“Discovering what’s universal about languages can help us understand the core of our humanity…” — Daniel Jurafsky
Language is Technology
In today’s age, we are focused on technologies like artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, robots, and recommendation systems. It’s easy to forget about one of the oldest and most complex technologies that we possess: language.
The world’s languages have been developed throughout thousands of years, and they are still evolving today. Impacted by our environment, possessed knowledge, and due to many more factors, we are still learning exactly how it works. One thing is for certain: if we are to create the best systems that can analyze human language, we must first expand our own knowledge on the subject.
Let’s dive in!
How Did Humans Develop Language?
There are over 7,000 languages spread throughout the world, and each one has an impact on the human brain that learns it. Each of the world’s individual languages are affected by various factors such as history, climate, and culture. In many ways, we can look at this as 7,000 different universes since each one molds the brain of the speaker and is fundamental to how they think.
In addition to expanding our knowledge regarding languages, we must also be careful not to apply the standards or biases we have from our native language to every language. Whether it’s aboriginal communities in Australia that use cardinal directions instead of left and right, or the Russian language which breaks colors down into more categories than English, there are many examples of how languages shape the way we think .
The Impact of Climate and Geography on Language
Linguists have long debated whether climate and geography affect language. However, recent studies are shedding light into just how extensively climate and geography have shaped our evolution and language.
In 2015, University of Miami (UM) linguist Caleb Everett and his team found that languages with complex tones, such as Vietnamese, or those that use three or more tones for round contrast, such as Punjabi , are more likely to occur in humid regions.  At the same time, languages with a simple tone, such as Norwegian are more likely to occur in desiccated regions, including both frigid areas and dry deserts.
One possible explanation that is supported by experimental data is that the inhalation of dry air causes dehydration in the throat and a decrease in vocal cord elasticity, which makes it more difficult to achieve those complex tones, further supporting the idea that sound systems of human languages are adaptive and influenced by climate.
How Do We Learn Our First Language?
Language was the first technology that allowed us humans to communicate with each other, share ideas, and dream. Globally, humans can learn any language when they are between the ages of 1 to 3 months from listening to parents and adults. It is not until just after we become teenagers that we become limited in our ability to learn languages easily.
As we get older and learn a specific language, brain changes occur and we begin to lose our ability to learn phonetic subtlety between that initial language and others. Everything we understand is in relation to what we already know. This is why it is much easier to learn a second or third language when we are younger. The older we get, the more knowledge we acquire, which can affect any new pursuits.
Creating New Languages
Languages are not just remnants from our past; they are technologies that are constantly evolving and continuously updating. In the 1980s, Nicaraguan Sign Language was developed unintentionally by Deaf children throughout schools in Nicaragua.  The initial language system developed by the adults focused on the teachers providing language instruction for lipreading, which proved difficult for the children. However, when the children were free to communicate with each other, they combined their simple gesture systems and spontaneously formed their own language, Idioma de Señas de Nicaragua (ISN).
No matter the language we each speak, our words help us to communicate and reveal who we are to each other. Soon we can reflect the power that languages carry in the form of keyword NFTs.
Which languages do you want to see reflected in our martketplace?
 “How Language Shapes the Way We Think,” Lera Boroditsky, Ted Talks, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKK7wGAYP6k.
 “Climate, vocal folds, and tonal languages: Connecting the physiological and geographic dots,” Caleb Everett, Damián E. Blasi, Seán G. Roberts, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10.1073/pnas.1417413112.
 “The origin of Nicaraguan Sign Language tells us a lot about language creation,” Carol Zall, The World, https://theworld.org/stories/2020-09-29/origin-nicaraguan-sign-language-tells-us-lot-about-language-creation