LINGUIST List 14.2493

Fri Sep 19 2003

Qs: AV Equipment/Toddler Research; Genetic Clicks

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  1. Karen Condouris, AV equipment for toddler research study
  2. Steven Schaufele, Genetic clicks?

Message 1: AV equipment for toddler research study

Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 09:26:59 -0400
From: Karen Condouris <kcondourBU.EDU>
Subject: AV equipment for toddler research study

We are constructing a new observation facility for an autism/toddler
research study.

Recommendations regarding selection of dual remote digital video cameras,
set-up for good sound recording, monitors and vcrs would be welcome.

Karen Condouris
Boston University School of Medicine
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Message 2: Genetic clicks?

Date: 18 Sep 2003 12:45:32 -0000
From: Steven Schaufele <>
Subject: Genetic clicks?

In this month's issue of _Discover_, there's an item about some
research by geneticists Alec Knight and Joanna Mountain, originally
reported in March in _Current Biology_, on the presence of clicks in
the languages of the Hadzabe people of Tanzania and the Juj'haonsi of
`southwestern Africa' (Namibia? can't seem to find it in my copy of
the _Ethnologue_). It is apparently suggested that the fact that
these two ethnic groups, otherwise quite unrelated to each other
(genetically), both have clicks in their languages must mean that the
clicks are inherited from the language of their last common ancestor,
which Knight & Mountain estimate must have flourished over 40,000
years ago.

Now, as a historical linguist, I can think of a half-dozen hypotheses
to explain why two widely-separated ethnic groups might both speak
click languages without positing genetic inheritance (involving such
concepts as chains of language/cultural contact, etc.). Is there a
serious hypothesis hiding in this biological research which, being
neither an Africanist or a phonetician, I've missed out on? Or would
it be worthwhile to upbraid the editorial board of _Discover_ for
lending credibility to a wrong-headed approach to glossogenetics?

Steven Schaufele

Steven Schaufele (Ph.D.)
Assoc. Prof. (Linguistics)
English Dept., Soochow University
Waishuanghsi Campus
Shihlin District
Taipei 11102, Taiwan
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