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The Evolution of Language


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A Rare, Isolated Script Invented From Scratch Holds Clues to The Evolution of Writing

Excerpt:

"The Vai script of Liberia was created from scratch in about 1834 by eight completely illiterate men who wrote in ink made from crushed berries," says linguistic anthropologist Piers Kelly, now at the University of New England, Australia.

"Because of its isolation, and the way it has continued to develop up until the present day, we thought it might tell us something important about how writing evolves over short spaces of time."

Excerpt:

Over the first 171 years of its history, the Vai script did indeed become increasingly compressed. The simplification occurred over generations of users; symbols with the highest complexity were simplified the most.

These changes are far from random, the research team explained. Languages pass a kind of natural selection process via memory and learning, where the hardest to recall features do not survive. 

5000 thousand years of various language development and it appears here is one that can be isolated into a smaller, intellectual petri dish for finding clues that may provide insights not a pronounced in other systems.

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