Tuesday, 7 August 2018


In a recent news item that escaped mainstream public attention, probably due to the focus given to the posturing of world leaders, it was reported that an important discovery had been made in the ancient Sterkfontein cave site, in the Province of Gauteng, South Africa.
A team of anthropologists specialising in linguistics, happened upon a vast array of wall inscriptions in a previously unexplored cave whilst searching for evidence of a primitive tribe that had relocated from the Kalahari Desert region some 700 kilometres west of Sterkfontein. The inscriptions were so well preserved, having been sheltered from light and weathering for well over 100,000 years, that the team were able to get clear details almost as if they had been written yesterday. They spent months on deciphering the individual sections and were surprised to find that there was a natural progression to the inscriptions and, rather than random blocks of ‘writing’, there was a sequence that formed a narrative. What was even more revelatory was the discovery that the inscriptions were by a hominid tribe that crossed the divide between Homo Heidelbergensis and Homo Erectus and the content indicated a much higher level of development and intelligence than anyone had expected. Linguists were able to discover that the tribe consisted of almost three hundred settlers who had lived in an area of the Kalahari Desert that in the modern era is known as Tshabong. Now thanks to newly developed linguistic software, the full transcript of the cave writings has been made available in a select number of scientific publications. The full collection of inscriptions is lengthy, the equivalent of a novelette, so for the purposes of this post, only a small sample has been included which, it is hoped, illustrates how important this discovery has been.

“Awright Dagga? How you doin’?”
“Good Teekay. You?”
“Cool. What’s that?”
Dagga glanced downwards and then raised his right hand. “That, my friend, is a thing for cutting stuff.”
“A what?”
“A thing for cutting stuff.”
“What... that?
“Yeah... and, it’s gonna change the way we live.”
“Err... yeah... okay, if you say so. But it looks like a thin bit of stone to me.”
Dagga held the object up and said, “Well, yeah, it’s made out of stone but look close. I shaped it using other stones. See, this end is sharp and this end is blunt. You hold it by the blunt end and use the sharp end to cut stuff.”
Teekay scratched his chin and said, “Right... but what’s it called? I mean, you can’t just call it a stone ’cos everybody will just think it’s... uh, another stone.”
“Dunno yet. I’m meeting up with the rest of the clan at the Henge and thought I’d ask Lexic to come up with a name. He’s good with words.”
“Yeah, I heard him and Dik is making something called a book with all them words wot he’s invented in it so we can talk better to each other. I’ll come with you.”

Dagga and Tekay headed off to the Henge where they found a throng of people standing around enjoying the last of the evening sunshine, for it was a record temperature not seen since the ice age, the last recorded record temperature.
“You a bit late this evening,” an older guy with a long beard said.
“Yeah, running late, Lexic. Been inventing something.”
“Inventing? What’s that? I don’t have that word in my notes. What’s it mean? I might use it.”
“I just made it up.” Dagga held up the long bit of stone and said, “I was clearing out the air vent in my cave… you know how they get clogged up with moss and that in this heat... them meteee ologists don’t like us gettin too hot. Anyway, this bit of stone wot was in vent came loose. Looked a bit different so I played around with it and made this.”
“Yeah, but he ain’t got a name for it yet,” Tekay said.
“What’s it do?” one of the men standing around asked.
“Well… it cuts things and, I dunno, can kill things. Gonna save us chasing round after them bleedin speedy things with the pointed horns and throwing stones at them.”
“Yeah… that don’t work,” said an exceptionally tall guy who was leaning on a rock. “Too bleedin fast to be caught for food.”
“Don’t despair,” Larjmac, “with this, one day you’ll catch them horny fast food and things will be different. It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.”
“Since what? What’s that?” Larjmac said, his brow furrowed in puzzlement.
“What’s what?” Dagga asked.
“Hang on,” said Lexic, “you can’t say that. You can’t have two words the same next to each other... that’s a new rule. Ask Mattmat here. Ain’t that right Matmatt?”
“Uh... s’pose it is,” answered a short chap who was fiddling with some beads strung around his neck. "Not too good with words, me. More better with sums."
"Sums? Sums what?" asked a young guy with a ready smile.
"Don't worry about it Dik," said Mattmat. "I'm working on it."
Larjmac raised a hand to interrupt and smiled at Dagga. “Anyway, I was only asking what sliced bread is. I mean, I never even heard of bread so dunno
what ‘sliced’ is.”
Dagga stared at Lexic for a moment. “Yeah, well it’s just a... a...”
Lexic shrugged. “Let’s call it a ‘turn of froze’. And don’t ask... I’ll sort it. “ He scratched his head and then said, “so, Dagga, this new invention of yours, we gotta give it a name... and by the way, ‘gotta’ is a type of chat wot me and Dik is... err, to use your new word... inventing, and we calling it ‘slang’ innit, so some people don’t av to communicate proper wot doanwanna, yeah. Anyway, I got a great name for your bit of stone. I’m working on words that rhyme and -"
“Rhyme?” Dagga said.
“Yeah, don’t worry about it now but I got this new word for a woman that you own and then it sort of just comes outta that.”
“What’s that word then?” asked Dik. “All these new words wot you keeps comin up with can be fusing.”
“You know... what I said this morning, Dik... member? I got a new word for a woman wot us men own? Named it after my own woman, Wyva, in her honour.... like I said, member, yeah? ‘Wife’... innit. And then I got ‘life’ and then ‘strife’ and then ‘rife’... which is rhyming innit, like singing wot will be words wiv, you know, people screamin an wailing an that. Not sure wot it’s I’m gonna use them lot for yet but how about... nife?”
“Uh... okay,” said Dagga. “I like it. An, if you got it spare...”
“Hold on a bit,” a young woman with short dark hair said. “My man Dik here has made words too. Wot bout his words wot he’s come up wiv?”
Lexic stroked his beard and said, “Don’t worry Chenerry, Dik and you will be recognizzed. I will make sure you get credit for Dik’s work. Maybe do more books, yeah.”
“Well, anyway, I like nive too,” said Teekay. “It’s different and I’m starting a thing called a shop so I could sell it for you.”
“Good idea,” said Larjmac. “What about we sell it for getting them fast horny things for food? We could do it together... call it... LarjmacsTeekay. What d’you think?”
“Hang on,“ said a young man who’d been sitting on a rock listening intently. “I’m the one that catches most of them horny things and brings them to yer caves. And I make clothes for you outta them skins. I gotta be in on any deal going on here.”
A woman named Lope stepped forward. “Cool it Max. Let’s use our brains here. Why don’t you and Teekay sort something? He’s starting a shop, you supply him with the stuff.”
Max looked slightly embarrassed. A woman speaking up for a man wasn’t going to do his image any good in front of the crowd, especially not a member of his family.
“I’m on it auntie Lope. I ready thought of that. I get it. I hunt the horny things and bring ‘em to Teekay. If Dagga’s new... uh, what you say it called Lexic?”
“Nive... I’m calling it ‘nive’,” Lexic said and shot a glance at Dik. “You still good with that mate?”
Dik nodded.
“Great,” Max said. “We in business.” He winked at Teekay who smiled.
Auntie Lope stepped forward. “Don’t forget me,” she said. “My idea... .”
Max, Dagga and Teekay nodded to one another and then Dagga said, “cool, yeah. No worries. “He glanced at Lexic. “We’ll get your name in there somewhere Auntie Lope. But we gotta sort them horny fast things first.”