E.H. Gombrich on the Origins of Language

“Do you know what else these cavemen invented? Can’t you guess? They invented talking; they invented having real conversations with one another, using words. Of course animals also make noises—they can cry out when they feel pain and make warning calls when danger threatens, but they don’t have names for things as human beings do. And prehistoric people were the first creatures to do so. They invented something else that was wonderful too: pictures. Many of these can still be seen today, painted on the walls of caves. No painter alive today could do better. The animals they depict don’t exist anymore, they were painted so long ago. Elephants with long thick coats of hair and great, curving tusks—wooly mammoths—and other Ice Age animals.”

Excerpted from: Gombrich, E.H. Trans. Caroline Mustill. A Little History of the World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.