LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY
Eoanthropus to Anno Domini
In the beginning was the word. . . And even from the limited information now available to us, it seems most likely that not long after "the beginning," the word was stuttered, by someone.
Reference to "the word" implies speech as we know it today, the form and level of oral language expression that presumably has been much the same over the centuries of recorded history. Of course, we do not know what oral communication was like in those long, long epochs of prehistory during which mankind was developing its modern form. 1 However, we are constrained to assume that for thousands of years oral communication was rudimentary relative to speech as we know it today. Similarly, we also do not know when "true" speech (that is, speech as known today, presumably unchanged over recorded history) was first uttered on the face of the earth. We have only inferences drawn from anthropological study of human remains, and most of these remains are relatively modern in anthropological terms.
It is especially worth noting, then, that early written records contain no description of what speech was like. Evidently, even by this time the human ability to speak was taken for granted; the matter of speech per se did not command any special notice or interest. The extant statements on speech recorded in ancient history (see later) make reference only to its quality: good (valued, admired) speaking, in contrast to poor speech -- and speech defect.