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Ancient Greek Ideas on Speech, Language, and Civilization$
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Deborah Levine Gera

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199256167

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199256167.001.0001

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The Invention of Language

The Invention of Language

(p.112) 4 The Invention of Language
Ancient Greek Ideas on Speech, Language, and Civilization

Deborah Levine Gera

Oxford University Press

This chapter surveys a wide range of texts which tell of human’s ascent to civilised life and their acquisition of language as part of the process. It discusses that in these progress narratives, speech was seen either as a gift from the gods, the brainchild of a single inventor, or the product of a joint effort by a society of men. It conducts a study of these inventors, followed by a close examination at some detailed accounts of the various stages of language development. It investigates the place assigned language within the overall development of civilisation, and the parallels between the invention of language and the discovery of other arts, in particular fire.

Keywords:   civilised life, language acquisition, gift, gods, inventor, society, language development, civilisation development, arts

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