A pidgin is a kind of quasi-language composed of the pieces of more than one language crunched together when speakers of different languages are forced to communicate. Pidgins vary from place to place depending on the languages involved. For example, English in combination with local languages have created several different pidgins around the world.

In some communities, a pidgin gives birth to a creole. If children grow up listening to a previously unconnected smorgasbord of words and phrases, those children will provide those words and phrases grammar, syntax and the other civilized accoutrements of communication. In a single generation, a creole is born. Strangely, this creole is not as unique as you might imagine.

Creoles born of pidgins across the planet use an almost identical grammar, syntax and language structure. It seems that great minds think alike, in this case revealing a universality of thought. But the roots of language suggest a deeper hidden source for this way of thinking. There is only one language in the world with deep structural similarities to creoles born of pidgins.

That one language is sign language.

Sometimes when watching people talk, I become mesmerized by the movement of people’s hands. It’s obvious when watching people on the phone. A show of hand displays for a person on the line that the talker cannot see. Some people exhibit astonishing skills at hand dance. How often are we aware of people with these skills? A genius gesturer could go through life observed, but never noticed.

Very soon keyboards will disappear. Computers will become savvy enough to interpret our idiosyncratic utterances and cameras will be able to decipher our subvocalizations. It’s only a matter of time before reading fades away. In less than one hundred years, world culture will return to one characterized by speaking and listening, as digitalization stores and retrieves everything we hear and say.

And so, another great circle of societal evolution will have looped around so that a beginning re-emerges as an end. The skills and strengths of aboriginals and third world cultures–auditory story-telling societies–will become the demanded aptitude of a world culture demanding creativity and facility in the spoken word.

It is not just a new language that finds itself emerging, like waking from a dream of the future, when a creole is born that can speak the ancient slang of hands. When two humans mate from bloodlines separated by prejudice or geography, the progeny often exhibit features of the ancestor the two parents last had in common. As the world turns toward those who are skilled in communication forms not encouraged for thousands of years, parents will be producing children able to communicate across these great divides.

Watch people’s hands and listen to the melody of their words. Doing so, we’ll be able to grasp both the future and the past.


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