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HelloIOTA: Evolution of Journalism

Humans set themselves apart from most others in the animal kingdom with their ability to communicate. The origins of spoken language are rather unclear, but Dr. Quentin Atkinson's work suggests that human spoken language evolved around 60,000 years ago. Origins of written language can be traced more accurately since physical written records last longer than auditory sound waves. Writing was invented at least four different times in human history, all independently, and mostly starting during the Bronze Age.

Sumerian cuneiform emerged around 3,500 B.C. Egyptian hieroglyphics around 3,400 B.C. Elamite script in present-day Iran around 2,600 B.C. Indus script of the Indus Valley Civilization around 3,000 B.C. The first alphabets ("abjads") mapped single symbols to single phonemes in 1,800 B.C. Cretan hieroglyphs of Crete around 2,100 B.C. Chinese logograms from the Shang Dynasty in 1,200 B.C.

People have wondered over the millennia whether language was an innate characteristic of the human brain, or learned in childhood. There are anecdotes, stories, and even modern day experiments looking at the inherit-ability of language. A poignant anecdote/attempted experiment: the experiment of Pharaoh Psammethichus I of the 26th Egyptian Dynasty. In 664 B.C. the Pharaoh conducted the first recorded psychological experiment. He ordered two children to be sent to the countryside and raised by a shepherd who wasn't allowed to speak in the kids' presence. Despite not having ever heard a spoken word, the kids began speaking Phrygian, most frequently saying the word for "bread". Psammethichus concluded that the innate language of humans is Phrygian. The conclusion seems silly today, but it's hard to blame the ambitious Pharaoh for his poor study design and small sample size, because Sir Francis Bacon wouldn't invent the scientific method for another 2,000 years! Regardless, the Phaoraoh's curiosity about human language represents the long-standing recognition of the im...

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