It may not suprise the more chauvanistic reader that it was women who set us all off nattering. Anyway, such is the conclusion of female author, Dean Falk (2009), who states that with the development of the prehensile thumb, consequent advances in fine-motor skills enabled more skilled handling of ‘tools’ and as a result, women working with tools needed to set their babies down to get on with their tasks. This freaked the babies out. Women thus learnt to shush and sooth the babies with baby-talk (‘motherese’). This, Dean Falk characterizes as being ‘musical, high-pitched, slow, exaggerated and pleasing’. Thus, apparently, appeared proto-language. Initially it had a highly emotional (right brain) content for it evolved out of animal calls. Later, to pass on their tool-handling skills to older children, instruction-giving (left brain) evolved necessitating the development of more complex speech. This became possible as physiological morphology around the throat and palate evolved facilitating a wider range of sounds. Musical transmission of emotional content and ‘meaning’ transfer through differentiated symbolic sounds, then merged. Hence, languages today are a blend of right and left brains working together in conjunction.
Complex communication is undeniably a defining human facet. ‘The device (the telephone) is inherently of no value to us’, said a Western Union internal memo in 1876. And how wrong they were! Any means of communication possible has been snapped up by our species to pass on information both mundane and important: From African tribal drums and Indian smoke signals, to pony express and pigeon post, to telecommunications and the internet. Communication is a compulsive social need. As individuals, we are alone without it.