The dominant explanations for the origins of language are inadequate for the very reason that they are essentially utilitarian and materialistic. It would be better to assume what language itself tells us. It is innately meaningful because its poetry enables us to perceive deeper structures of reality.
Do words "emerge from the cosmos, expressing its soul" or is language merely a utilitarian evolution from the grunts and hoots of our primate forebears? In The say of the land Dr Mark Vernon argues for the Romantic theory of the origin of language, with support from Tolkien's fellow Inkling Owen Barfield, poet Simon Armitage and English palaeobiologist Simon Conway Morris.
In a world flooded with biased science, fake news, social engineering, predatory marketing, manipulative facebook memes and the like, our ability to make sense of things is increasingly overwhelmed. Words do as much harm as good, in the search for truth. If, however, words have soul as Mark Vernon suggests, perhaps a closer alignment between our material perceptions of reality and their implicit meanings will help us find the signal of truth within the fog of lies and manipulations.
Dr Mark Vernon is a practicing psychotherapist with a PhD in ancient Greek philosophy, and other degrees in physics and in theology. A former Anglican priest, his latest book is A Secret History of Christianity: Jesus, the Last Inkling and the Evolution of Consciousness. He writes for radio, newspapers and magazines and is co-host of the long-running podcast the Sheldrake – Vernon Dialogues.