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Language and Genes in Africa and Middle East

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  • Michael Lamport Commons
    True: a) Languages are independent of genes. C. Loring Brace b) True, Berber and Semitic are generally thought ... into the Near East. Larry Trask
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 2, 2002

      a) "> > Languages are independent of genes."
      C. Loring Brace

      b) "> > True, Berber and Semitic are generally thought
      > > to constitute two of about six coordinate branches
      > > of a vast 'Afro-Asiatic' family. But, apart from
      > > Semitic, Afro-Asiatic is attested exclusively in
      > > Africa, and the writers have no business moving it
      into the Near East."

      Larry Trask

      Afro-Asiatic (a misnomer) replaces the erstwhile name of the family
      "Hamito-Semitic", which consists of subbranches: Egyptian, Semitic
      [relatively closely related to each other], Chadic, Omotic, Cushitic,
      and Berber (also called "Libyan").

      "Near Eastern languages came from Africa 10,000 years

      Brockman writes: ---Any time time-depth statements are ABSOLUTE
      The oldest written records we have are Sumerian, maybe 5,200 years ago.
      Since we have no reliable way to gauge the rate of language
      change---something called "lexicostatistics" or "glottochronology" was
      tried in the '50s and '60s and it failed miserably---, without adequate
      written records we have no way of deciding what language was at what
      stage when. Related languages change at independent rates and we have
      no way to measure these changes from ancient times with sparse or
      missing records of those languages. There's no way to constrain any
      theory about that change. No way! Any estimates given about any
      language family's prehistory that goes more back than several HUNDRED
      years before the earliest DECIPHERABLE written records is to be

      My Best,

      Michael Lamport Commons, Ph.D.
      Research Associate and Lecturer

      Program in Psychiatry and the Law
      Department of Psychiatry
      Harvard Medical School
      Massachusetts Mental Health Center
      74 Fenwood Road
      Boston, Ma 02115-6196

      Telephone (617) 497-5270
      FacsimileĀ  (617) 491-5270
      FacsimileĀ  (617) 547-0874
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