Daniel’s Questions 8/8: Lonely language

8. Has there ever been an example in history, a single human has developed an own form of writing down thoughts/information due to a lack of understanding surrounding language or a mother tongue e.g. due to some disability?


5 thoughts on “Daniel’s Questions 8/8: Lonely language

  1. I’ve heard of several cases of this, and also heard it suggested in this case. Whether a code, cipher, or artificial language, it very well could be a “one off”. Klaus Schmeh, in book, “Nicht zu Knacken” (in German) has a chapter on James Hampton. Hampton was an artist, but seemingly uneducated, and came up with reams of writing in his own, unique, and so far unbreakable code. Dennis Stallings is a researcher of Hampton.I think there are many other cases.

  2. But maybe I’m a bit off topic with that suggestion, because it fits much of your criteria, it does not necessarily completely, in that I do not know if Hampton had a disability.

  3. I’ve stumbled across James Hampton before. Though he is only roughly related to what came to my mind. My question is:
    Is a brain able (or even probable) to develop a “language” on its own when it is for whatever reason not adressed with language during childhood, be it for hearing impairment, some sort of authistic mental disability or Mowgli-style lack of social contact.
    I am aware that there have been cruel experiments on infants at various times in history, based on similar questions, though without usable results.

  4. I’m not sure, but I think the Nicaraguan Sign Language was created “from scratch” by deaf children themselves. It’s doesn’t exactly meet the “lonely” part of the question, but it’s related to the inherent power in humans to create languages spontaneously. I don’t want to go off topic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the language of the VM had a similar origin; although I don’t know what happened to the two-scribes hypothesis, if the purpose of the book was sharing information then a NSL-like origin doesn’t sound too far-fetched – it’d be written instead of gestured.

  5. Hi bruix,

    this might be true for quite a few sign languages (if not all?).
    Elmars summarizing headline (lonely “language”) was somehow a bit confusing or misunderstood. I’d say in a strict sense, a language needs 2 or more individuals to use it, being a form of communication. My question was referred to a single brain, developing a way to write down its activity (/thoughts) hardly or not at all influenced by a language system acquired from social environment.
    There is this hypothesis, that the Vms is written down by one person just for him/herself. If this is true, but statistical properties do not fit a classical (spoken) language, the question is, could written language-less “thoughts” fit the given statistical pattern (and do they even exist)?

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