Re: Jaynes and Hoagland findings related??

scharle (
17 Jan 1995 21:28:17 GMT

In article <3fgvot$>, rhuss+@EDRC.CMU.EDU (Robert Huss) writes:
|> |>
|> |> And, of course, without knowing it, he has discovered the reason for
|> |> heiroglyphics in our oldest languages; without spoken speech, the idea
|> |> of a pheonetic alphabet could not possibly have occurred to anybody.
|> Without a written language the idea of a phonetic alphabet wouldn't
|> have occured to anybody either. It makes sense to me that the first
|> visual representations would be pictograms, rather than phonetics.

Egyptian Hieroglyphics partially reflected the sound of the spoken
language. They weren't just pictures of things, but a full way of
representing the spoken speech. For example, for a word which wasn't
easily pictured, a homonym or group of homonyms could be used (sort of
like rebus writing).

I am happy that he agrees that without spoken speech, the idea of a
phonetic (to be pedantic about it, that should be "phonemic", but let's
not quibble) alphabet wouldn't occur to anyone. For it is just as true
that without spoken speech the idea of Hieroglyphics wouldn't have
occured to anybody.

Someone with better knowledge than I would have to comment on the
Sumerian cuneiform writing (slightly older than Hieroglyphics), but I
suspect that it had phonemic elements, too.

Quite contrary to the hint that lack of an alphabet suggests the
non-existence of a spoken language, there is ample evidence that spoken
languages can exist indefinitely, even with writing systems, without the
idea of an alphabet occuring to the speakers.

Of course, if someone has a "time machine" by which he can go back
before the time of phonemic elements in writing, and tell us that there
was no spoken language then, I can't argue with that.

Tom Scharle
Room G003 Computing Center |
University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 46556-0539 USA