Language - статья на английском языке

The gift of speech and a well-ordered language are characteristic of every known group of human beings. No tribe has ever been found which is without language and all statements to the contrary may be dismissed as mere folklore. There seems to be no warrant whatever for the statement which is sometimes made that there are certain peoples whose vocabulary is so limited that they cannot get on without the supplementary use of gesture, so that intelligible communication between members of such a group becomes impossible in the dark. The truth of the matter is that language is an essentially perfect means of expression and communication among every known people. Of all aspects of culture it is a fair guess that language was the first to receive a highly developed form and that its essential perfection is a prerequisite to the development of culture as a whole...
Many attempts have been made to unravel the origin of language but most of these are hardly more than exercises of the speculative imagination. Linguists as a whole have lost interest in the problem and this for two reasons. In the first place, it has come to be realized that there exist no truly primitive languages in a psychological sense, the modern researches in archaeology have indefinitely extended the time of man's cultural past and that it is therefore vain to go much beyond the perspective opened up by the study of actual languages. In the second place, our knowledge of psychology, particularly of the symbolic processes in general, is not felt to be sound enough or far reaching enough to help materially with the problem of the emergence of speech. It is probable that the origin of language is not a problem that can be solved out of the resources of linguistics alone but that it is essentially a particular case of a much wider problem of the genesis of symbolic behavior and of the specialization of such behavior in the laryngeal region which may be presumed to have had only expressive functions to begin with. Perhaps a close study of the behavior of very young children under controlled conditions may provide some valuable hints, but it seems dangerous to reason from such experiments to the behavior of pre-cultural man. It is more likely that the kinds of studies which are now in progress of the behavior of the higher apes will help supply some idea of the genesis of speech.
(From "Language" by Edward Sapir)