Ancient Greek ideas on speech, language, and civilization by Deborah Levine Gera

By Deborah Levine Gera

The resource and nature of earliest speech and civilization are puzzles that experience intrigued humans for plenty of centuries. This publication surveys historical Greek perspectives on those questions. It discusses the harmonious language of the golden age, the ability in which language was once first invented, and a few old "linguists" defined through Homer and Herodotus.

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Some of these philosophical languagea were based on sounds, that IS were phonetic tongues, meant to be sp oken, while others used 'real characters', that is, written or grap hic symbols which referred to things themselves rather than wor ds. ould, it was thought, be read by everyone, no matter what theIr native tongue. )" Thinkers who conceived such universal languages, men such as ComeniU8 and Wilkins, realized that existing knowledge needed to be compre­ hended, codified, and organized in order to create a philosophical language.

Iornlls 3 7 1 M ; Aristotle fr. ID Gatt 1967. 1 88-<). land. ,...... ,. ,.. MW . ope­ cial need for philosophy (and justice and temperlll

Ee loo 1 2: ' -6. J ubilee. nd cenl. BeE_e. Rubin 1 998. 309 with n . 16. I. The Nature of Language in the Golden Age Zl this description i s that ideally, in the best of all possible world. everyo ne (and everything) should be able to converse together. Tb; broadest possible speech community, with full communication between gods, men, beasts, and nature, is the optimal situation. It is possible that gods, men, and the various species of animals in the golden age each had their own individual languages, besides sharing a joint form of speech.

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