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”
A rather risky preprint at BioRxiv, Language evolution to revolution: the jump from finite communication system with many words to infinite recursive language was associated with acquisition of mental synthesis, by Andrey Vyshedskiy (2017).
There is overwhelming archeological and genetic evidence that modern speech apparatus was acquired by hominins by 600,000 years ago. There is also widespread agreement that behavioral modernity arose around 100,000 years ago. We attempted to answer three crucial questions: (1) what triggered the acquisition of behavioral modernity 100,000 years ago, (2) why there was a long gap between acquisition of modern speech apparatus and
… Read the rest “On the origin of language and human evolution”
Michiel de Vaan, from the University of Lausanne, has recently uploaded three of his papers published in recent years in the JIES on the works of Dutch linguist C.C. Uhlenbeck:
1. The Early C. C. Uhlenbeck on Indo-European, JIES 44/1-2, 2016, p. 73-80
Christianus Cornelius Uhlenbeck (1866–1951) was one of the leading Dutch linguists between the 1880s and the 1940s. He made his mark on a number of disciplines in descriptive and comparative linguistics, such as Basque, the indigenous languages of North America, Old Germanic and Sanskrit. In 2008, a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Netherlandic
… Read the rest “C.C. Uhlenbeck on the Proto-Indo-European homeland in the 19th century”
An interesting essay by Arika Okrent has appeared in Aeon – Is linguistics a science? It concerns the central position of Chomsky’s Universal Grammar to modern Linguistics, and revolves around a story in Tom Wolfe’s book The Kingdom of Speech (2016), Everett’s discovery of the Pirahã culture’s (and language’s) emphasis on the here and now: not embedding one phrase inside another, the simple kinship system, lack of numbers, and absence of fiction or creation myths. Some excerpts of the essay:
This looks suspiciously like defiance of a central feature of the scientific archetype, one first put forward by
… Read the rest “When linguistics does not seem to be a science”
No, I didn’t have a revelation today. I am just offering a little support exactly to what Dawkins and his Brights dislike, to show them extreme action causes extreme (re)actions. I’d like to play their radical game, too, offering some help in linguistics to those who have only naïve theories on the language of Eden.
These are the statements about the Adamic language and the Tower of Babel as Abrahamic texts, beliefs and traditions show:
- Adamic was the language spoken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Adamic is typically identified with either the
… Read the rest “From Adamic or the language of the Garden of Eden until the Tower of Babel: the confusion of tongues and the earliest dialects attested”