Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Mother of All Languages. Modern languages may have all descended from a single ancestral tongue
Wall Street Journal ^ | 04/15/2011 | Gautam Naik

Posted on 04/15/2011 2:30:50 PM PDT by SeekAndFind

The world's 6,000 or so modern languages may have all descended from a single ancestral tongue spoken by early African humans between 50,000 and 70,000 years ago, a new study suggests.

The finding, published Thursday in the journal Science, could help explain how the first spoken language emerged, spread and contributed to the evolutionary success of the human species.

Quentin Atkinson, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and author of the study, found that the first migrating populations leaving Africa laid the groundwork for all the world's cultures by taking their single language with them—the mother of all mother tongues.

"It was the catalyst that spurred the human expansion that we all are a product of," Dr. Atkinson said.

About 50,000 years ago—the exact timeline is debated—there was a sudden and marked shift in how modern humans behaved. They began to create cave art and bone artifacts and developed far more sophisticated hunting tools. Many experts argue that this unusual spurt in creative activity was likely caused by a key innovation: complex language, which enabled abstract thought. The work done by Dr. Atkinson supports this notion.

His research is based on phonemes, distinct units of sound such as vowels, consonants and tones, and an idea borrowed from population genetics known as "the founder effect." That principle holds that when a very small number of individuals break off from a larger population, there is a gradual loss of genetic variation and complexity in the breakaway group.

Dr. Atkinson figured that if a similar founder effect could be discerned in phonemes, it would support the idea that modern verbal communication originated on that continent and only then expanded elsewhere.

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: epigraphyandlanguage; godsgravesglyphs; language; languages; linguistics
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-70 next last

1 posted on 04/15/2011 2:30:54 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Tower of Babel.


2 posted on 04/15/2011 2:31:44 PM PDT by hoosierham (Waddaya mean Freedom isn't free ?;will you take a credit card?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: hoosierham
blah, blah, blah....Invention is the mother of necessity.

All of a sudden because they could talk about it...longer arrows came to be?? or sharper arrows came to be??

Just love these folks...They can say anything they want....AND GET MORE GRANT MONEY!!!!

3 posted on 04/15/2011 2:35:46 PM PDT by Sacajaweau
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: hoosierham

That is funny.. When I was in college taking an anthropology class, the professor said no way lanquages developed from a single language..


5 posted on 04/15/2011 2:37:01 PM PDT by scbison
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
Of course they did. It was spoken by the Ancients.
6 posted on 04/15/2011 2:39:37 PM PDT by mad_as_he$$
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Blah blah blah may ... more blah blah blah could. Blah blah blah blah blah blah might ...blah blah blah exact timeline debated.

Nice map graphic. It almost adds authority. And yet, no one can not state with certainty how LATIN is actually pronounced. This are needs more taxpayer money to study.

7 posted on 04/15/2011 2:45:43 PM PDT by pyx (Rule#1.The LEFT lies.Rule#2.See Rule#1. IF THE LEFT CONTROLS THE LANGUAGE, IT CONTROLS THE ARGUMENT.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: scbison

There are some who also believe that in Eternity, the Redeemed will all speak Hebrew, i.e., God’s language. FWIW


8 posted on 04/15/2011 2:46:45 PM PDT by Tucker39
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Sacajaweau

LOL !


9 posted on 04/15/2011 2:47:43 PM PDT by pyx (Rule#1.The LEFT lies.Rule#2.See Rule#1. IF THE LEFT CONTROLS THE LANGUAGE, IT CONTROLS THE ARGUMENT.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Next thing, CNN—ABC—NBC—CBS all will be telling us that Barry’s ancestors werethe start of ‘language’.


10 posted on 04/15/2011 2:48:04 PM PDT by ridesthemiles
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: pyx
And yet, no one can not state with certainty how LATIN is actually pronounced.

Well, hell. Can't we go to LATVIA and ask?

/publik skool

11 posted on 04/15/2011 2:48:53 PM PDT by SIDENET ("If that's your best, your best won't do." -Dee Snider)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

They still have not “proven” that man came from the African continent, just pure conjecture. Remember “Lucy”? These so called experts, as one freeper pointed out need more grant money so they come up with the latest whack-a-doo theory and further their career by a few more years. I choose to believe in the Word of God and not some whatever professor in line for some tribute or money.


12 posted on 04/15/2011 2:49:13 PM PDT by Rockiette (Democrats are not intelligent)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

When the government asks me my race, I say “African American”, because after all, it is only a matter of when my ancestors left Africa.


13 posted on 04/15/2011 2:51:00 PM PDT by Uncle Miltie (0bamanomics: Trickle Up Poverty.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ridesthemiles
Next thing, CNN—ABC—NBC—CBS all will be telling us that Barry’s ancestors werethe start of ‘language’.

Nah... everyone knows algore invented language.

14 posted on 04/15/2011 2:51:18 PM PDT by farmguy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

We are all Egyptians.


15 posted on 04/15/2011 2:52:31 PM PDT by bunkerhill7
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

More Pan-Africanism here I see.


16 posted on 04/15/2011 2:53:52 PM PDT by Niuhuru (The Internet is the digital AIDS; adapting and successfully destroying the MSM host.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Rockiette

What a life to live. I’m tempted to go along and then start suggesting my own insane ideas and get myself some grant money.


17 posted on 04/15/2011 2:54:50 PM PDT by Niuhuru (The Internet is the digital AIDS; adapting and successfully destroying the MSM host.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
let's see...if you believe we all came from africa, what is the great astonishment that the root language might be from there??? duh
18 posted on 04/15/2011 3:03:05 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Rockiette
I find it ironically amusing that anyone would proffer the idea that anything “evolved” out of Africa when the entire continent is still mired in the 14th century.
19 posted on 04/15/2011 3:06:43 PM PDT by bitterohiogunclinger (Proudly casting a heavy carbon footprint as I clean my guns ---)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind; SunkenCiv

20 posted on 04/15/2011 3:08:03 PM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Chode
i guess it would also explain all the COMPLETELY different native jabberings in africa too...
21 posted on 04/15/2011 3:09:11 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

Comment #22 Removed by Moderator

To: SeekAndFind

I’m thinking we’re all native Babelonians.

Which, of course, explains television...


23 posted on 04/15/2011 3:11:58 PM PDT by EternalVigilance (If you don't see a leader, be a leader.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: pyx
And yet, no one can state with certainty how LATIN is actually pronounced.

Do you mean was actually pronounced? We have a pretty good idea. Frances Lord, a professor of Latin at Wellsley College discusses this issue in The Roman Pronunciation Of Latin: Why We Use It and How To Use It (Boston: Ginn, 1893).

24 posted on 04/15/2011 3:12:16 PM PDT by Fiji Hill
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Seems someone was way ahead of these people. I read in a book that has been around for a few thousand years that the whole world at one time spoke one language.


25 posted on 04/15/2011 3:13:45 PM PDT by Lees Swrd ("Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe and preserve order in the world as well")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind; Rockiette

All we can do is for these poor lost souls that initiate and believe this kind of garbage; that they find salvation in the gospel of Jesus Christ.


26 posted on 04/15/2011 3:13:48 PM PDT by rightly_dividing (1 Cor. 15: 1-4)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Chode
let's see...if you believe we all came from africa, what is the great astonishment that the root language might be from there??? duh

It is a No §¶¡+ Sherlock moment

What's the alternative? Occasionally groups of Humans way back in time just decided to create whole new languages out of the blue for no apparent reason?

27 posted on 04/15/2011 3:16:37 PM PDT by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Lees Swrd

Yeah!

We are all Proto-Babels!!!


28 posted on 04/15/2011 3:18:04 PM PDT by TruthConquers (.Delendae sunt publicae scholae)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: All

DUH ! Adam-Eve...same language.


29 posted on 04/15/2011 3:20:48 PM PDT by Einherjar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind; mamelukesabre; Trillian; agrace; 1010RD; calex59; TheOldLady; killermosquito; ...
This one is total rubbish. The whole world knows by now that evolution doesn't work for animals; it turns out not to work any better for human languages.

Simply too many things which no theory of human language evolution could begin to explain. For instance the IndoEuropean (Japhetic) and Semitic groups show no meaningful racial differences and could not plausibly have split up more then four or five thousand years ago; yet the languages are totally unrelated other than for a handful of borrowed words. By way of contrast, Slavic and Germanic languages split up three or four thousand years back and are still strongly related. Words for many if not most basic things (numbers, earth, air water, milk, wine, family members, knives, forks, spoons...) are highly similar. The weirdest thing in Russian to many people's minds is the simple word to go (идти), nonetheless, it turns out that English has entirely related words like iterate or itinerary, so that if you think "I iterate myself to the store" then a Russian saying "Я иду в магазин" doesn't seem that weird.

But no such relationships exist between any IE and any Semitic language.

Worse are the Baltic languages. Lithuanian for instance may contain a dozen or two dozen things you'd recognize as IndoEuropean roots, probably borrowed, but 99.9% of Lithuanian looks like it came straight from Mars. I mean, Lithuanians have blue eyes and yellow hair and have sat right there between the Germanic and Slavic worlds forever and by all rights their language should be halfway between German and Russian. But in real life, English is a whole lot closer to Russian than Lithuanian is and there's no explaining that via any theory of language evolution.

The basic reality is that the old Bible story of the tower of Babel comes closer to matching up with real evidence than any theory of language evolution does. What we actually see is what we'd expect if human communication had been via some entirely different modality until some very recent point, four or five thousand years back and not 50,000 or 500,000; and then, whatever that old system of communication was stopped working on a single day and never worked again afterwards, and the kinds of spoken languages we use now were devised out of dire necessity over a period of a hundred or a couple of hundred years.

Given that thesis, the only thing needed to explain the IndoEuropean/Semitic divide is that the two groups were living on opposite sides of the Caucasus mountains during that critical period of one or two centuries during which modern languages were being developed.

30 posted on 04/15/2011 3:23:06 PM PDT by wendy1946
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro

The late Dr. Gene Scott?


31 posted on 04/15/2011 3:24:51 PM PDT by Erasmus (I love "The Raven," but then what do I know? I'm just a poetaster.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

Comment #32 Removed by Moderator

To: scbison

You’re right, it is funny. A course I took on the history and derivation of languages said the same thing and that most languages appeared to have derived from ancient languages in the Indus valley. They lump the african phonemes together but don’t seem to account for the variations and development of individual languages and dialects based on small tribal groups of which there are many in africa. Are they saying that the Bushmen share the same language as central or northern african tribes or that the North African groups are not distinct from the central and Southern African tribes?


33 posted on 04/15/2011 3:36:05 PM PDT by RJS1950 (The democrats are the "enemies foreign and domestic" cited in the federal oath)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: wendy1946

Human language came from the elves, according to tolkien. I think.


34 posted on 04/15/2011 3:49:21 PM PDT by mamelukesabre (Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum (If you want peace prepare for war))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

An “evolutionary psychologist”...then it must be true. Did he have on a white lab coat? A white lab coat is always the final authority. And if he had glasses, well then, there’s just no arguing with that.


35 posted on 04/15/2011 4:00:29 PM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
the first migrating populations leaving Africa laid the groundwork for all the world's cultures

Except for arabic, which originated with the world's vultures.

36 posted on 04/15/2011 4:09:16 PM PDT by Hardraade (I want gigaton warheads now!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mamelukesabre
Human language came from the elves, according to tolkien. I think.

That's better than evolution. I mean, ANYTHING is better than evolution, including Voodoo and Rastafari.

37 posted on 04/15/2011 4:20:36 PM PDT by wendy1946
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill
Do you mean was actually pronounced? We have a pretty good idea

A slightly older friend in parochial school was in his third or fourth year of Latin when the curriculum switched from teaching ecclesiastical pronunciation (basically Italian) to classical pronunciation.

He mulled it all over, raised his hand and said, "Sister, I REFUSE TO BELIEVE that Julius Caesar said 'WANEY-WEEDY-WEEKY!'"

38 posted on 04/15/2011 4:25:54 PM PDT by Cincinnatus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill
Do you mean was actually pronounced?

Snappy retort... NOT.

When you correct others, please include a subject in your sentence. In this case, the word "it" would suffice. People in glass houses ...etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

39 posted on 04/15/2011 4:28:58 PM PDT by pyx (Rule#1.The LEFT lies.Rule#2.See Rule#1. IF THE LEFT CONTROLS THE LANGUAGE, IT CONTROLS THE ARGUMENT.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: qam1
makes ya wonder how much tax money went into that epiphany???
40 posted on 04/15/2011 4:31:47 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Cincinnatus

maybe julius caesar was pronounced hoolio kaizer?

ah-reev-ah-dair-chee and sigh-a-nar-a


41 posted on 04/15/2011 5:11:09 PM PDT by mamelukesabre (Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum (If you want peace prepare for war))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ..

· GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach ·
· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic · subscribe ·

 
 Antiquity Journal
 & archive
 Archaeologica
 Archaeology
 Archaeology Channel
 BAR
 Bronze Age Forum
 Discover
 Dogpile
 Eurekalert
 Google
 LiveScience
 Mirabilis.ca
 Nat Geographic
 PhysOrg
 Science Daily
 Science News
 Texas AM
 Yahoo
 Excerpt, or Link only?
 


Thanks martin_fierro, and great graphic btw.

Quentin Atkinson? Sorry, but I just can't get fired up about ideas promulgated by anyone named Quentin.
About 50,000 years ago -- the exact timeline is debated... They began to create cave art and bone artifacts and developed far more sophisticated hunting tools. Many experts argue that this unusual spurt in creative activity was likely caused by a key innovation: complex language, which enabled abstract thought. The work done by Dr. Atkinson supports this notion. His research is based on phonemes, distinct units of sound such as vowels, consonants and tones, and an idea borrowed from population genetics known as "the founder effect."
Quentin's work doesn't support these claims, its part and parcel of it, breaks no new ground, and is (like linguistic theory in general) grandiose and sweeping conclusions based on superficial observations, and bearing an uncanny resemblance to the initial assumptions. This OTOH is something I quite like: To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
 

· History topic · history keyword · archaeology keyword · paleontology keyword ·
· Science topic · science keyword · Books/Literature topic · pages keyword ·


42 posted on 04/15/2011 5:13:13 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Thanks Cincinna for this link -- http://www.friendsofitamar.org)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Uncle Miltie

How can you do that? Neither African nor American is a race. Is a Caucasian who moves from Africa to America an African American?


43 posted on 04/15/2011 5:32:37 PM PDT by CynicalBear
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: wendy1946

I was at a language camp in Norway and we went on a hiking trip. We came across an old guy that had a shack way up in the hills. The teacher (knew many of the Norwegian dialects) and the norwegian kids could only understand maybe 25% of what the old guy said.

The dialects will change from mountain valley to mountain valley but are still fairly similar. But this guy must have lived in the “Land that Time Forgot”.


44 posted on 04/15/2011 5:42:46 PM PDT by 21twelve ( You can go from boom to bust, from dreams to a bowl of dust ... another lost generation.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

It's not bizarre! It's the divine language! The ancient language! Spoken throughout the universe before time was time!


45 posted on 04/15/2011 5:47:23 PM PDT by COBOL2Java (Obama is the least qualified guy in whatever room he walks into.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

The Mother of All Languages. Modern languages may have all descended from a single ancestral tongue

And Obama can lie in all of them.


46 posted on 04/15/2011 5:50:22 PM PDT by COBOL2Java (Obama is the least qualified guy in whatever room he walks into.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tucker39

It wouldn’t be Hebrew. That’s post-Babel. It would be the Adamic tongue, pre-Babel.


47 posted on 04/15/2011 5:52:21 PM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Cincinnatus

Yep, that emasculated pronunciation killed Latin for me as well.

I cannot picture Elmer Fudd conquering anything.


48 posted on 04/15/2011 5:57:31 PM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: Fiji Hill

bump for later


49 posted on 04/15/2011 5:59:52 PM PDT by FrdmLvr (Death to tyrants)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Sacajaweau
"All of a sudden because they could talk about it...longer arrows came to be?? or sharper arrows came to be??

Nice display of ignorance, there...

Lithic technology is one of my specialties in archaeology. Try to teach someone how to make a Clovis point by only pointing and grunting.

Can't be done...

50 posted on 04/15/2011 6:13:59 PM PDT by TXnMA (America's most Orwellian oxymoronic acronym: "DOJ"...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-70 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson