Words This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

June 9, 2011
Words. The sounds they make when spoken, when written. Sometimes, when I hear someone writing, I can tell what word they are writing, just by the rhythm of the scratches.

I just don’t understand language from a logical standpoint of origin. How could someone point at a tree and say, “Tree”, and everyone agreed that yes, that thing is a tree, without having the word for tree yet -- or for thing, for that matter. So they couldn’t say, “that firm, tall rough trunk with dipping branches and waxy green surfaces soaring along is a tree.” So, how do those words develop?

Once naming started, it must have taken off like wildfire—all the cavemen running around, pointing at rocks, screaming “Stone!” grabbing their wife, shouting, “Woman!”, whatever sound their throat and tongue created. These cavemen, as foolish as they must have been acting when they started to name things, were making the biggest evolutionary leap.

People will argue, disputing the archeological fact that it’s because of opposable thumbs, so we can use tools, therefore distinguishing us from apes.

No. Words and language make us human.

We are the only creatures in the whole word who can communicate. Yes, boss lions have a particular roar to exert dominance. Owls have a distinct hoot to claim prey- still not language. We are the only ones who made that step.

How, though? We are the most argumentative of any animal kingdom. No other animal fights with its compatriots as viciously as humans do. No other animal hunts its own kind like prey.

How on earth did we, debaters who are constantly bickering, create words?

We must have argued, beat each other over the creation of words. But somehow we came up with the same understanding of the world- through words.

We must have agreed, at some point. All of us, agreed, agreed on words and their meanings. We didn’t fight, or we wouldn’t have language we have today.

Now, in modern times, we are fighting over words again. Over the meaning of loyalty, of borders, of life, of God.

But we came up with those words. Why can’t we agree on how to define them?

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