Human beings are unique in their use of language. Only humans have the innate, hardwired ability to employ a large vocabulary of words with a complex grammar to create language itself. Linguistic abilities are surprisingly uniform across the entire human species, and all normal human beings learn to speak the language of their native community.
Many theories exist concerning when and how language began, and because there are no fossil records related to the earliest linguistic development, the true beginnings of spoken language are lost in time. Early cultures believed that language was a gift from the gods, and the origins of language are an integral part of creation myths throughout world mythology. Ironically, the diversity of language is usually seen as a curse - a punishment for human arrogance or disobedience – a belief best exemplified by the "Tower of Babel" passage in Genesis, in the Hebrew Bible.
Although some scholars assume there was a primitive language system dating as far back as two million years, fully developed language is thought to have been an evolutionary innovation of Homo sapiens, which facilitated the spread of the species around the globe. Many scientists believe that at some point in their evolutionary development, humans developed larger and more sophisticated brains that allowed for the development of language, although there is no agreement on when this occurred. Richard Leakey, the noted paleoanthropologist, suggests that Homo sapiens did not originally possess the necessary anatomy to produce language until 300,000 years ago, while Steven Pinker, the cognitive scientist, argues that because all modem humans have identical language abilities, language must have emerged with the first appearance of modern humans about 200,000 years ago.