Skip to comments.Book presents evidence of human connections across Bering Strait land bridge
Posted on 07/05/2010 4:38:01 PM PDT by Palter
Research illuminating an ancient language connection between Asia and North America supports archeological and genetic evidence that a Bering Strait land bridge once connected North America with Asia, and the discovery is being endorsed by a growing list of scholars in the field of linguistics and other sciences.
The work of Western Washington University linguistics professor Edward Vajda with the isolated Ket people of Central Siberia is revealing more and more examples of an ancient language connection with the language family of Na-Dene, which includes Tlingit, Gwichin, Denaina, Koyukon, Navajo, Carrier, Hupa, Apache and about 45 other languages.
In 2008, Vajda aired his hypothesis at a Dene-Yeniseian Symposium in Alaska organized by James Kari of the University of Alaska Native Language Center.
Vajdas 67-page article, presented at the February 2008 symposium, is featured in The Dene-Yeniseian Connection, a just-released joint publication of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of Anthropology and ANLC.
The 369-page book includes an additional 17 other papers either presented at the conference or solicited by the books UAF editors: Kari, a professor emeritus of linguistics, and Ben Potter, an assistant professor of anthropology.
Extensive travel and research
Vajda, now director of the Center for East Asian Studies at WWU in Bellingham, was trained in Slavic languages but became interested in Ket in the late 1980s, when he came across a book in Russian about the near extinct language in Siberia.
His interest grew, and over the years he has engaged in extensive research, meeting Ket speakers twice in Germany, in southern Siberia and in Ket villages along the Yenisei River in central Siberia.
To reach the remote Ket area from Bellingham, Vajda traveled via six airplanes, three trains and a 4-1/2 hour helicopter ride that sometimes barely cleared the tops of the Siberian spruce forests.
Of the 1,200 Ket people, only about 100, all older than 55, still speak the language.
In 2004, Vajda wrote a small Ket language grammar and is gathering materials for a larger book.
New way to see prehistory
The importance of studying a disappearing language goes far beyond a personal linguistic interest, Vajda explained.
Its a new way to understand human pre-history before there were historians to write it down. Isolated languages like Ket have developed features that are very unusual and interesting, and they help us to understand the human mind and human language ability.
We linguists should not be the focus of attention here, Vajda added. What is important are the languages and especially the Native communities themselves.
Vajda takes no credit for coming up with the Asian language connection.
People developed the beginnings of these ideas even 300 years ago, and in 1923 someone made the specific claim I am arguing for. My work builds on vocabulary comparisons made by other linguists in the late 1990s as well.
The strength of the new book, Vajda said, is that the editors brought together a lot of related international studies of connections with the Old and New World.
This book goes beyond linguistics, he said. Language relatedness carries with it other non-linguistic ramifications, and they should be related too.
Breathing life into history
In addition to linguists, the publications multiple authors include archeologists, anthropologists, and human geneticists who are all looking at the same problem and same hypothesis.
I hope people will see this as a developing work and if this hypothesis is correct, there will be support and more evidence for it.
This is not the last word; its the beginning of a multi-disciplinary study of the Dene-Yeniseian link, Vajda said.
The papers in this volume raise fascinating questions. This has opened the floodgates to a whole new arena of integration of the different disciplines folklore, archaeology, genetics and linguistics, said the archaeologist. We can work out the implications together.
The vast majority of Native peoples in western subarctic Canada and Alaska are Na-Dene and before Vajdas work, there was no definitive link with any other group in the Old World, he said.
Normally, the archeological record doesnt speak, he explained. But with this deep language connection, an understanding of how prehistoric people viewed the spiritual world, how they categorized the natural world, and their customs might be revealed.
Then we can breathe life into the ancestors of the Yeniseian and Na-Dene people, Potter said. There is the potential: that together, scholars from many disciplines can begin to reconstruct the lifeways of these people from stone tools, genetics, and now linguistics, and help understand the journey that brought them from Old World to the New.
Jive and bridge, ping. For catalog.
Is that that long bridge to nowhere./s
Thanks Palter!Research illuminating an ancient language connection between Asia and North America supports archeological and genetic evidence that a Bering Strait land bridge once connected North America with Asia, and the discovery is being endorsed by a growing list of scholars in the field of linguistics and other sciences. The work of Western Washington University linguistics professor Edward Vajda with the isolated Ket people of Central Siberia is revealing more and more examples of an ancient language connection with the language family of Na-Dene, which includes Tlingit, Gwich'in, Dena'ina, Koyukon, Navajo, Carrier, Hupa, Apache and about 45 other languages.Oh brother -- those are the least diverse of the North American tribal families, because they came over long after the "land bridge" was gone, and got here by boat. Can't believe this joker wasn't called on that crock.
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Did anyone ever doubt it?
With hard science opening such possibilities as DNA comparisons, a case can be made that the soft sciences are passe, other than as a make-work for for Liberal academics.
One of the more interesting groups affiliated with them turn out to be the AZTEC.
The folks speaking languages with 5 tones in Mexico are probably pretty directly connected to the ancestors of the Ket ~ to wit, the Thai, and without further information it's not possible to tell if that means the Chinese affinity group that moved South into Thailand only 1600 years ago, or the earlier Chinese resident group itself.
I’m no expert, and I’ll leave it to someone more informed than I to confirm it, but I’m given to understand that our Alaska Native language speakers can communicate with speakers of Apache, and vice-verse, each in their own respective native language.
In addition to the plain fact that old Europe has receded in economic and cultural importance compared to the US and Asia, for a topic such as this, an Amero-centric map will allow us to see the subject matter more clearly.
"The oldest human remains found in the Americas were recently "discovered" in the storeroom of Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology. Found in central Mexico in 1959, the five skulls were radiocarbon dated by a team of researchers from the United Kingdom and Mexico and found to be 13,000 years old. They pre-date the Clovis culture by a couple thousand years, adding to the growing evidence against the Clovis-first model for the first peopling of the Americas."
Of additional significance is the shape of the skulls, which are described as long and narrow, very unlike those of modern Native Americans.
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Interesting, the blank spot in the Northern Hemisphere coincides quite nicely with what would be the zone of maximum destruction from a boloid(s) strike around Lake Michigan and to the north of it 13,000 years ago. Time to post the Firestone book.
The Aztecs came into the lake region where they settled about 200 to 300 years before the Spaniards found them. They apparently came down from the north of Mexico, and were of a very savage/primative tribe called the Chichimec. Perhaps they Chichimec were related to the very savage Apaches of southeastern US.
When I studied some Aztec (Nahuatl) in a linguistics class in Mexico City, we were not made aware that it was a 5 tone language. Were you referring to other languages in Mexico which might use 5 tones (such as Mayan, Tzotzil, Tarahumara, etc)? I thought that was characteristic of Chinese. Can you give me more details. Nahuatl does have some interesting characteristics: The tl consonants used together, infixes (in addition to prefixes and suffixes), the use of a 20s counting system (preserved to some extent in French), and one word for green and blue (perhaps something that would originate in a snowy land?).
When I took linguistics in Mexico City, Nahuatl was referred to as a “Uto-Aztecan” language, referenceing the Ute indians in the US.
That leads to a lot of confusion between blue and green. Red is the main thing ~ being able to see a campfire 3 times as far away as your average human is probably a major survival factor.
Now, regarding the 5 tone languages in Central Mexico, your basic fundamental Chinese structure has 8 tones. Through time they've merged several in most of the languages.
Still, tonal structures are not unique to Chinese ~ on the other hand, Chinese people seem to have a gene that produces a protein that improves the handling of "tone" in language. The "word" goes one way, and the "tone" goes another way, and the brain is able to process things faster.
I believe the Yaqui are the same as the Apache.
Are you saying that some far northern people have significantly fewer cones that see blue, this would certainly help other things stand out in the extreme blueness of frozen lands?
I would still like to know what Central Mexican languages have 5 tones, as we definitely were not told this when we studied Nahuatl. Could it have been the Tlaxcallans who were enemies of the Aztecs and contributed more than 100,000 warriors to Cortez’s fight since they wer tired of being eaten by the Aztecs? Incidentally, I was told in 1958 that there were a million Nahuatl speakers, half of whom spoke NO other language.
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