This superior language theory led the 17th century Swedish scholar, Andreas Kemke, to assert that God spoke Swedish, Adam Danish and the serpent French; this in spite of the fact that the French Language had by that time acquired a certain image of being the preferred tongue of the educated after Latin.
But we are not concerned here with language origins and arguments over the superiority of one language over another. It is pretty clear that for a long time to come we shall continue to carry out disputatious over the divine origin, or invention or evolutionary theories of language origin. Like all issues which men have agreed to disagree on, language origin theories will continue to engage our attention. On the issue of language superiority usually linked to racial superiority, this will continue to be at the focus of attention of racial supremacists.
Perhaps, the development of future languages might give us a clue as to origins and global dominance of one over others which accounts for why some speakers of the one have an air of superiority over others. For even today, there are linguistic purists who believe that the United States and Great Britain are two close countries divided by a common language. This situation arises because the American Language or English is said to be somewhat different from the English Language spoken in Britain.
What our interest really is in this chapter is to point to the religious, scientific and nationalistic opinions that speak of diverse origins for man’s vehicle for communication. From all that we have said so far one thing is clear: we are yet to get to the end of the road in our sometimes self-opinionated postulations and speculations. There is as yet no definitive documentary evidence tracing language origin to any one civilisation or culture. At best, accounts from the Bible and other religious books to scientific (evolutionary) theories as well as historical and anthropological studies point to the fact that man is a communication animal (homo communicatus).
Basic Systems of Communication
In our world, we have both human and animal systems, the solar system, eco-system, political system, economic system, communication system and numerous other systems.
The human communication system is that in which the interdependent participants are engaged in information dissemination, reception and processing and meaning exchange in order to be able to transact with others and adapt to their environment. Through
communication these active participants create, acquire, transform, transact, re-order and make use of information in ways that enable them to achieve their goals.
The human communication system which is our major concern serves a number of basic functions from the biological to the intellectual. These functions range from the physiological, safety, belongingness to esteem needs satiation. And these can be broken down to courtship and mating, reproduction, sibship relations, socialisation, movement, information, self-defence, the establishment and maintenance of territories, acquisition of knowledge, self actualisation, promotion, publicity and advertising, domination of others, development, liberation and education.
These functions are carried out through the use of sight (visual communication), touch (tactile communication), smell (olfactory communication),taste (gustatory communication), hearing (auditory/vocal communication) and motion (kinesics).
The human communication system can thus be seen as involving the process by which they adapt to, organise with, link themselves to, exchange and share meaning with, interact and transact with or strive to establish a commonness with their world and with one another under various social, political and economic structures and conditions. This is achieved through the employment of the expressive and receptive skills of communication which become the guiding principles of human behaviour. Thus communication can be said to be a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behaviour.
In spite of its diversities, in this section, we shall limit our discussion to the basic forms of speech, sign, signal, symbol, writing/scribing, and pictograms.
Speech is generally regarded as the primary human communication skill and is said, by many sources, to mark the beginning of human communication. This assumption is derived from the ‘cries of nature’ theory of the origin of human language which indeed is reflected in the first cry of the newly born child.
Speech primarily distinguishes human beings from animals. It is conducted through a language system quite unique to man. It can be carried out by man alone, through intrapersonal communication or soliloquy. In speech, we express relationships, our culture, mood, attitude, emotions and knowledge of the world. This may be in the form of interpersonal, group or mass communication.
The beginning of speech lies in the psycholinguistic activities of thinking, knowing and using language to express our thought and knowledge. Speech is the primary communication or language activity which binds mankind in one cultural bond. Man has always depended on it in his cultural rituals — initiation, establishment and promotion of relationships and interpersonal communications. In conflict situations, speech has been used in promoting effective management of such situations as well as in reducing communication relationships. The failure of speech communication always leads to a state of tension and conflict as was the case in the 2003 Security Council and United States’ disagreement over the acceptable approach to weapons inspection crisis in Iraq. This failure led the United States and Britain to arrogantly embark on a unilateral violation of the territorial integrity of Iraq and subsequently overthrowing the Saddam Hussein Government in the most sophisticated and destructive warfare of the 21st century.
The absence of speech (silence) may be an indication of a denial of relationship. Even so, such a denial conveys its own messages which can form the basis for a new communication relationship. Speech is employed in a variety of disparate roles, for as Fromkin and Rodman (1978:185) have observed ‘You can make promises, lay bets, issue warnings, christen boats, place names in nomination, offer congratulations, sweat; give testimony’ as manifestations of speech. Rosenfield, Hayes and Frentz (1976) classify these various speech forms into two broad areas namely, the rhetoric of the forum and the rhetoric of the soul where speech becomes a mere rhetorical game.
Rhetoric of the forum refers to messages employed in the conduct of public affairs as in public communication /speech. The rhetoric of the soul is the employment of messages in the conduct of the various healing arts by example in spiritual communication (exorcism, libation, incantation, prayer etc) and televangelism.
The Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure regarded language as a ‘deposit of signs’. And sign is used in communication to represent a transmission, construct, or phenomenon which possesses an ‘acoustic image’ and also a concept through which one organisation or individual affects the behaviour or state of another.
Semiotics, a branch of communication, is concerned with the study of signs, codes and culture. But a sign is one concept sometimes confused with signal and symbol. Ashley Montagu, an anthropologist has offered a useful definition of sign. He says that a sign is a ‘concrete denoter’ possessing an inherent specific meaning, roughly analogous to the sentence: “This is it; do something about it”.
Tim O’Sullivan et al (1983) give the defining properties of a sign as follows:
It must have a physical form, it must refer to something (that is, have a referent) other than itself, and it must be used and recognised by people as a sign.
The ways in which signs are organised into codes or languages form the basis for the study of communication. A sign necessarily consists of a signifier and a signified. It is a mark with a meaning and an object, or symbol used to represent something as we have in sign languages.
In many societies, various signs are used to communicate specific meanings or messages. As we have already noted, signs are like denotative meanings of words while symbols are connotative meanings of the same words. Sign language is a common feature of all cultures and has developed out of a sign. It is a mode of human communication developed principally for deaf and dumb as well. Human beings sometimes communicate with pet animals through the use of sign language.
Some signs are natural while others are man made. Some previous culture-specific signs have become universal because of the extension of cultural influence through the mass media, religion, warfare, international trade and travel.
In Christendom, the cross (+) is a sign that represents Christianity or the Christian church; on a hospital vehicle it would signify an ambulance. The swastika represents Hitler’s Nascism while the crescent    represents Islam.
The African Bible in its glossary identifies sign as ‘a distinguishing mark, token, banner, omen, warning, ensign, proof’ and also ‘that which a person or a thing is distinguished from others and is known’. In the Bible, there are many instances when both the faithful and non-believers demanded for signs as proof of divinity of Christ as when the Scribes and Pharisees asked to see a sign from Jesus Christ (Matt. 12:38.). Still in the Acts of the Apostles 4:8 — 12, there is an affinity shown between the sign (the crippled man restored to health i.e., saved) and what is signified (all men who are saved in the name of Jesus). A sign is therefore a very important language and has great spiritual significance in the scriptures.
A trained car driver should understand the international driving codes which are represented on the highways by road signs. These signs usually mean the same thing in all countries except for a few local variants which nonetheless have universal application within national boundaries.
One important area where signs are used is in the mathematical sciences, mathematics, physics, chemistry etc. Mathematics uses signs and known rules which are restricted within its language system. Mathematics uses international codes which exhibit cross-cultural values and is easily understood by its closed circle of users for their restricted purposes.