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String theory explained?

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Anthony Sayer Anthony Sayer | 08:28 UK time, Saturday, 26 September 2009

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A blog ago, I suggested that your mind (well, mine as well) might be guilty of toying with words like monkeys toying with jewels - tossing them around for fun, enjoying the glint and glitter, but unaware of their value. That idea was a half-muffled snarl from something big that's been restlessly rattling the bars of my brain for ages - an idea spawned there years ago by reading George Mackay Brown's An Orkney Tapestry. The idea: Words grow in places. Like flora and fauna, they evolve in a single geographical locus. The sounds of the place shaped the sounds uttered by our human forebears living there. Over thousands of generations, these sounds matured into words. Human migration carried these words to new places, and the new places continued to shape them. If you were able to make a sound that 'said' danger, or delight, you were more likely to get lunch than be lunch. The emotional response to those sounds, be it fear or joy, became fused into the sound itself - like an emotional halo around the sound. An aura, as Mackay Brown might call it. Sounds that 'worked' survived into what we might now call language. Sounds lacking that power would be of little use, because they needed to carry meaning, and that meaning lies only in the emotional response evoked. So our ancestors learnt to communicate - now they could narrate stories, and plan actions - a powerful step forward. They could use these sounds to describe their world, and in doing so they found they had the power to trigger feelings in their companions - the feelings that had been fused into those sounds. Even if there wasn't a cause, a sudden danger for example, uttering that special sound that signified sudden danger triggered excitement, which in turn triggered a feeling of being alive, feelings of a remembered experience, a familiar sequence of events - then you would feel meaningful, feel that you belonged to the group, feel part of shared experience........Show Business had arrived, and was here to stay.

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