The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: How did early civilizations learn the language of their neighbours?  (Read 5301 times)

Jim Geeting

  • Guest
Jim Geeting  asked the Naked Scientists:
The History channel has produced many programs that chronicle the epic battles fought from the time of the Sumerians through the era of the Roman empire to the Age of Exploration.

Frequently preceding these battles there was some form of communication between the warring parties.  Usually a group of emissaries asking for tribute.  The programs always take it for granted there were translators readily available to communicate between the parties.

How did early civilizations learn the language of their neighbors?  Or, in the case of invading armies who invaded first and asked questions later, what form did the first verbal contact take?

I assume there was a fair amount of intermixing between neighboring cultures in the form of trade or travel.  I'm interested in learning the mechanics of how one group of people when they first meet another, begin to understand the language of the other.

Was there a widespread technique or pattern to the set of questions visiting people used during first contact, such as:

I am ____.
You are?
How many are you?
Do you have anything to eat?
Do you have anything to trade?
Where is the gold?

Just curious.  I've never seen or read anything that explains how early people learned anothers language.

What do you think?


 

Offline wannabe

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 74
    • View Profile
They stole the females and took it from there.
 

blakestyger

  • Guest
Mrs blakestyger says that language is transferred well between children.
 

Offline wannabe

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 74
    • View Profile
So they stole the children too
 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8669
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
A child who grew up in an area where 2 languages were spoken would learn both languages.

My dad's knowledge of Italian derives from the time he spent listening to Italian prisoners of war in Kenya. It's a little rusty after 60 years or so but that's where he learned it.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum


 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums