer&rsquos heart has been shaped by a long process of sinful thoughts and lustful thoughts. It gets shaped that way. The heart of the thief, it is bent long before his act of thievery by covetousness. All sin is first incubated in the mind. And James says in James 1:13, &ldquoLet no one say when he is tempted. I&rsquom being tempted by God for God cannot be tempted by evil and He doesn&rsquot tempt anyone, but each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. When lust is conceived it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished it brings forth death.&rdquo Don&rsquot be deceived, brethren, it all starts inside.

Again and again, you remember Christ rebuked the Pharisees because they observed the external ceremonial law and they neglected the moral part? They were utterly preoccupied with appearing to be righteous, and they were like a tomb: white on the outside, on the inside they stunk with dead men&rsquos bones. He says, &ldquoWoe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish so the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men&rsquos bones and all uncleanness for even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.&rdquo And did you know the Pharisees had gotten to the point where they actually believed that evil thoughts were not really sinful, just evil deeds? And that&rsquos why Jesus said to them, &ldquoYou have heard that the ancients were told, You shall not commit murder and whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court. You have heard that it was said you shall not commit adultery. I say to you that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.&rdquo Not only is murder a sin, but so is anger not only is adultery a sin, but so is lust. Try to tell that to our culture.

What should be going on in our minds? What should be going on in the deepest recesses of our minds and hearts? What should be happening there? I&rsquoll tell you what, worship and love to God. Worship and love to God. When we were saved we were saved to be true worshipers. The Lord saved us in order that we might be made true worshipers. Listen to this: to sin in the mind, then, is to desecrate the very sanctuary where our highest and best worship should be taking place. So, cultivating sins of the mind not only defiles the mind, but it displaces worship for which we were saved. And there again, it can be defined as a form of blasphemy.

Relatively easy sometimes, to confess and forsake deeds of sin, words of sin, but the sins of our thought life go unconfessed more than any other kind. They are the soul- blackening sins. They are the character-damaging sins. They work directly against the conscience, and there is the conscience fighting with all its worth against this onslaught. That&rsquos why the Old Testament says in Proverbs 4:23, &ldquoWatch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.&rdquo But, you know, beyond conscience, I have to say that God knows our hearts. Acts 15:8 says, &ldquoGod knows our hearts.&rdquo First John 3:20 says, &ldquoGod is greater than our heart and knows all things.&rdquo David wrote, &ldquoThou dost understand my thought from afar and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.&rdquo So God knows whether we have a lusting, coveting, angry, hostile, selfish, proud heart that is cultivating all of those sins of thought or whether or not our heart is given over to worship to Him. Psalm 44:21 says, &ldquoWould not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.&rdquo Jesus told the Pharisees in Luke 16:15, &ldquoYou are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts. And that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.&rdquo

And you know something? What&rsquos going on in your heart is the litmus test of your character. Proverbs 23:7, &ldquoAs he thinks within himself, so is he.&rdquo Proverbs 6:12, &ldquoA worthless person, a wicked man is the one who with perversity in his heart devises evil continually.&rdquo You want to know what you really are? Take a look at your heart. Take a look at the inside, for as in water, face reflects face so the heart of man reflects man, Proverbs 27:19.

External behavior is not an accurate gauge of your character the thoughts of your heart reveal the truth. The thoughts of your heart are only known to God and your conscience. And, beloved, it is so crucial that we cultivate a pure life so that we can enjoy the testimony of a clear conscience. And you know, the longer you learn the Word, and the more you&rsquore exposed to the Word, and the more your heart is filled with its truth, the greater will be your love and your worship toward God. And the cleansing of that is going to affect clear conscience. I honestly don&rsquot know how men can possibly feed their thought life, filth, and foul things, and obscenities, and wicked things, and things which displease God and stand and minister without literally being assaulted by their conscience.

Job&rsquos comforters, you remember them? They came to him and they falsely accused him, and there wasn&rsquot anything in his life they could accuse him of, right? You remember Job. He was more righteous than any other man, so what are they going to accuse him of? I&rsquoll tell you what, they accused him of a dirty thought life. Zophar came and said to him, Job 20 verses 12 and 13, &ldquoEvil is sweet in his mouth and he hides it under his tongue. Though he desires it and will not let it go, he holds it in his mouth.&rdquo

In other words, he&rsquos really wicked on the inside. You don&rsquot see it, and you don&rsquot hear it, but he&rsquos all foul on the inside. The picture he painted of the evil thinker is vividly true. Evil thoughts are like candy to them. To the evil thinker they derive great satisfaction from their imaginary iniquities. They savor their evil fantasies. They relish them like a choice morsel of sweetness under their tongue. They roll them around in their imagination. They return to the same wicked musings from which they can glean illicit pleasure over and over again. They mull them over like an animal chewing the cud, bringing up the favorite evil thoughts time and time again to react anew in the mind. This is what they accused Job of, but so far misjudged Job. Job had carefully guarded himself against that. This is what he said in Job 31:1, &ldquoI have made a covenant with my eyes, how then could I gaze at a virgin?&rdquo I don&rsquot do anything. I don&rsquot look in any direction that&rsquos going to cultivate an evil thought. He knew God was the audience to his thoughts. He says this, &ldquoDoes He not see my ways and number all my steps? If I have walked with falsehood and my foot has hastened after deceit, let Him weigh me with accurate scales and let God know my integrity.&rdquo And then Job denied that his heart had followed his eyes. He denied that his heart has been enticed by another woman. That would be a lustful crime, he says, and iniquity to be punished by judges. To hide iniquity in the bosom, he said, would be to cover one&rsquos transgression like Adam. The very thought appalled his righteous heart.

No, Job was very aware of the danger of sinful thoughts. He consciously, deliberately set a guard on his heart to avoid such things. And then you know what else he did? He even offers a sacrifice to God just in case his children sinned in their hearts. When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, that Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. This, Job did continually. Concerned not only about his own thought life, but the thought life of his own family. That&rsquos why the Lord said there&rsquos no one like him on the earth. He&rsquos a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil.

So, this whole matter of sins of thought has to be dealt with if we&rsquore going to deal with the conscience, if we&rsquore going to liberate our conscience and enjoy peace and joy and happiness and bliss in Christian experience. If you want to quiet your noisy conscience, you&rsquove got to deal with your thought life.

Well, maybe I better just quickly finish in two minutes. There are three ways the mind engages in sin. I&rsquoll just mention them, and then I&rsquoll stop. Sins of remembering, first. To cherish the memory of sins past, to bring back a lurid memory of a bygone sin is to repeat the sin all over again. Not long ago I baptized a man who was a former homosexual, transformed by Christ. His life was changed. His circle of friends was changed. He removed himself as far as possible from anything that was at all reminiscent of the past life. He wasn&rsquot tempted by old lovers. He wasn&rsquot tempted by homosexuals around him, but you know what he had unceasing temptation from? Take a guess. His memory that cycled back through all the illicit relationships of his past. Memories so vivid, so embedded in his brain that he thought sometimes he would never be able to overcome them. All the vile relationships of the past were stored there. And if he wanted to, he could say no to those temptations. And if he wanted to, he could say yes and cycle back through the filth of the past. Sin has a way of impressing itself on our memories with vivid sensations we cannot shake off.

I&rsquoll tell you, I grieve when I know that young impressionable people in their teenage years are going to go sit in a movie theater and watch people who are 18 feet high, in vivid drama, carrying out sexual activities and assume that those images may remain in the minds of those young people forever, at least in this life. It can&rsquot get out of them. You can&rsquot dismiss them. And Satan can cycle you back through those, and your flesh as well can do that.

And this isn&rsquot unique to sexual sins. Some people love to rehearse the memories of the time they got angry and poured out vengeance on somebody they resented, or they time they lied and got away with it, or they relish the time they cheated on their income tax. All kinds of temptations come from memory. Satan will try to take you back through the garbage of your past, and once you implant a lurid image in your mind, you can&rsquot take it away, it&rsquos there. So, one way we sin in the mind is through remembering sin in the past.

Secondly, sins of scheming. The mind, like we saw in James, begins to lust, and it spins its desire into the imagination and develops the full fantasy. And it schemes, and plots, and plans, the presumptuous premeditative sin.

And then it becomes the third kind, imaginary sin. The scheming could actually end in a real action of sin, but there are sins of imagining, purely imaginary sin. Committing adultery in the heart, murdering in the heart, coveting in the heart, being discontent with what you have with your place in life, day dreaming about being married to someone else, musing about a luxury that you want in your life, indulging gluttony in an imaginary binge. Literally millions of people live in this kind of fantasy of sin. And you know what I believe? You&rsquove heard of this theology of positive confession? I believe for the most part it&rsquos nothing but fantasy sinning. It is not godly, it is not virtuous, and it is not faith. To say, I want a new Rolls Royce, or a new Cadillac, or a new house, or a better job, or more money, and I&rsquom going to believe God for that, is not a righteous act of faith. It is an iniquity. It is a fantasy sin. It is a lust. It is covetousness.

And so, the mind can sin by remembering, by scheming for sins in the future, and by developing imagination. The psalmist said, &ldquoCreate in me a clean,&rdquo what? &ldquoHeart, O God, so that he could have a clear conscience.&rdquo

Let&rsquos bow in prayer. Now, while your heads are bowed in this closing moment, let me just have you listen to what I say, and then we&rsquoll close in prayer. How are you going to deal with the problem of sins of thought? First, confess it, identify it and forsake it. Whether it&rsquos immorality, or anger, or vengeance, or bitterness, or covetousness, discontent. Secondly, refuse to entertain that thought. Make a covenant with the Lord to think on things that are honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and good. Then, feed on the Word which, when hid in the heart, prevents sin. And then, avoid evil attractions. Don&rsquot expose yourself to things that provoke sins of thought. And then, cultivate the love of God. It is my prayer and my desire for you that you will glorify God, you will honor your Savior, you will enjoy the blessing, the triumphant bliss of a clear conscience and that you&rsquoll be able to say with Paul, &ldquoOur proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity we&rsquove conducted ourselves in the world.&rdquo What a testimony.

Father, work that in every heart. Cleanse every heart, and may we have an affirming conscience, the joy and the peace of an affirming conscience. Thank You that forgiveness is available, and it&rsquos not just a feeling, it&rsquos a fact given to one who asks, for if we confess, You forgive. Create in us a clean heart, O God, for Christ&rsquos sake. Amen.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.


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