Skip to comments.Aboriginal Language Had Ice Age Origins
Posted on 12/13/2006 3:00:25 PM PST by blam
Aboriginal language had ice age origins
ABC Science Online
Wednesday, 13 December 2006
A researcher has suggested that the origin of Aboriginal language can be traced back to a time when Australia and New Guinea were one (Image: Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Water)
Aboriginal languages may be much older than people think, argues a linguistic anthropologist who says they originated as far back as the end of the last ice age around 13,000 years ago.
This challenges existing thinking, which suggests Aboriginal languages developed from a proto-language that spread through Australia 5000 to 6000 years ago.
The key to the new hypothesis is prehistoric Australia's single land mass 13,000 to 28,000 years ago, when New Guinea and Tasmania were still attached, says Dr Mark Clendon in the journal Current Anthropology.
Clendon says the continent, known as Sahul, was relatively densely populated on the land bridge connecting northern Australia to New Guinea, now separated by the Arafura Sea.
The other populated area was along what is now Australia's eastern seaboard.
The two population groups were separated by a vast, cold, windswept, arid stretch of land that covered most of the continent, says Clendon, who was with the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education when he published the research.
The eastern group spoke a tongue that became what is known today as Pama Nyugen and includes languages like Pitjantjatjara, Yolngu and Warlpiri.
And the Arafuran group spoke another language used today in northern Australia today.
"What I'm suggesting is that Pama Nyugen and non-Pama Nyugen languages go back about 13,000 years to when there was a land bridge between New Guinea and Australia," he says.
Until now, the reason why these two Aboriginal language groups are so different, each with a distinct grammar and vocabulary, has been a mystery.
Around 11,000 years ago what was the Arafura plain was flooded by rising seas as the ice age ended.
This caused the northern people to migrate into either New Guinea or to northern parts of Australia.
Meanwhile, increased rainfall and warmer temperatures made inland parts of the continent more habitable and sparked a westward migration of eastern dwellers.
This introduced their language group to more central areas of Australia.
Both groups maintained their distinct languages, Clendon says.
His hypothesis provides an alternative picture to the traditional view that 6000 years ago a single proto-language spread from the Gulf of Carpentaria around Australia, eventually giving rise to existing Aboriginal languages.
"We know about changes in climate and sea levels at the end of the Pleistocene era," Clendon says.
"I'm suggesting the way languages are configured in Australia today are a result of those changes that happened at the end of the ice age."
Provocative but unconvincing
Writing in a reply to Clendon's article, Professor Nicholas Evans, an expert in Aboriginal languages from the University of Melbourne, describes Clendon's hypothesis as "fresh and provocative".
However, he says there are flaws in the argument, including that there is only weak evidence of similarities between southern New Guinea and northern Aboriginal languages.
Evans says he remains to be convinced about Clendon's proposal.
"[But] it adds a welcome alternative to a field in which we are still a long way from having any clear picture of the unimaginably long human occupation of Sahul," he says.
Two groups may have populated Australia
ABC Science Online
Thursday, 30 November 2006
New genetic evidence suggests Australia may have been populated by two separate groups of humans, one arriving via Papua New Guinea, the other via Indonesia, a researcher says.
But more work is needed to confirm the idea. And not all scientists agree that these latest results shed new light on the long-standing debate on how humans colonised Australia.
Dr Sheila van Holst Pellekaan, a molecular anthropologist from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, will present her research at a Australian Archaeological Association conference in Melbourne next month.
Previous genetic analysis shows that modern humans took two migration routes out of Africa 100,000 to 150,000 years ago, she says.
One group went north into Europe and Northern Eurasia, the other along the coast via Saudi Arabia, India and Southeast Asia.
Van Holst Pellekaan analysed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from Aboriginal people in western New South Wales and Central Australia.
She says she found evidence of two ancient genetic groups that appear to be linked to these two migration routes.
Van Holst Pellekaan says some archaeologists argue there was more than one founding population of Australia and her research is the first genetic evidence that could be used to support this.
It's possible that some Australians came in from the north via Papua New Guinea and the other took a more southerly route via Indonesia, she says.
Archaeologist Dr Colin Pardoe, who is speaking at the conference on a related topic, disagrees.
He believes the diversity of early Australians could have arisen from one group that came in from Southeast Asia and then diversified as it adapted to different environments.
Pardoe is not convinced van Holst Pellekaan has identified two founding groups.
"Are these two totally distinct groups that came in or are they representatives of one major group that came in that has all that diversity within it?" he asks.
This is a possibility that van Holst Pellekaan accepts.
"The idea of two founding populations is speculative," she says. "I can't prove it either way."
Pardoe says more DNA samples from other places such as the Indonesian islands and Papua New Guinea would need to be analysed.
"We need to understand the pattern of variation in these large groupings to see where Australians are coming from," he says.
Professor Peter Brown of the University of New England in Armidale also says further data is required, including studies of Y chromosome DNA, as mtDNA only reflects the maternal line.
Van Holst Pellekaan says some Y-chromosome studies of Aboriginal people from Central Australia have found a connection with India, but there have been no comprehensive studies of this type.
Genetics reflects long Aboriginal history
Van Holst Pellekaan says despite the links with the global lineages that came out of Africa, the Australian groups are quite different from those shown in samples from Papua New Guinea, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Malaysia.
"[People] have to have been in Australia for a very long time for that diversity to generate. We're saying at least 40,000 years," she says.
Van Holst Pellekaan accepts the idea of tracing Aboriginal people back to Africa can clash with some cultural beliefs, which she respects.
"I simply present it to them as a scientist's way of seeing how the language groups might have related to each other," she says.
"I can only give them the information I come up with. I don't ask them to believe it."
So silly when we know for a fact, thanks to the brilliant creation science conducted by Bishop Ussher that the world wasn't created until 9 AM Oct 3, 4004 BC.
So silly when we know for a fact, thanks to the brilliant creation science conducted by Bishop Ussher that the world wasn't created until 9 AM Oct 3, 4004 BC.October 23 (don't ask me why I know this : )
"Aboriginal languages may be much older than people think, argues a linguistic anthropologist who says they originated as far back as the end of the last ice age around 13,000 years ago."
Very easy language to learn - fill your mouth with icecubes before talking.
Evidently the sudden rise in the sealevel was so scary that it caused people to forget their grammar.
That's very nice, but there isn't a single citation of linguistic evidence in the article.
One language, Yolngu, seems to have the common mother-father words
b^pa - father
\^][i - mother, (& waku's waku's daughter)
\apipi - mother's brother
m^ri - mother's mother and her brother
That was on a Sunday I believe.
Lets be "specific" when we talk about facts please.
You don't want to look silly yourself do you?
Heck, you did not even mention that James Ussher was an Irishman.
What have the Irish ever done anyhow?
The Irish may have saved civilization, but what have they done for us lately? And anyway, what's civilization worth if you can't get a decent bagel? You can thank the Jews for the bagel.
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Here's a quote from page 77:The Lost Civilization of the Stone Age"The proposition that Ice Age reindeer hunters invented writing fifteen thousand years ago or more is utterly inadmissible and unthinkable. All the data that archaeologists have amassed during the last one hundred years reinforce the assumption that Sumerians and Egyptians invented true writing during the second half of the fourth millennium. The Palaeolithic-Mesolithic-Neolithic progression to civilisation is almost as fundamental an article of contemporary scientific faith as heliocentrism. Writing is the diagnostic trait, the quintessential feature of civilisation. Writing, says I.J. Gelb, 'distinguishes civilised man from barbarian.' If Franco-Cantabrians [i.e. Ice Age inhabitants of parts of France and Spain] invented writing thousands of years before civilisation arose in the Near East, then our most cherished beliefs about the nature of society and the course of human development would be demolished."
by Richard Rudgley
"Forbes and Crowder's justification for reviving the idea that writing may perhaps be traced back to the Ice Age is based on the fact that a considerable number of the deliberate markes found on both parietal and mobile art from the Franco-Cantabrian region are remarkably similar to numerous characters in ancient written languages extending from the Mediterranean to China."The table Rudgley produces from Forbes and Crowder is much more extensive than the one found in Settegast, but the idea is the same. From pp 67-68:
"Petrie... made an extended study of Predynastic... and made it quite clear that... they were, in fact, a separate system that existed before and then later alongside the hieroglyphs. Petrie was also aware of the similiarities between the Egyptian signs and those found elsewhere in the Mediterranean... He also expressed the belief that because of their similarity of form with the signs that were later used in alphabetical scripts, these early signs may well have something to do with the origins of the alphabet... Winn could only bring himself to describe the Vinca signs as pre-writing, but for Gimbutas, and for others such as Harald Haarman... they are the real thing... most of those who had previously characterized the Tartaria tablets and analogous Vinca signs as genuine writing did so on the mistaken assumption that they were later than Sumerian and could always be neatly 'explained' as somewhat pale imitations of Near Eastern intellectual innovations. We have also seen how many scholars, on realising that the Vinca signs were simply too early to be derived from Mesopotamia, abruptly dropped the question... For others, who had tried and failed to bolster the traditional chronology for prehistoric southeastern Europe by invoking the Tartaria tablets as a refutation of radiocarbon dates, the tablets were simply dismissed as meaningless jumbles of signs."
There is a pdf file of the map available at the URL...
9am? God doesnt get up very early in the morning
Then an Irish Jew probably deserves the most thanks of all.
I always thought the Australian Aborgines came from what is now present day Indonesia. It is possible that Ainu language could be related to Australian Aborgine.