Where was human language born?

Apr 15, 2011 by

Anthropologists and geneticists alike believe that modern humans originated in Africa. But what about human language? Did it originate in Africa too? Was it “born” only once? And can we be more precise about where in...

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Languages and genes don’t always match — part 2

Feb 5, 2011 by

In the previous posting, I noted that the commonly held assumption that if the languages of two groups are related, the peoples must be related as well doesn’t always hold. As you can see from the chart below, the genetic tree...

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Ultrasound to study human sounds

Dec 6, 2010 by

Gone are the days when linguists simply listened to speakers of exotic languages, trying to figure out what it is they’re hearing. Today, new technologies are being used to study and document human speech sounds. From digital...

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Click away!

Jul 21, 2010 by

In recent years, click sounds received much attention in the popular press, where they have been touted as “exotic”. A colleague shared a story of an English-speaking white man from South Africa whose Zulu teacher would never...

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Lost Tribes in Africa — part 2

Jun 7, 2010 by

In the last posting, I discussed Ethiopian Jews; here we will look at two other groups in Africa that claim to be Jewish (and in some cases claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes). First, let’s look at the Yemenite Jews....

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Lost Tribes in Africa

Jun 4, 2010 by

In yesterday’s posting, I described a recent genetic study that confirms that Ashkenazi Jews come from the same general genetic pool as other Jewish groups: Sephardi and Oriental Jews. But what about other groups that claim to...

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