Phonetic Clues Hint Language Is Africa-Born

SnakI Survived the Great Vowel Shift

Bliv bruger af LibraryThing, hvis du vil skrive et indlæg

Phonetic Clues Hint Language Is Africa-Born

Dette emne er markeret som "i hvile"—det seneste indlæg er mere end 90 dage gammel. Du kan vække emnet til live ved at poste et indlæg.

1timspalding
apr 14, 2011, 10:19pm

Interesting stuff...
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/science/15language.html?hp

Anyone know more about this?

2hnau
apr 15, 2011, 8:48am

4krolik
apr 15, 2011, 5:33pm

>1 timspalding:
Don't know but wish I did. Am passing on the link to some phonology colleagues.

5timspalding
apr 15, 2011, 5:54pm

Seems to me like a classic example of the devil being in the details, and a bitch to verify.

6suitable1
apr 15, 2011, 6:47pm

The theory sounds reasonable to me, but I bet some expert could point to some languages that don't fit.

7jjwilson61
apr 15, 2011, 7:03pm

A scholarly critique was posted on this thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/114241.

8kelsiface
apr 16, 2011, 5:07pm

Mark Liberman posted about it today over at Language Log: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3090

9jjwilson61
apr 16, 2011, 5:55pm

8> I love it when a scholarly treatment quotes Dave Berry.

10erilarlo
apr 17, 2011, 4:45pm

A Dave Barry reference? Says something about how "scholarly" it's likely to be. I don't need to follow the link. A: the topic alone warns me off. B: newspaper accounts are usually far from "scholarly". C: I've seen this mauled by actual scholars elsewhere.
Given all that, yes, since early ancesters of ours seem to have originated there, the origins of human speech likely did, too. This is NOT something actual evidence of is going to turn up short of the invention of a time machine. It's not like tracing DNA around the world.

11jjmcgaffey
apr 17, 2011, 8:27pm

10> You're missing out, then. He's doing a scholarly mauling of the mathematical bases for the notion, with an appropriate joke, drawn from Dave Barry, to close (not as part of the real discussion). I found it rather more interesting than the original proposal...but then, I'm a math and probability geek as much as a language one.

12anglemark
apr 18, 2011, 3:57am

10> Mark Liberman is a well-known academic. He's Trustee Professor of Phonetics in the Department of Linguistics, and a professor in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

I think I'd be prepared to go out on a limb and dare call him an "actual scholar".

13jjwilson61
apr 18, 2011, 9:58am

What the others said. Language Log isn't a newspaper source, it's an academic blog.

14CarolineMacafee
apr 19, 2011, 8:30pm

I don't buy the methodology of this. I've commented here http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/04/the-african-ur-language/#more-108... (comment no.29). There isn't any absolute number of phonemes in a language - it's a matter of analysis, with many judgement calls. The number will be quite parsimonious in languages that have already been analysed for the purposes of creating an alphabet. I don't know anything about Polynesian languages but if there really are so few phonemes, something else (syllable structure?) must be doing a lot of work instead.

15prosfilaes
apr 20, 2011, 6:40pm

Just because there's judgment calls about the number of phonemes in a language, doesn't mean the concept of counting the number of phonemes in a language is a meaningless one. One might look at Hawaiian, and come up with 9 consonants or 10, instead of the standard 8, but never 22.

16timspalding
apr 20, 2011, 6:41pm

It's also significant that the counting wasn't done by the author.

17jjwilson61
apr 20, 2011, 7:32pm

16> But the observation that languages that are studied more (which tend to be the larger ones) are likely to have more identified phonemes is also interesting.

18prosfilaes
apr 20, 2011, 8:18pm

#17: But that's not true; as this study points out, African languages tend to have the most phonemes, not the Indo-European languages.