Birdsong and language

In the Indian state of Kerala, the Brahmin priests apparently chant their prayers in something that sounds utterly unlike language but quite like birdsong, according to a post on this blog. The prayers have been passed on from generation to generation for thousands of years and might even pre-date language, according to this article.

Birdsong is perhaps the nearest thing to human language and music in non-human creatures. Maybe language and/or music first developed partly as a result of our distant ancestors imitating the birds.

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This entry was posted in Language.

0 Responses to Birdsong and language

  1. michael says:

    The Brahmin prayers may even predate the development of multi-cellular organisms… And maybe language first developed partly as a result of our distant ancestors imitating the movement of the planets relative to the milky way with their tongues.

    Simon, I like your blog a lot. I find your posts generally fun and informative. But this post seems to only have a tenuous connection to reality.

    Now, if you could get us some recordings of those prayers to listen to, that would be different…

  2. Nik says:

    How could it possibly be known if it *was* that old? Besides which, it seems highly implausible that anything could’ve been preserved for the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years that languages have been around.

    More plausible, if it does indeed resemble birdsongs, is that the monks deliberately set out to imitate birdsongs.

  3. Simon says:

    It does seem a major leap from saying that the chants resemble birdsong to speculating that they might pre-date language. This is an example of over-enthusiastic journalism and imagination based on little or no evidence, something that seems quite common when discussing language-related matters.

  4. Miranda says:

    any recordings of this available?

  5. Simon says:

    Unfortunately there don’t seem to be any recordings, but I’ll post them here if I find some.