Human existence

Why are words strings of vowels and consonants? Bookmark and Share
international phonetic alphabet 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 vocalization.

child speaking 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.

mouth 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.

Medical Hypotheses 1998 50(2):167-73 "Speech phones are a replication code" abstract   pdf

Noetica vol 2 1998  Open Forum Issue 9 "Mirror Neurons and the Motor Theory of Speech"

Evolution of Language: Fourth International Conference, 2002, March 27th, Harvard University  abstract: "Mirror neurons and articulations, and the origin of speech"
The evolution of vocal imitation.2000 words