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LINGUIST List 18.1655

Wed May 30 2007

Disc: Tones and Genes: Scientific American

Editor for this issue: Ann Sawyer <sawyerlinguistlist.org>


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        1.    Roger Blench, Tones and Genes: Scientific American


Message 1: Tones and Genes: Scientific American
Date: 30-May-2007
From: Roger Blench <r.blenchodi.org.uk>
Subject: Tones and Genes: Scientific American


An article published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of 
Sciences) by Ladd et al. and highlighted in Scientific American, attempts
to link tonal languages with particular genes, two genes, ASPM and
Microcephalin. This is because the world's languages are supposed to divide
neatly into two categories, tonal and non-tonal. I would have thought any
competent linguist with an interest in this area knows how untrue this is.
The tonal properties of many languages remain disputed (e.g. Cushitic,
Papuan), the classification of pitch accent languages is disputed. But more
importantly, highly tonal languages can be closely related to those with no
tones (e.g. Omotic, Niger-Congo). And yet according to the article these
mutations appeared 37,000 years ago, to account for the genetic differences.

My question is; who referees articles for PNAS?



Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics






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