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Pronunciation: glah-tah-gê-ni Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Glottogenesis, the origin of language. 2. The study of the origin of language.

Notes: Today's word is a synonym of glottogenesis: take your pick. Both come with adjectives and adverbs. Our word has glottogonic and glottogonically and its synonym has glottogenetic and glottogenetically.

In Play: Six basic theories of how language arose only in our species have emerged since the 19th century. The top three are:

  • The bow-wow theory saw early words as imitations of the cries of beasts and birds.
  • The pooh-pooh theory saw the first words as emotional interjections and exclamations triggered by pain, pleasure, surprise, etc.
  • The ding-dong theory claims that all things have a vibrating natural resonance that was echoed by man in his earliest words.
For the other three, click here.

Word History: Ancient Greek, like Russian yazyk and English tongue, doubled the word for "tongue", glotta, as the word for "language". Glottogony was recently created by combining glotta + goné "birth, offspring, generation". Greek inherited glotta (and its variant glossa) from PIE glegh/glogh- "spike" (hence "tongue"). It emerged in Serbian as glas and Russian golos "voice". Goné goes back to PIE gen-/gon- "bear, give birth", which we find in borrowings like generate, gynecology, misogeny. The PIE word came through the languages of our Germanic ancestors as kind, kin, and king and German Kind "child" as in kindergarten, borrowed from German Kindergarten "chidrens garden".

Dr. Goodword,

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