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  • Imagine Alice traveled back over 50,000 years

  • to find her distant ancestor, Bob.

  • Now, up until this time, human culture

  • was relatively unsophisticated --

  • utilizing the same primitive stone tools

  • which went unchanged for thousands of years.

  • But somewhere around 50,000 years ago,

  • something interesting happened.

  • And nobody knows, for sure, why.

  • There was a sudden explosion of diverse cultural artifacts,

  • including instruments for making music, new tools,

  • and other forms of creative expression.

  • Humans developed the ability

  • to externalize their inner thoughts.

  • They began to communicate using language.

  • So, Alice begins her search by looking for water.

  • She knows that human and animal populations

  • tend to migrate towards and along rivers,

  • which are the life blood of ecosystems.

  • Eventually, she comes across an interesting marking --

  • Bob's handprint.

  • This marking contains very little information.

  • Simply that he was here, and could possibly return.

  • Alice knows Bob is equally intelligent.

  • He can communicate orally --

  • although his culture has not yet developed

  • the ability to read or write in [its] native language.

  • At the time, the universal written language was art.

  • So she finds natural materials around her,

  • to paint him a picture, in case he returns.

  • She renders an animal she is tracking,

  • hoping this will offer a clue

  • about the direction she is traveling in the future.

  • Our ancestors used natural materials

  • to create pictorial representations of their reality.

  • Here is an actual cave painting --

  • from around 30,000 years ago --

  • found preserved deep inside Chauvet cave, in France.

  • Similar renderings are found in the caves of Spain as well.

  • A common theme among these ancient paintings

  • [is] animal forms, as well as the human hand --

  • perhaps as a signature, a story, or a ritual calling.

  • When Bob returns to the waterfall, he finds her painting,

  • and proceeds towards the river,

  • where he thinks she might be.

  • When he arrives, he does not find her --

  • though he finds a sign that she was here before.

  • He decides to paint her a picture,

  • explaining where he is going next,

  • which is half-way up the river, towards the setting sun.

  • He has little time to paint the picture, as night is approaching.

  • Therefore, he needs a fast way to visualise his message.

  • He thinks about it for a moment,

  • and realizes his message only contains

  • three distinct mental objects:

  • 'middle' -- 'river' -- 'west'

  • So he decides to use simplified pictures to represent them.

  • For 'river,' he draws a symbol

  • which resembles [a river's] natural form --

  • known as a 'pictogram' -- which is a drawing

  • that resembles the physical object it represents.

  • Pictograms are an important step in the evolution of writing.

  • Here is a ceremonial slate palette, found in Egypt,

  • dated before 3,000 BC.

  • The surrounding scene shows a struggle

  • between civilized humans

  • and the wild and ferocious animals.

  • However, it's difficult to draw pictures

  • of abstract concepts -- such as 'calm,' 'old,' 'dangerous' --

  • or, in Bob's case, 'middle.'

  • For this, he draws a line with a box over the middle.

  • It represents 'half way.'

  • This is known as an 'ideogram' --

  • or a conceptual picture of an abstract idea.

  • Here is an example of the same symbol

  • on an ancient Chinese bronze inscription.

  • For the idea of 'west,'

  • he decides on a picture of the setting sun.

  • Now he does something interesting.

  • He combines these individual symbols --

  • in terms of their meaning -- to create a message.

  • Meaning plus meaning equals new meaning.

  • He leaves this in hope of Alice finding it.

  • Some of the earliest artifacts of this symbolic merging

  • are found in ancient Mesopotamia -- now modern Iraq --

  • home of the Sumerians.

  • This is the birthplace

  • of many of the world's earliest civilizations.

  • Here we find clay accounting tablets, which are some of

  • the oldest written documents ever found --

  • some dating before 3,000 BC.

  • The rectangular tablets record the payments in cattle,

  • shipments of cattle to shepherds for fattening,

  • and gifts of cattle as an offering.

  • Notice that, instead of drawing a picture of ten sheep,

  • they draw a symbol representing '10' --

  • using small notches --

  • and another symbol representing 'sheep' or 'donkey,'

  • meaning, simply, '10 sheep.'

  • We call this 'proto-writing.'

  • Finally, Alice returns to the base of the river,

  • and finds Bob's message.

  • She interprets the meaning correctly:

  • 'half-way, west, down the river.'

  • So, she marches down river, towards the setting sun,

  • and eventually they finally meet.

  • Over time, Bob learns to speak Alice's language,

  • allowing them to use the same oral language

  • to communicate shared concepts and ideas.

  • This gives them an idea --

  • the root of a more powerful written language.

  • It starts with something very simple -- writing her name.

  • She disassociates the sound from the picture,

  • for her name, Alice.

  • (Alice ... Al -- ice)

  • She combines the mathematical symbol for 'all'

  • and the picture of 'ice.'

  • 'All ice.'

  • 'al-ice.'

  • Notice her name has nothing to do

  • with the individual symbols.

  • Sound plus sound equals new meaning.

  • This is known as the 'Rebus principle.'

  • A great example of this was found in Egypt,

  • along the Nile river.

  • Dated to aroung 3100 BC, it contains some of the

  • earliest hieroglyphic insciptions ever found.

  • 'The Narmer Pallette' depicts

  • the Egyptian pharaoh, 'Narmer.'

  • On the back, we see him to the left of a kneeling prisoner,

  • who is about to be struck down by Narmer --

  • who we see standing tall, wearing a crown.

  • What we are looking for is on the other side.

  • Between the two bovine heads at the top,

  • we see an inscription of his name.

  • It's written as a fish and a chisel --

  • which translates to 'Nar Mer' --

  • 'Narmer.'

  • Two sounds -- separated from the pictures --

  • together, giving new meaning --

  • a key development in the history of written language.

  • But before they could advance

  • towards what we know of as an 'alphabet,'

  • something had to happen.

  • They needed to save time.

Imagine Alice traveled back over 50,000 years

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B1 中級

書き言葉の起源 (貨幣の言語: 2/16) (Origins of Written Language (Language of Coins: 2/16))

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    Olivia Lo に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
動画の中の単語