Saturday, April 16, 2011

I'll Bet Imhofe Doesn't Believe This, After All, America, America

New info shows how human language developed once in sub-Saharan Africa.

The first study, published in Science by Dr Quentin Atkinson, provides strong evidence for Africa as the birthplace of human language.
Atkinson studied the phonemes, or the perceptually distinct units of sound that differentiate words, used in 504 human languages today and found that the number of phonemes is highest in Africa and decreases with increasing distance from Africa. Shows that language originated once, in sub-Saharan Africa.
The second study,... challenges the idea that the human brain produces universal rules for language.
"The diversity of the world's language is amazing," says Professor Gray. "There are about 7,000 languages spoken today, some with just a dozen contrastive sounds, others with more than 100, some with complex patterns of word formation, others with simple words only, some with the verb at the beginning of the sentence, some in the middle, and some at the end."
"Our work shows that the claims some linguists have made for a really strong role of the innate structure of the human mind in shaping linguistic variation have been hugely oversold," he says.
I imagine this could be some trouble for Noam Chomsky's linguistic research.

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