Where and when did the language, which is one of the most mysterious products of human evolution, developed? The MIT professor says we should look for cave in order to find the answer to this question.
In a new study, better-known as the writer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) linguist Shigeru Miyagawa, it is claimed that the distinctive features of cave art will provide important clues in illuminating how our symbolic and versatile language skills evolve.
This claim is based on the fact that the cave paintings have been made acoustically "sensitive spots" where sound resonates vigorously, as observed by many researchers. Taking these pictures in the deeper and more difficult parts of the caves shows that the acoustics are the primary reason for choosing the place. The paintings are thought to be representative of the voices that early people feel in these points.
In the new study, it is said that the convergence between paintings and sound, which the authors call "transfer of modal information", is a combination of auditory and visual art that "allows early people to develop the skills of conveying symbolic thoughts." The combination of sound and images is regarded as the most characteristic feature of the human language with its symbolic direction and the capacity to produce infinite new sentences. MIT Japanese linguist and culture linguist Miyagawa says that cave art plays an important role in achieving such a high cognitive process of homo sapiens and that today's people also have a definite cognitive process that transforms an acoustic sign into a mental representation and visually externalizes it
Cave painters are estimated to be part of a communication process, rather than working as early modern painters, throwing themselves out in their spare time and moving their impressions to the canvas.
Miyagawa said, "In my opinion, these painters were communicating with each other. It was a communal effort. "
Is it representative or ritual?
Throughout the history of humanity, the birth and development of language has largely been preserved in its uncertainty. It is estimated that the human species is about 200,000 and the human language is at least 100,000 years old.
Miyagawa says that we have no idea about 99.9999% of evolution, and it is extremely difficult to understand how human language emerged during evolution. Again, according to Miyagawa, it is a fact that the language does not become fossilized, but perhaps it is possible to see the beginning of the process of tapping out the symbolic thought of Homo sapiens in cave paintings.
Although the most famous are located in France and Spain, cave paintings are found all over the world. It is estimated that one of the cave official forms – an expression of the symbolic thought – is the geometric gabbits on the fly pieces in the Blombos Cave in South Africa – at least 70,000 years old. This kind of symbolic art is thought to be a sign of a cognitive capacity that people carry with them all over the world.
Miyagawa cave paintings, like the human language, say that Homo sapiens, especially in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, are encountered in every continent. For example, in the past few years, a group of researchers have prepared a catalog of cave paintings that they believe are roughly 40,000 years old in Indonesia. It is reported that these cave paintings are much older than the most famous cave paintings in Europe.
What exactly happened to the caves where the people were painting voices on the walls? Researchers say that in explaining their answer to this question, the acoustics in the cave are used to make some voices that mimic the "susceptible spots" hoof sounds. Researchers support these views by suggesting that 90% of the cave paintings are found with ungulates. It is thought that these paintings may have been drawn as a part of rituals or as representing some stories or a certain accumulation of knowledge.
Miyagawa suggests that "people who have become objects, objects and qualification skills" hit the features of the language with cave paintings. The event, object and qualification skills are parallel to some of the universal elements of the human language, the verb, the name, and the adjective. Miyagawa claims that acoustically based cave paintings played a role in shaping our cognitive symbolic mind.
More analysis is needed
The allegations put forward by Miyagawa, Lesure and Nobrega go beyond a plausible conjecture that has led us to think more about the language root and point to new research issues.
In order to prove this hypothesis, the syntax of visual representations given by cave paintings must be studied more intensively. Miyagawa states that the presence of a language is evident in paintings as a linguist who has explored the contents thoroughly and has also studied on the famous Lascaux cave paintings in France. However, how much of the cave paintings can be interpreted linguistically remains an open-ended question.
The long history of cave paintings is also a review for future research. It is anticipated that the cave paintings, whatever the development of the human language, will help to find the place of the birth of the language which is believed to have emerged quite early in our development, with the right date and the oldest cave paintings.
Miyagawa, a humorous dille, says that one of the things we need to prove assumptions is to go to Africa and find cave paintings of 120,000 years old.
In-depth study of cave paintings as part of their cognitive development is said to reduce, at least, our tendency to evaluate these paintings through our own experience, which many believe are only decorative.
Miyagawa adds that if transfer of research is on the right track, transfer of modal information can help to develop a symbolic mind, he adds that art is not only a maritime culture, but also a foundation for the shaping of our cognitive skills.
Article : Miyagawa, S., Lesure, C., & Nóbrega, V. A. (2018). Cross-Modality Information Transfer: A Hypothesis about the Relationship among Prehistoric Cave Paintings, Symbolic Thinking, and the Emergence of Language. Frontiers in Psychology 9 115.