Saturday, March 29, 2008

Navajo and Ket Are Cognate Languages

This Ket-Na-Dene connection is the first time a new world language group has been conclusively linked to an old world language group.

Comparative Linguist, Edward Vajda, says, "All known Yeniseic languages seem to be related at a time depth of about 2,500 years. The large number of cognates between them permits the reconstruction of much basic vocabulary, suggesting a proto-language spoken by mobile bands of hunter-gatherer-fishers in the boreal forests of northern Inner Asia."

Vajda is the director of the Center for East Asian Studies at Western Washington University in Bellingham. His research links the Yeniseic language family in central Siberia with the Na-Dene languages in North America. The Yeniseic family includes the extinct languages Yugh, Kott, Assan, Arin, and Pumpokol. Only the Ket language is spoken today and according to Vajda, this language is on the verge of extinction with less than 200 speakers, most over the age of 50.

The reconstruction of proto-languages through the comparative method has proven an excellent tool in investigating migration theories, especially when used alongside biological and archaeological findings.

This study identifies 36 cognates common to the Yeniseian family and the Na-Dene family.

"Linguistic evidence indicates that the Yeniseian family of languages, spoken in central Siberia, is most
closely related to the Na-Dene family of languages spoken, for the most part, in northwestern North America. This hypothesis locates the source of one of the three migrations responsible for the peopling of the Americas." 

Related reading: Ket-Navajo Connection in the News

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