Recent article on The Conversation, The Roman dead: new techniques are revealing just how diverse Roman Britain was, about the paper (behind paywall) A Novel Investigation into Migrant and Local Health-Statuses in the Past: A Case Study from Roman Britain, by Redfern et al. Bioarchaeology International (2018), among others.
Interesting excerpts about Roman London:
We have discovered, for example, that one middle-aged woman from the southern Mediterranean has black African ancestry. She was buried in Southwark with pottery from Kent and a fourth century local coin – her burial expresses British connections, reflecting how people’s communities and lives
… Read the rest “On Latin, Turkic, and Celtic – likely stories of mixed societies and little genetic impact”
Open access Population Size and the Rate of Language Evolution: A Test Across Indo-European, Austronesian, and Bantu Languages, by Greenhill et al. Front. Psychol (2018) 9:576.
Summary (emphasis mine):
What role does speaker population size play in shaping rates of language evolution? There has been little consensus on the expected relationship between rates and patterns of language change and speaker population size, with some predicting faster rates of change in smaller populations, and others expecting greater change in larger populations. The growth of comparative databases has allowed population size effects to be investigated across a wide range of language
… Read the rest “Population size potentially affecting rates of language change”
New article (behind paywall) Language continuity despite population replacement in Remote Oceania, by Posth et al., Nat. Ecol. Evol. (2018).
Recent genomic analyses show that the earliest peoples reaching Remote Oceania—associated with Austronesian-speaking Lapita culture—were almost completely East Asian, without detectable Papuan ancestry. However, Papuan-related genetic ancestry is found across present-day Pacific populations, indicating that peoples from Near Oceania have played a significant, but largely unknown, ancestral role. Here, new genome-wide data from 19 ancient South Pacific individuals provide direct evidence of a so-far undescribed Papuan expansion into Remote Oceania starting ~2,500 yr BP, far earlier than previously
… Read the rest “Language continuity despite population replacement in Remote Oceania”
An interesting special issue of the journal Language Evolution has appeared, dedicated to Ancient DNA and language evolution.
Also, check out the preprint at BioRxiv, Geospatial distributions reflect rates of evolution of features of language, by Kauhanen et al. (2018).
Different structural features of human language change at different rates and thus exhibit different temporal stabilities. Existing methods of linguistic stability estimation depend upon the prior genealogical classification of the world’s languages into language families; these methods result in unreliable stability estimates for features which are sensitive to horizontal transfer between families and whenever data are aggregated
… Read the rest “Language evolution and language change related to ancient DNA”
Interesting new article From Proto-Slavic into Germanic or from Germanic into Proto-Slavic? A review of controversial loanwords, by Noińska Marta and Rychło Mikołaj in Studia Rossica Gedanensia (2017) 4:39-52.
Germanic loanwords in Proto-Slavic have been comprehensively analysed by both Western and Eastern scholars, however the problem of borrowings in the opposite direction received far less attention, especially among Western academics. It is worth noticing that Viktor Martynov (1963) proposed as many as 40 borrowings and penetrations from Proto-Slavic into Proto-Germanic. Among these, there are nine (*bljudo, 40 Marta Noińska, Mikołaj Rychło *kupiti, *lěkъ, *lugъ, *lukъ, *plugъ, *pъlkъ, *skotъ,
… Read the rest “From Proto-Slavic into Germanic or from Germanic into Proto-Slavic? A review of controversial loanwords”
Preprint at BioRxiv, Migration, acculturation, and the maintenance of between-group cultural variation, by Alex Mesoudi (2017)
How do migration and acculturation affect within- and between-group cultural variation? Classic models from population genetics show that migration rapidly breaks down between-group genetic structure. However, in the case of cultural evolution, migrants (or their children) can acculturate to local cultural behaviors via social learning processes such as conformity, potentially preventing migration from eliminating between-group cultural variation. To explore this verbal claim formally, here I present models that quantify the effect of migration and acculturation on between-group cultural variation, first for a
… Read the rest “Migration, acculturation, and the maintenance of between-group cultural variation”
A new paper at PNAS, Evolutionary dynamics of language systems, by Greenhill et al. (2017).
Do different aspects of language evolve in different ways? Here, we infer the rates of change in lexical and grammatical data from 81 languages of the Pacific. We show that, in general, grammatical features tend to change faster and have higher amounts of conflicting signal than basic vocabulary. We suggest that subsystems of language show differing patterns of dynamics and propose that modeling this rate variation may allow us to extract more signal, and thus trace language history deeper than has been previously
… Read the rest “Forces driving grammatical change are different to those driving lexical change”