bserves that the human body and brain are built in such a way as to make language an inborn quality, and something which just comes naturally because of the physical way humans are made. A second theory, which we could call the “social” theory, looks at the interactions between human beings, and incidentally also animals, and suggests that language is an advanced form of a cognitive/behavioural process. In order to determine how appropriate these two theories are in explaining the origins of language, it is important to look for evidence which supports either of these views, or evidence which suggests some other explanation.
When one considers the physical equipment that was needed for humans to begin speaking to each other, it is clear that there is a complicated mouth structure which can make sounds using air coming up from the lungs and friction or stops using lips, teeth, and tongue. Very similar physical attributes are present in quite a number of animals, including parrots and other birds which can mimic the human voice very closely. This is not true language use, however, because birds cannot hold a real conversation, beyond just repeating phrases they have learned to imitate. The sounds that speaking birds make are empty of meaning, and so they are just empty signs. This means that they can produce
The great apes have more idea of what language is, and a few have even been taught to communicate true lexical units and sentences through sign language even though they lack the physical equipment to make sounds that approximate human speech. The utterances that apes make among themselves may be a very rudimentary form of language but there is not the range of sound possibility that humans have. Apes have not developed sign language on their own, even though they have demonstrated the capability to learn it. These two examples of talking birds and signing apes show that partial language abilities are present in animals but that only a specific