Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Phoneme Study Pinpoints Origin of Modern Languages

Alice C. Linsley

Scientists agree that the point of origin of modern humans is Africa. Evidence in support of this theory is found in DNA studies, climate studies, and linguistics.

As early as 200,000 years ago humans began to move out of Africa. Another major movement came around 120,000 years ago. Subsequent movements happened between 80,000 and 70,000 years ago, and between 20,000-10,000 years ago. This last period involved Proto-Saharan Sumerians, Nilotes and Kushites. The most recent migration took place around 6000 years ago.

Genetic research indicates a common African ancestor for the Chinese about 80,000 years ago.

Quentin Atkinson of Auckland University in New Zealand believes that the point of origin of modern languages is somewhere in the southwest of Africa (the region of the Khoisan). The 2011 report, which appeared in Science, caused something of a sensation. Michael Cysouw published a commentary in Science which argues that this neat "Out-of-Africa" hypothesis for the origin of language is not adequately supported by the data presented. Atkinson's phoneme study can only be traced to about 10,000 years ago.

According to this theory, the phonemic complexity decreased as human populations dispersed farther from their point of origin in Africa. As can be seen in the map above, the further away from Africa a language is spoken, the fewer distinct phonemes it has.

Dr Atkinson believes that every language in the world developed from a prehistoric 'mother tongue' first spoken in Africa tens of thousands of years ago.
  • 500 languages traced back to Stone Age dialect
  • The further away from Africa a language is spoken, the fewer distinct sounds it has
  • English has around 46 sounds, while the San bushmen of South Africa use a staggering 200
  • Study finds speech evolved 'at least 100,000 years ago
The findings suggest that human speech was a reality at least 100,000 years ago, far earlier than previously thought.

Related reading: The Afro-Asiatic Dominion; A Scientific Timeline of Genesis; The Nile-Japan Ainu Connection; DNA Evidence of the Kushite Expansion; Is Hebrew an African Language?; Migrations Out of Africa


ofgrace said...

Interesting study. It strikes me as being a bit counterintuitive to much of Evolutionary theory that posits the simple evolving into more complex forms. It seems, at least phonemically, the opposite is the case here.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Precisely. The opposite is the case in genetics also. The greatest genetic complexity is found in African populations and the farther from Africa the less genetic diversity.

Unknown said...

Hello Alice, I admire your work and it is a fundamental part of my research. I am a researcher who speaks Spanish in Argentina. I'm trying to carry out a philological study about the Yuezhi Kushan ethnic group: in order to propose the use of the glyph "Sho" in the inclusive language, a case of neologism in Spanish speakers. By the way, It is possible that in any moment Guishuang means "honorable pair" through chinese sense? That's my thesis. I would need first of all to know the oldest origin of the suffix "ku", if it were not the whole syllable "kush". If the latter is the case that predominates then I need to know what "-an" means. As I said, your references are my Bible and I appreciate that your Blog exists. My name is Amelis, father's name anagram of Ismael (in tune to all the information with names for "Y"). Thanks!