Theory of origin of languages



English language, Old English, original language, pedagogical grammar, prescriptive grammar, reference grammar, theoretical grammar, West Germanic language


This paper aimed at exploring the theory of the origin of languages. The history of the English language begins with the birth of the English language on the island of Britain about 1,500 years ago. English is a West Germanic language derived from the Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to the island of Britain by Germanic immigrants from parts of the northwest of what is now the Netherlands and Germany. Initially, Old English was a group of dialects reflecting the origins of the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England. One of these dialects, West Saxon eventually came to dominate. Then the original Old English was influenced by two waves of invasion. The first wave of invasion was the invasion of speakers of the Scandinavian branch of the German language family. They conquered and inhabited parts of Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries. Then this second wave of invasion was the Normans in the 11th century who spoke a dialect of French. These two invasions resulted in English being "mixed up" to some degree (although it was never a literal mixed language).


Aboitiz, F., & Garcıa, R. (1997). The evolutionary origin of the language areas in the human brain. A neuroanatomical perspective. Brain Research Reviews, 25(3), 381-396.

Arbib, M. A. (2008). From grasp to language: Embodied concepts and the challenge of abstraction. Journal of Physiology-Paris, 102(1-3), 4-20.

Berwick, R. C., Friederici, A. D., Chomsky, N., & Bolhuis, J. J. (2013). Evolution, brain, and the nature of language. Trends in cognitive sciences, 17(2), 89-98.

Charman, T., Baron-Cohen, S., Swettenham, J., Baird, G., Cox, A., & Drew, A. (2000). Testing joint attention, imitation, and play as infancy precursors to language and theory of mind. Cognitive development, 15(4), 481-498.

Christiansen, M. H., & Kirby, S. (2003). Language evolution: Consensus and controversies. Trends in cognitive sciences, 7(7), 300-307.

Corballis, M. C. (1992). On the evolution of language and generativity. Cognition, 44(3), 197-226.

Corballis, M. C. (2017). Language evolution: a changing perspective. Trends in cognitive sciences, 21(4), 229-236.

Crow, T. J. (1997). Is schizophrenia the price that Homo sapiens pays for language?. Schizophrenia research, 28(2-3), 127-141.

Crow, T. J. (2000). Schizophrenia as the price that Homo sapiens pays for language: a resolution of the central paradox in the origin of the species. Brain research reviews, 31(2-3), 118-129.

Crow, T. J. (2008). The ʻbig bangʼ theory of the origin of psychosis and the faculty of language. Schizophrenia research, 102(1-3), 31-52.

De Villiers, J. (2007). The interface of language and theory of mind. Lingua, 117(11), 1858-1878.

Flöel, A., Buyx, A., Breitenstein, C., Lohmann, H., & Knecht, S. (2005). Hemispheric lateralization of spatial attention in right-and left-hemispheric language dominance. Behavioural brain research, 158(2), 269-275.

Gelman, R., & Butterworth, B. (2005). Number and language: how are they related?. Trends in cognitive sciences, 9(1), 6-10.

Gibson, E., Futrell, R., Piantadosi, S. P., Dautriche, I., Mahowald, K., Bergen, L., & Levy, R. (2019). How efficiency shapes human language. Trends in cognitive sciences, 23(5), 389-407.

Henshilwood, C. S., d'Errico, F., Marean, C. W., Milo, R. G., & Yates, R. (2001). An early bone tool industry from the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, South Africa: implications for the origins of modern human behaviour, symbolism and language. Journal of human evolution, 41(6), 631-678.

Hewes, G. W. (1977). Language origin theories. In Language learning by a chimpanzee (pp. 3-53). Academic Press.

Josse, G., & Tzourio-Mazoyer, N. (2004). Hemispheric specialization for language. Brain Research Reviews, 44(1), 1-12.

Koerner, E. F. K., & Asher, R. E. (Eds.). (2014). Concise history of the language sciences: from the Sumerians to the cognitivists. Elsevier.

Kuhl, P. K. (1994). Learning and representation in speech and language. Current opinion in neurobiology, 4(6), 812-822.

Levinson, S. C., & Evans, N. (2010). Time for a sea-change in linguistics: Response to comments on ‘The myth of language universals’. Lingua, 120(12), 2733-2758.

Liberman, A. M., & Whalen, D. H. (2000). On the relation of speech to language. Trends in cognitive sciences, 4(5), 187-196.

Locke, J. L. (1997). A theory of neurolinguistic development. Brain and language, 58(2), 265-326.

Meltzoff, A. N. (1999). Origins of theory of mind, cognition and communication. Journal of communication disorders, 32(4), 251-269.

Mikhail, J. (2007). Universal moral grammar: Theory, evidence and the future. Trends in cognitive sciences, 11(4), 143-152.

Perlovsky, L. (2010). Musical emotions: Functions, origins, evolution. Physics of life reviews, 7(1), 2-27.

Piattelli-Palmarini, M. (1989). Evolution, selection and cognition: From “learning” to parameter setting in biology and in the study of language. Cognition, 31(1), 1-44.

Piattelli-Palmarini, M. (1989). Evolution, selection and cognition: From “learning” to parameter setting in biology and in the study of language. Cognition, 31(1), 1-44.

Pinker, S., & Jackendoff, R. (2005). The faculty of language: what's special about it?. Cognition, 95(2), 201-236.

Rizzolatti, G., & Arbib, M. A. (1998). Language within our grasp. Trends in neurosciences, 21(5), 188-194.

Slocombe, K. E., Waller, B. M., & Liebal, K. (2011). The language void: the need for multimodality in primate communication research. Animal Behaviour, 81(5), 919-924.

Steels, L. (2011). Modeling the cultural evolution of language. Physics of life reviews, 8(4), 339-356.

Számadó, S., & Szathmáry, E. (2006). Selective scenarios for the emergence of natural language. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 21(10), 555-561.

Wells, G. (1994). The complementary contributions of Halliday and Vygotsky to a “language-based theory of learning”. Linguistics and education, 6(1), 41-90.



How to Cite

Tetty, M. (2020). Theory of origin of languages. Macrolinguistics and Microlinguistics, 1(1), 13–22. Retrieved from