Author : Steiner Rudolf
Title : The genius of language Observations for teachers
Year : 1920

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Introduction. In the beginning we are babblers. We are also citizens of the world, for during that first year of life we try out—at first tentatively and then uproariously—every sound and sound combination used anywhere in the world. We experiment with soft vowels, necessary for Polynesia; dramatic consonants, ready for the Czech Republic; sounds that are heard only in furthest Mongolia; even, perhaps, tongue-clicking like the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. None of them gives us any trouble. At the beginning we are geniuses of language. However, our babbling leads us through syllables to words. We begin to name the beloved, necessary presence that is mama or mami or ma-ma-ma, reaching out to her and to the others around us. The world begins to become our world; with our mother tongue we become citizens of a fatherland. Speech has now a social character. In our naming there is an immediate understanding of word and meaning; sound and object are one. How could our Mama be any other person, or Dog any other dog? “Adam gave names to all cattle and to the fowls of the air and to every beast of the field.” We were still in Adam’s paradise. Karl König tells us, “At this stage, speech awakens to itself and begins to unfold. . . . The child plays with speech and its words as if with the most beautiful golden balls that are thrown to him to possess.” ...