Language around 50,000 BC

The Globe

Linguist Merrit Ruhlen has gone one step further and proposed that a common language once spanned the entire world. He said of this foundation language, which he calls Proto-Global: What seems to me the most probable explanation for the linguistic data, as they are presently known, is that current linguistic diversity derives from the appearance of behaviourally modern people forty or fifty thousand years ago. While anatomically modern humans may have appeared in Africa before 100,000 BC these people did not behave like us. That in itself may indicate their more rudimentary linguistic skills. Several scholars have in fact suggested that the 'sapiens explosion' as it is sometimes called, involved the development of fully modern human language as recently as 40,000 years ago. (Uriel's Machine)

The appearance of new ways of thinking and communicating, between 70,000 and 30,000 years ago, constitutes the Cognitive Revolution.  Our language is amazingly supple. We can connect a limited number of sounds and signs to produce an infinite number of sentences, each with a distinct meaning. We can thereby ingest, store and communicate a prodigious amount of information about the surrounding world. The truly unique feature of our language is not its ability to transmit information about men and lions. Rather, it’s the ability to transmit information about things that do not exist at all. As far as we know, only Sapiens can talk about entire kinds of entities that they have never seen, touched or smelled. Legends, myths, gods and religions appeared for the first time with the Cognitive Revolution. (Sapiens)


Various scholars believe that our contemporary fluency of speech appeared only after about 50,000 years ago and in only a limited number of hominid species (perhaps only one); others believe that even the toolmakers of Olduvai Gorge could communicate vocally with much greater fluency than chimpanzees. The areas of the human brain most associated with speech, Broca's and Wernicke's areas, both of which are located on the left side of the brain, were almost certainly not as developed in early hominids, given that their brians were much smaller than ours. But speech is not simply a mtter of brain size. Unlike the anatomy of other animals, ther human larynx and tghe pharynx converge low in the throat. The advantage of this odd configuration is that it provides a relatively large chamber over the vocal chords, permitting sound production of grerat variety. (Patterns in Prehistory)

Southwest Asia




Indus Valley






South America




North America