In this episode, us answer the question, "Who developed words?" and also we find out why the alphabet end in x y z.
On but Why us let friend ask the questions and also we aid find the answers. Among the points that many of you space curious about is language. How we speak, why we speak and also what we speak.

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There room 7,097 life languages, according to human being who examine languages. These human being are usually referred to as linguists.

But that number is shrinking all the time due to the fact that many languages have just a grasp of speakers. So some linguists speak there room really more like 6,000 talked languages still approximately right now. However the bottom heat is the language is component of what provides us human. So in this illustration we focus on linguistic communication.


We turn Winlon"s question over to a man named john McWhorter. He is a linguist who writes books and also gives talks and teaches at Columbia college in new York City.


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"I think that most people who research language would say in regards to who developed the very first words, that would have actually been the very first people. And the first people who were precisely like us were in Africa, probably around 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. Castle would have actually been the ones who first came up v words for things and also then castle would have actually passed those top top to their children, and also that would have kept going come you and also me.

"But what you"re really asking is exactly how did castle come up through the words. That"s a difficult question due to the fact that there are 6,000 language in the world and also they all have various words for things, and also we can"t go earlier in time so we will most likely never recognize what those first words were. Some people have said that it must have had to perform with imitating the sound that things make. That might work with some things, however most points don"t do sounds. It"s hard to to speak what would have lead human being to come up with some type of word like "sun" or "tree," or something prefer "already" or "maybe." It"s a mystery. We"ll never recognize why they come up through those words, but we know once lock did, there seemed to have never to be any much more people that didn"t have any type of words.


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Credit photograph courtesy Winlon's mom.
Winlon, 6, stays in Atlanta, Ga. He wants to recognize who developed words.

"Language changes all the time. Choose the clouds in the sky are always moving, the sounds are always transforming a small bit. The word "tree" provided to it is in pronounced much more like "tray," however you could be hear something an ext like "tree," so you"re going to grow up speak something in between. Then the person who listens come you talking and also learns exactly how to talk might say it more like "tree." nice soon, the word is "tree." The word transforms bit through bit. If you imagine that happening to every word in every language all the time, you understand why one language could never remain the means it was. It"s always inching along and an altering to a brand-new language.

"If you have actually a bunch that people and one bunch go in one direction and one bunch go in another, then not only are everyone"s languages changing, however languages adjust in all sorts the ways. Take all of those transforms happening to every word all the time and also it way that you"re walking to gain two different languages, one on one next of the mountain and also one ~ above the other side."


"Why is the alphabet in the order that it is?" -Nephele, 8, Burlington, VT

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"The answer to this question is one the is just no fun. There is no reason. The stimulate of the alphabet has never made any sense. Every we recognize is the the people who invented the first alphabet put the letters in a specific order. Once they happen those letters on to various other people, and also those world passed the letters on come us, we kept the letter in that order. "The finest I have the right to do is come say that x y and z space hanging down at the end because with the an initial alphabets you didn"t require an x or a y or a z. Those letters weren"t needed in the language those civilization spoke, but as the alphabet acquired passed down to civilization speaking other kinds the languages, people wanted brand-new letters: x, y and also z to be those letters.

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"Even currently x and z feel sort of strange. They are just in so many words, they are sort of the peculiar letters. They were created later and also it seemed organic to tack them on to the end." --John McWhorter, Columbia University

7097 languages way 7097 methods to to speak hello! listen to the full podcast to hear few of them.