Every human language evolved from ’single prehistoric African mother tongue’
2011-04-19 0:00

By David Derbyshire | DailyMail.co.uk



Every language in the world - from English to Mandarin - evolved from a prehistoric ’mother tongue’ first spoken in Africa tens of thousands of years ago, a new study reveals.

After analysing more than 500 languages, Dr Quentin Atkinson found compelling evidence that they can be traced back to a long-forgotten dialect spoken by our Stone Age ancestors.

The findings don’t just pinpoint the origin of language to Africa - they also show that speech evolved at least 100,000 years ago, far earlier than previously thought.


Origin: The findings show that speech evolved at least 100,000 years ago, far earlier than previously thought.

British evolutionary scientists last night welcomed the study and said it shed light on one of the most important moments in human evolution.

There is now compelling evidence that the first modern humans evolved in Africa around 200,000 to 150,000 years ago.


Scientists have found that every language can be traced back to a long-forgotten dialect spoken by our Stone Age ancestors in Africa. The further away from Africa a language is spoken, the fewer distinct sounds - or phonemes - it has.

Around 70,000 years ago, these early humans began to migrate from the continent, eventually spreading around the rest of the world.
Although most scientists agree with this ’Out of Africa’ theory, they are less sure when our ancestors began to talk.

Some have argued that language evolved independently in different parts of the world, while others say it evolved just once, and that all languages are descended from a single ancestral mother tongue.
Dr Atkinson, of Auckland University, has now come up with fascinating evidence for a single African origin of language.

In a paper published today in Science, he counted the number of distinct sounds, or phonemes, used in 504 languages from around the world and charted them on a map.

The number of sounds varies hugely from language to language. English, for instance has around 46 sounds, some languages in South America have fewer than 15, while the San bushmen of South Africa use a staggering 200.

Dr Atkinson found that the number of distinct sounds in a language tends to increase the closer it is to sub-Saharan Africa.
He argues that these differences reflect the patterns of migration of our ancestors when they left Africa 70,000 years ago.
Languages change as they are handed down from generation to generation.

In a large population, languages are likely to be relatively stable - simply because there are more people to remember what previous generations did, he says.

But in a smaller population - such as a splinter group that sets off to find a new home elsewhere - there are more chances that languages will change quickly and that sounds will be lost from generation to generation.
Professor Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at Reading University, said the same effect could be seen in DNA.


Modern-day Africans have a much greater genetic diversity than white Europeans who are descended from a relatively small splinter group that left 70,000 years ago.

’The further you get away from Africa, the fewer sounds you get,’ he said.
’People have suspected for a long time that language arose with the origin of our species in Africa and this is consistent with that view.’
Professor Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist at Oxford University, said the origin of language could now be pushed back to between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.

’The study shows that ancestral language came from somewhere in Africa,’ he said.


Article from: dailymail.co.uk




Also tune into:

Michael S. Schneider - Constructing The Universe with 1 through 12, Nature’s Numerical and Geometric Language

Pierre Sabak - Hidden Symbolism of the Dragon

Laird Scranton - The Science and Symbols of the Dogon

Dennis Fetcho - The Isisian Codes

Pierre Sabak - The Theban Priesthood, Adam & Eve’s Bloodline




Related Articles
Massacre at the hillfort: Mass grave that is challenging our beliefs about Iron Age Britain
Twin Babies’ Secret Language? (Video)
Numbers make no sense to people who can’t speak a language, scientists claim
Birth of a Language (Video)
Ancient language mystery deepens
On Languages of Power and Powerlessness
Experts trying to decipher ancient language
Languages evolve in sudden leaps, not creeps
First Tongue: An Ancient Global Language


Latest News from our Front Page

Viking Ship Construction - by the Museum in Roskilde, Denmark
2015-03-31 19:54
(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));[6] #FraVragTilVirkelighed: Smidige planker Vikingeskibene er bygget af frisk træ. Konstruktionen er let og fleksibel og har stillet store krav til materialekvalitet. Som grundprincip følges træets naturlige strukturer for at opnå ...
60 Years of Research Links Gluten Grains to Schizophrenia
2015-03-31 1:05
Does the consumption of gluten-containing grains contribute to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia? Believe it or not, this question has been asked for well over 60 years by researchers who stumbled upon evidence that the removal of gluten from the diet results in improved symptoms, or conversely, that gluten grain consumption leads to higher prevalence of both neurological and psychiatric problems. Reports ...
Thousands of migrants dumped on Britain as French wriggle out of border promise
2015-03-30 19:56
Thousands of migrants could be dumped on Britain’s doorstep if France tears up a historic border agreement, it was claimed last night. Officials have vowed to do “everything in their power” to wriggle out of a treaty moving the UK border to Calais. The besieged town’s mayor Natacha Bouchart is prepared to spark a major diplomatic row by opening the frontier ...
Richard III laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral
2015-03-30 18:36
King Richard III was today laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral - more than 500 years after his death in battle. The monarch, who reigned from 1483 to 1485, was the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch read a poem by Carol Ann Duffy during the service. Also in attendance was Robert Lindsay, who played Richard III in a version ...
Sweden - A new paradise for Romani beggars
2015-03-30 17:33
Thanks to the European Union and freedom of movement that follows with membership Sweden has been flooded with gypsies from Eastern Europe. Most member states have cracked down hard on the phenomenon of organized begging with legislation and forceful evictions so the Romani (colloquially known as Gypsies) who are engaged in this venture have moved their business to the country where ...
More News »