January 20, 2015
woman speaking on telephone

A famous account in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, says that all people on Earth originally spoke the same language. However, when these people made plans to work in concert to construct the tower in Babylon that elevated their own superiority over their deities, God thwarted those efforts by giving them different languages and sending them away from Babylon. In some translations, God intended to confuse the people.

Did humankind have just one language in its history? Linguists and historians cannot answer this question because there simply is not enough data on the origins of language. Experts have proposed several theories about the formation of language and human communication systems. Perhaps primates imitated sounds and grunts they heard from other animals. Perhaps they babbled until repetition gave individual sounds meaning. Historians cannot know for certain, although linguists study babies and their development with the hopes of shedding insight on the origins of language, words and sentences and whether our brains are hardwired for vocalization.

One prominent hypothesis about the development of language systems involves available tools and resources. Sharing information on tools and how to use them requires a mutual vocabulary, as does the practice of managing and protecting valuable resources such as food and shelter. Small tribes or communities living together for mutual survival would likely develop a method to comprehend each other’s words and gestures. Over time, words became vocabularies that developed into sentences. Syntax took on meaning. However, various groups of humans that lived in isolation from others developed completely separate vocabularies. Linguists point to certain peoples and the adaptation of their language based on environment. For example, the Eskimos have an extensive number of words to describe snow because it greatly affects their lives. Other cultures have many words for camels or rice, depending upon their culture.

Thus, these tribes, adapting in isolation, agreed on words for their food and tools and developed methods to communicate how resources would be managed in the group. However, with migration came the confusion of trying to interact using completely different lexicons. Some languages merged and integrated. Some were conquered and died out.

Migration and trade amongst people of different languages has a difficult history. Currently, the world enjoys instant communication across the globe – and language differences play a critical role in the international marketplace. Some experts wonder if several languages will dominate in this global environment at the expense of other, lesser-known communication systems. The notion of a universal language hails back to the story of Babel, but in practicality, attempts at a modern, universal language have failed so far. Esperanto is one example. It has a following, but has not made in-roads into major societies.

In the Internet age, the prospect of a single language may seem probable; however, the Internet, through email and social media has developed an extensive graphic language such as emoticons and text abbreviations. What about the spoken language itself? Linguists suggest that languages evolve far too quickly for just one to exist globally.

Spoken communication will always remain the primary method of sending and receiving messages. Interpreting may present challenges, but magicJack will make the mode of speaking to one another efficient and cost effective.

MagicJack is a device with a phone jack on one end and a USB connection on the other. The user simply plugs the magicJack device into a high-speed Internet router or a computer, and it works like a typical landline telephone to place local and international phone calls. Travelers take magicJack all over the world to place free international calls to the U.S. and Canada. In addition, they can send one to relatives and friends in other countries. This gives them a U.S. phone number, and they can place and receive phone calls for no charge.

Facilitating communication at a low cost is what magicJack does, and it will be integral to the next step in the development of international communication.