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Coriat, I. (1929). The Oral Libido in Language Formation Among Primitive Tribes. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 10:95-97.

(1929). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 10:95-97

The Oral Libido in Language Formation Among Primitive Tribes

Isador Coriat

It has been observed that the earliest sounds made by children are the labials ('p', 'b', 'm'), because the labial muscles utilized to produce these sounds are the same as those manipulated in sucking. The origin of such early words as 'papa' and 'mamma' in the vocabulary of children can therefore be traced to the act of nursing, as the labial muscles used in the formation of the initial consonants 'p' and 'm' are also utilized for the purpose of oral gratification in nutrition (Hug-Hellmuth, Spielrein, Klein, Coriat). The philological viewpoint of the origin of speech agrees in its main features with the independent observations of psycho-analysis, that is, the earliest sound formations result from a physiological necessity (Jespersen).

Interesting light is thrown on this subject in a narrative of an ethnological expedition through the unknown jungles of the upper Amazon River. In a tropical wilderness in the least explored part of the earth there was discovered an aboriginal tribe of small and ugly savages (the Pogsas). Their culture was very primitive; they went about naked; canoes were unknown to them; and they possessed no knowledge of the art of weaving, basket-making, pottery, agriculture or of personal ornamentation.

In discussing their language, McGovern states:

The language of the Pogsas I found most extraordinary. It bore no resemblance to any of the ordinary Indian dialects and contained many metallic clucks which I found it impossible to transcribe.

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