Toward a Comprehensive Hypothesis
About the Development of Language
and the Human-Sense-Of-Time
And the way that we use, shape, mold and describe time, I submit, is also uniquely human. We have mathematically divided the day into 24 hours with 60 minutes per hour and 60 seconds per minute which is artificially computed by our man-made clocks which are now in sync with an atomic clock. While this works very well, our methods for dividing time and then keeping track of time are human inventions.
I believe that civilized time as we experience it today (which is continuous time or time as a continuum) evolved hand-in-hand with the development of language. However, to understand this development, the starting point (the point of departure from animal behavior) needs to be understood. Otherwise, the development of language in the genus Homo is hard to comprehend. The starting point is that animals live in the moment.
In a sense, there is only now, right now. As TS Eliot stated so well, "Except for the point, the still point, [of the now moment] There would be no dance, and there is only the dance. ...All is always now."
Although we adults live in a time continuum, modern people still have an important need to experience the moment. When we are in the moment, our senses are heightened and our experiences become more intense. The immediacy of the moment floods our being. This feeds a need of our animal nature to return to our roots. To feel fully alive we need to experience the now moment from time to time and I believe we must do so in quite primal ways. At rock concerts many people are swept up in the sound, rhythm and crowd excitement. Music and tribal gatherings are perhaps as old if not older than language. So these concerts are reminiscent of our primitive past. Sports events, especially team sports such as football and basket ball, allow a spectator today to become immersed in the moment of action, often shouting, yelling, and gesturing -- recalling, perhaps, primal memories of the hunt when we lived in the wild. And then, of course, is the most fundamental and primal of all human activities, sex. For many people during sex, time stops or seems to evaporate.
To conceive of time, we must use metaphors. Time is invisible; it is not even as tangible or apparent as air or wind. Since language generally uses spatial metaphors to describe time, I think that the metaphor of carving out an expanse of time from the narrow confines of the now moment is a good metaphor.
only when the clock stops does time come to life."
I have suggested that starting perhaps two million years ago early members of the genus Homo may have had an actual sense of time, an enhanced sense of time, just as some animals have an enhanced sense of smell. Their larger brains and unique prefrontal cortex led to their ability to master sequential operations and to make tools -- which required a sense of time. This sense of time then evolved, developed and expanded up until today. See my most popular article about this topic which has registered more than 6500 views and downloads.
Daniel Everett agrees that the unique part of the human brain, the prefrontal cortex, was critical for processes. sequences and planning. Yet he does not go one step further and say that it therefore must have played a part in the human concept of time -- although these processes. sequences and planning could not have occurred without a basic sense of time. Also notice that he says the ability to accomplish sequential actions and toolmaking prepared the brain for language -- which to my way of thinking means that a concept of time preceded the development of language.
From Daniel Everett's How Language Began, page 82 & page 96:
-- The growth of the prefrontal cortex, itself associated with toolmaking and sequential actions, helped to prepare the brain for language, by providing the cognitive firepower necessary for actions where procedures or improvised sequences are required.
-- The manufacture of tools requires planning, imagination (having an image of what the final tools should look like) and, at least eventually, communication of some sort for instructing others in how to make tools. The sequential operations call upon the prefrontal cortex and produce cultural selection pressure for more cortical horsepower, more smarts.
A recently published study by the top rated research University of Edinburgh in the UK stated that, "As far back as 40,000 years ago, humans kept track of time using relatively sophisticated knowledge of the stars." University of Edinburgh, Prehistoric Cave Art Suggests Ancient Use of Complex Astronomy, Sciencedaily.Com https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181127111025.htm
At some point when seasonal time was understood and accurately measured, timekeeping was seen as spiritual, godly, and perhaps even a gift from the gods. While we cannot say exactly when the following occurred, it provides clear evidence of the importance of time to early civilizations.
In the first book of the Bible (a sacred text to Christians, Jews and Muslims), in Genesis 14, (Common English Bible):God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will mark events, sacred seasons, days, and years."
In Greek mythology, Prometheus, the father of mankind, also taught men how to tell time from the stars.
Prometheus said "Listen to the miseries that beset mankind--how they were witless before and I made them have sense and endowed them with reason... [They] managed everything without judgment, until I taught them to discern the risings of the stars and their settings, which are difficult to distinguish." [ED: i.e., how to tell time and the timing of the seasons by the stars] This quote is from the ancient Greek play Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, 5th Century BCE (trans. Weir Smyth) http://www.theoi.com/Titan/TitanPrometheus.html
Man-made clock time is an essential part of the modern world. However, with man-made time we are increasingly removed from the natural cycles of the Earth and instead governed by the artificial clock. Today we operate on Industrial Time and we also live in an environment that is almost entirely man-made, i.e., manufactured by our industries. This industrial power, based originally on the clock, is now changing the environment of the entire planet. For example, today we move more earth with our machines than are moved by the natural forces of the Earth.
Today, for example, Miami Beach is looking as far as 70 years ahead in their development plans because of rising sea levels, instead of the usual 20 year plans most cities use. https://www.remiamibeach.com/citywide/high-marks-for-miami-beach-s-resiliency-program/
I think it is likely that both Daniel Everett's stages and mine will be broken down into smaller increments. So while I have suggested T2 as one stage, researchers might divide T2 into T2-A and T2-B etc.