Archive for the Category: Evolution

How old is language?

This morning I listened to the first in a new series of a BBC Radio 4 programme called Fry’s English Delight in which the Stephen Fry discusses the development, design and functions of the mouth. According to an evolutionary biologist interviewed on the programme, the human mouth attained it’s modern form between about 80 and […]

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Armenian inscription

Can anyone decipher the writing on this image? It appears on the back of a photo of a gentleman who was born in Russia of an Armenian family. Unfortunately part of the inscription is missing.

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Language evolution

Some interesting experiments on language evolution are being undertaken in the University of Edinburgh’s Language Evolution and Computation Research Unit, and one thing they’ve found is that some aspects of language can develop in an afternoon. They believe that language evolves culturally through being learned and used by people. They have demonstrated aspects of this […]

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Language mainly a cultural phenomenon

A report I found the other day suggests that language is most likely to be mainly a cultural phenomenon and that any genetic underpinnings for language probably pre-date the emergence of human language. Researchers in the UK and USA modelled how aspects of language might have been encoded genetically and concluded that this was very […]

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I can hear you

A report I found today in Science News suggests that early hominids had hearing capabilities similar to modern humans, and paleoanthropologists at the American Natural History Museum in New York believe that this could indicate that they had some form of language. Analysis and reconstruction of the auditory bones in skills of Homo heidelbergensis dating […]

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Language Evolution

Yesterday I finished reading Language Evolution by Morten H. Christiansen and Simon Kirby. The book contains 17 chapters written by scholars from a range of fields, including archaeology, biology, cognitive science, linguistics, neuroscience and psychology, and discusses the latest theories and current controversies in the field of language origins and evolution. It’s very interesting and […]

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Language evolution

According to an article I found today, languages tend to evolve in short bursts. The happens when groups of people coin lots of new words to describe their world. Researchers have used computer programs normally used to study biologically evolution to study the development of basic vocabulary in 490 languages in Europe, Asia and Africa. […]

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Language change

According to a New Scientist article I came across the other day, frequently-used words tend to be more resistant to change then words that are used less often. A team at the University of Reading lead by Mark Pagel, an Evolutionary Biologist, compared the words used to express 200 different meanings in 87 different Indo-European […]

Also posted in Language, Words and phrases 5 Comments

Tones and genes

According to an article in the New Scientist, researchers at the University of Edinburgh have demonstrated using statistical analysis that two genes, ASPM and Microcephalin, that govern aspects of brain development tend to differ between regions where tonal languages are spoken, and regions where non-tonal languages are spoken. The article also mentions that there are […]

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