View Full Version : Does anyone enjoy learning about the evolution of languages?
02-27-07, 03:45 PM
M*W: I'm interested in the evolution of languages. If one starts out say in Phoenicia or Sumer and branches upward and outward like tree branches would grow, it's easy to visualize how all languages evolved from the same root. I believe the evolution of languages came about like this due to the transmigration of peoples from the cradle of languages. It's a fascinating subject.
When I lived in Europe, I learned that American's don't speak English... we speak American! The same goes for America. People from New York don't talk like people from Texas, etc.
In fact, even in the Great State of Texas, each geographical area has it's own dialect. When I travel Eastward from Houston, I can't understand a thing they're saying!
It has also been an interest of mine to distinguish the dialects of peoples near river deltas as compared to peoples in cities. There's definitely a difference in dialects.
Has anyone else noticed this, or is it just another one of my hallucinations?
I love language!
02-27-07, 06:09 PM
02-27-07, 06:12 PM
Don't they figure there are about 72 basic subdivisions of the three biggies, Indo-European, Shemitic, and Hamitic?
02-28-07, 12:00 AM
Don't they figure there are about 72 basic subdivisions of the three biggies, Indo-European, Shemitic, and Hamitic?The "biggies," by number of speakers, would include Indo-European, but also Sino-Tibetan, Malayo-Polynesian, Finno-Ugric-Ural-Altaic-Mongolic, and a couple of African families. Semito-Hamitic is not in that league, with only one fairly large nation of native speakers (Egypt).
More importantly, there's a growing number of linguists who suspect that there is only one language family. Research using massively parallel computing has begun to suggest common vocabularies that go way beyond the 12,000 year barrier. (We thought that vocabulary complete turns over in that time, because mere mortals were unable to track the phonetic shifts.) I saw a chart about four years ago (misfiled in my last move but still looking for the clipping) of about twenty common words that appeared to be shared by Latin, Amharic, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, Samoan, and a dozen other languages from families assumed to be unrelated.
If this "Eurasiatic" superfamily turns out to be real, it only needs to be correlated with the pan-African superfamily which is being assembled by another project, to support the one-root-language hypothesis. If this is true, it could mean that language originated in Africa and was in fact the key technology that made possible the planning and communication which allowed us to successfully emigrate to the rest of the globe.
02-28-07, 12:03 AM
Interesting, a diversion of languages from a common language in the Middle East, where have I heard that before?
02-28-07, 12:11 AM
Not from the Middle East. From Africa. That's where Homo sapiens originated, after all.
02-28-07, 12:13 AM
Were they black when they supposedly came out of Africa?
02-28-07, 12:20 AM
Isn't it more logical to say that language spread from "the cradle of civilization," Mesopotamia?
The Devil Inside
03-02-07, 02:37 PM
Were they black when they supposedly came out of Africa?
more than likely.
03-02-07, 02:43 PM
So 'Euros evolved from Blacks?' Sounds racist to me.
03-02-07, 10:31 PM
Were they black when they supposedly came out of Africa?Skin color is pretty ephemeral. It doesn't take more than a few millennia for a population to develop more melanin after migrating to a tropical region or to lose it after migrating to an arctic region. The light-skinned native peoples of Quebec are related to the dark-skinned people of the Amazon basin, not the nearby light-skinned Inuit.
It's a good bet that because of geography, the North Africans who first crossed into Asia Minor 70,000 years ago were probably dark skinned. But we can't know for sure. If there was a period of global cooling then--which after all would have lowered sea level and made the crossing much easier--the North Africans of that era might have had considerably lighter skin than the ones of today.
Isn't it more logical to say that language spread from "the cradle of civilization," Mesopotamia?It is not "logical" to say something that we know is untrue. Mesopotamian civilization was first developed around 8000BCE. Language goes back far beyond that. Just for a trivial and uncontroversial example, the Amerind language family (which includes the aforementioned people in Quebec and the Amazon, and most of the native peoples of the New World outside of the Arctic and what is now the USA west of the Rockies) goes back to a common ancestor brought over in the migration from Siberia in 15000BCE. That's 7,000 years before the dawn of civilization.
The only language family that can be loosely said to have "spread from Mesopotamia" is Indo-European (which, technically, started a little bit northwest of Mesopotamia), and that diaspora began many thousands of years after the establishment of civilization in the region, probably around 4000-3000BCE, when the more avanced Semitic and other tribes were already congregating in cities.
It is utterly Eurocentric to speak of Mesopotamia as "the cradle of civilization." Civilization was invented independently in six different places at six different times. Mesopotamia just happens to be the one from which Greco-Roman is descended so we regard it as our cultural ancestor. Civilization was invented in Egypt, India and China somewhat later than Mesopotamia, and Olmec and Inca civilization sprang up much more recently, around 1000BCE. There are six "cradles of civilization" and they were all developed by tribes whose Stone Age ancestors had already had language for at least ten thousand years, and probably more like a hundred thousand years.
Only three of those civilizations remain of course. The cursed Abrahamists in their religious zeal wiped out the other three. The Muslims destroyed Egypt but at least left their records and other artifacts, whereas the Christians did an even more thorough job of obliterating Olmec/Maya/Aztec and Inca.
Current research makes it a reasonable speculation that language was invented more than 70,000 years ago.
So 'Euros evolved from Blacks?' Sounds racist to me."Racism" is a fashionable label that was invented during my lifetime by people who felt obligated to assume guilt for the evil deeds of their ancestors. Modern humans walked out of Africa 70,000 years ago and mutated away from the genetic stock of their Negroid ancestors. They split into the Caucasoid and Mongoloid peoples somewhere around 50,000-40,000 years ago. (I don't have these dates with precision but the sequence and general order of magnitude is correct.) Those "racial" labels were invented in a previous century and are a little embarrassing today but they're the best ones we've got. The Caucasoid peoples stayed in Asia (and perhaps some of them went back to North Africa; the history of the Ethiopians etc. will probably never be unraveled) until the end of the last Ice Age around 25000BCE. That is when Homo sapiens first set foot in Europe. Until then it was entirely Neanderthal territory.
Uncounted waves of migration from Asia Minor, then later North Africa, central Asia and Arctic Asia, poured into Europe. The only ones we can document with any accuracy are the Indo-Europeans, basically the final large assault starting with the Celts and continuing with the Germans, Greeks, Romans and Albanians. There are tantalizing traces of the previous wave, most prominently the Basques, who still survive, plus the Etruscans who do not but are well-documented, the Picts who were still in Scotland in Roman times, and the people about whom we know nothing except the fact that they build Stonehenge. We keep digging up graves and village sites of other pre-Indo-European people in Europe but not enough to do a DNA map of their migratory patterns. Then of course a few other mini-waves of post-Indo-European migration occurred during historical times. The Finns, Estonians and Saami ("Lapps")--a Mongolic people--moved in next to the Swedes. Another Mongolic people, the Magyars, settled in what is now Hungary. The Bulgars, about whom we know almost nothing except that they were definitely not Slavic, came around 900CE and adopted the Slavonic language. The Ottomans, yet another Mongolic people, came up via the conventional route through Asia Minor about the same time. The Jews, a Semitic people who adopted medieval German which became Yiddish, were struggling with their own diaspora and settled all over Europe. Another Semitic people, the Moors, came up across the Mediterranean but were eventually repelled.
But enough of the past 2,000 years, which are meticulously recorded. Ice, you need to do a lot more study of prehistory. There was an awful lot going on in the world before the Sumerians and Babylonians. Humans have had language for an almost unimaginably long time and the era of civilization is only a fraction of it. People who lived in primitive farming and fishing tribal villages had language. Nomadic hunter-gatherers had language. It was not invented in Babylon.
03-04-07, 09:18 AM
Posters here all seem to be concerned with "pre-Chompski" linguistics. Post-Chompski is the more interesting form, IMHO.