Human existenceWhy are words strings of vowels and consonants?
|The word "why" is absent in phonetics.
This science is as was since
the ancient Indians descriptive. Remarkably, there is no good theory
about the origin of the contents of human
vocalization. We know what we say—phoneticists have done the research.
But not why we say it—rather than make some other kind of
|I have a theory is quite simply. We make
the vocalizations we
do—our vowels and consonants—because they are easy to imitate. How they
are heard and how they are produced has some influence—but the critical
thing is that an individual—in particular a child—can hear and see them
pronounced and then automatically make copies with their own mouths.
|The property of imitability is critical
since unless children can do
this language would not exist. Language needs to propagate to
exist—that requires that hearing and seeing the vocalizations that make
its tens of thousands of words can jump between generations. That
creates an adaptive selection upon those vocalizations that are easiest
for children to mimic. That selection created the vowels and consonants
with the properties described by phonetics.