We’re still in Unit 6: Collective Learning and a big part of collective learning is communicating and teaching one another via language, so today I talked about the origin of language and writing. I found a great website by the University of Hawaii on one of their courses: An Introduction to the Study of Languages and made a slideshow based on the first few lessons. I also showed a number of videos on youtube about the origin of written language since we have a lot more data on that then we do on the origin of spoken language.
This is an interesting series of short videos, Thoth’s Pill, about the history of writing. I showed the first 3 but actually watched 5 or 6 myself. You can also watch the whole series in one long episode. If you’re studying Japanese or Chinese I suggest watching these, it had a lot of examples that explained where certain kanji come from.
And lastly, I showed a Ted-Ed video on How languages evolve.
For the activity, I had printed out the Sumerian cuneiform alphabet and had the kids put it in their notebooks and then write their initials or first name in their books. Then they had to make up their own symbols for the numbers 1 – 9 and for three things they wanted to barter with. I got this activity from the Middle Tennessee State University website on Teaching with Primary Sources.