Help! Paleolithic stone-age language is coming out of my mouth!

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Heinrich Hundekok

Junior Member
Help! Paleolithic stone-age language is coming out of my mouth!

No kidding. It's coming out of your mouth too! You can't prevent it.

Ok, this sounds wild, but I've thought about this ever since I started studying language and litterature at the university some years back. If you think that I'm just beeing too silly with all this, then go ahead and tell me - you're probably right, anyway ;-D

But here goes...

Now, in order to be meaningful, any sentence - written or spoken, in any existing language - has to contain at least three things: a subject, an object and a verb.
A simple example would f.inst. be: "The man is building a time machine." In this case 'the man' is the subject, 'a time machine' is the object and 'is building' is the verb.

Pretty simple, huh? Now, the interesting thing here is the subject-part, so lets have a closer look at that. Now, The subject is always the acting part, the one that does something. Very often the subject is a concious live animate beeing (ie. a person) that acts upon a dead inanimate object, but it does'nt have to be this way.

Now, whats really funny here is that - as far as I can see - any word normally put under the "object" category fits into the "subject" category as well -and vice versa.


"The concious live man fell down onto the unconcious dead stack o' bricks"

and vice versa...

"The unconcious dead stack o' bricks fell down onto the concious live man."

...who by then would'nt be very concious or live anymore, but that's an entirely different matter. The main point here is that in our language, we treat dead inanimate objects the same way we treat live animate ones. You can't distinguish between dead and live things through speech.
Water "runs" the exact same way a guy doing excersize in the park "runs". The coffee cup "stands" the same way I "stand" in the queue at the supermarket. During a storm the trash-bin "flies" through the air just the same way a bird "flies".

In our language, dead inanimate objets have the exact same ability to act and do things as any living man, tree or animal. We simply do not distinguish between them. At least in any language that I know - please weigh in all you people from non-european or non english-speaking countries.

The man runs down the street - we assume that he does this because he wants to do so, that he does this as an act of will. But what about water that runs down the stream? Within the boundaries of our language, we can't say that it runs any differently from the guy in the park. We're forced by our language to use the same word in two "different" cases -there's no way around this folks. There isn't a word for running(animate subject) and running(inanimate object), it's the same word in both cases.

The water acts by running, exactly like when the cat acts by leaping or the man acts by running or engineering a timemachine. Almost as if any sort of action ever occuring always happened due to a force of will realising its wish to act.

Now funny thing is, the correct term for this would be animism.

Animism is thought to be the oldest - and most primitive - sort of religion. It is found among american indians and among many other "primitive" groups of people, living like we imagine having done in the stone-age.
The main point in animism is that all things have a "spirit" (not in a christian sense, though) - all things are alive. Al things have some sort of life, conciousness, what ever you feel like calling it... a spark of life in it.

Here in Europe animism's probably been killed centuries ago by more "advanced" religions, not least christianity. But the idea of animism is not really strange to modern people, some of you spiritual people in here may very well have an animistic view on the world.

But one thing's for sure - animism is all over our language - even today in the space age. We've shaped the world around us - even space - but we still haven't engineered our language to fit the time we live in. As far as language goes, we are still in the paleolithic stone-age.