29.04.2011

The origin of language: Is Africa the home to all languages?

Languages in Africa seem to have a greater variety of sounds than other languages, new study says.

    Where does language come from? The "Pooh-Pooh Theory", one of the most common theories of how language began, holds that it began with spontaneous cries of emotions such as pain. But according to Wikipedia most of the hypotheses about the origin of language are highly speculative. But just as DNA tests have confirmed that the cradle of humanity lies in Africa, the world's languages originated there as well and then spread across the globe, a new study suggests.


    Until now, the majority of studies tried to determine the origins of language by analyzing the words used within a given language. New Zealand researcher Atkinson chose instead to compare phonemes - the consonants, vowels, sounds and tones that are the simplest elements of language, rather than entire words. Analyzing more than 500 languages of the linguistic database "World Atlas of Language Structures" Atkinson found a clear decrease in diversity with increasing distance from Africa. The results of the study show that the number of phonemes as well as the genetic diversity in Africa is the greatest and decreases over Asia and Europe to America and Polynesia. Therefore Atkins assumes that genetic and phoneme diversity decreased as humans migrated out of Africa and began colonizing other regions. According to the study, with the spread of humans around the world, both the DNS and their language changed.

     

    Previously language was believed to be some 9000 years old. Based on Mr. Atkins finding human language could be between 50,000 and 100,000 years old.  Based on Mr. Atkinson's study published in Science Journal abstract another fascinating idea emerged: the findings seem to indicate that all human languages originated from one single early language, which itself originated in sub-Saharan Africa.


    If his studies are correct, a huge breakthrough in linguistic studies of the origin of language has been made.

     

    Source: Science Journal / The New York Times

     
     
     
     
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