That is the name of the book I made reference to in yesterday’s sermon when I was talking about theories of the first language spoken by our earliest ancestors. Several people asked me about in the maw of chaos that is coffee hour at the Cathedral. The book is great – here it is 10 in the morning and I am already looking forward to reading it tonight after basketball. In the chapter entitled First Words the author writes about the language that was spoken by the band of adventurous people who took the fateful step out of Africa into the rest of the world. The idea is that to be as advanced as they were they must have been able to communicate. There is of course no recorded evidence of what the language sounded like, and there are no archaeological remains, but genetic research, among other innovative research, gives us some insight. The part that really interested me was the research involving sign languages, especially ones that are developing, where we can see how they are being built. This is what I mentioned in the sermon as my story – the fact that gesturing seems to be something we are wired to do. I got some laughs when I mentioned that I am Greek and Italian – of course I am going to talk with my hands! But it is true. Think of this next time you are on the phone and gesturing and remember that the person on the other end of the line can’t see you.
Each culture also has its own particular gestures, while others seem to be universal. The small clusters of people who speak ancient Greek in southern Italy actually have hand gestures different than their Italian-speaking neighbors – these gestures are closer to those used in Greece. What a wonderful, interesting world in which we live!