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Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family
TLDR
Both the inferred timing and root location of the Indo-European language trees fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8000 to 9500 years ago, which supports the suggestion that the origin of the language family was indeed Anatolia 7 to 10 thousand years ago—contemporaneous with the spread of agriculture.
Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin
TLDR
An analysis of a matrix of 87 languages with 2,449 lexical items produced an estimated age range for the initial Indo-European divergence of between 7,800 and 9,800 years bp, in striking agreement with the Anatolian hypothesis.
Frequency of word-use predicts rates of lexical evolution throughout Indo-European history
TLDR
It is proposed that the frequency with which specific words are used in everyday language exerts a general and law-like influence on their rates of evolution, consistent with social models of word change that emphasize the role of selection and suggest that owing to the ways that humans use language, some words will evolve slowly and others rapidly across all languages.
Phonemic Diversity Supports a Serial Founder Effect Model of Language Expansion from Africa
TLDR
It is shown that the number of phonemes used in a global sample of 504 languages is also clinal and fits a serial founder–effect model of expansion from an inferred origin in Africa, pointing to parallel mechanisms shaping genetic and linguistic diversity and supports an African origin of modern human languages.
mtDNA variation predicts population size in humans and reveals a major Southern Asian chapter in human prehistory.
TLDR
Estimates of relative population sizes show remarkable concordance with the contemporary regional distribution of humans across Africa, Eurasia, and the Americas, indicating that mtDNA diversity is a good predictor of population size in humans.
Male infanticide leads to social monogamy in primates
TLDR
It is shown that biparental care shortens relative lactation length, thereby reducing infanticide risk and increasing reproductive rates, and phylogenetic analyses support a key role for infanticides in the social evolution of primates, and potentially, humans.
Population structure and cultural geography of a folktale in Europe
TLDR
It is found that geographical distance and ethnolinguistic affiliation exert significant independent effects on folktale diversity and that variation between populations supports a clustering concordant with European geography.
FROM WORDS TO DATES: WATER INTO WINE, MATHEMAGIC OR PHYLOGENETIC INFERENCE?
Gray & Atkinson’s (2003) application of quantitative phylogenetic methods to Dyen, Kruskal & Black’s (1992) IndoEuropean database produced controversial divergence time estimates. Here we test the
Ultraconserved words point to deep language ancestry across Eurasia
TLDR
A statistical model is used to predict the existence of a set of such highly conserved words among seven language families of Eurasia postulated to form a linguistic superfamily that evolved from a common ancestor around 15,000 y ago, implying that some frequently used words have been retained in related forms since the end of the last ice age.
Languages Evolve in Punctuational Bursts
TLDR
This work used vocabulary data from three of the world's major language groups to show that 10 to 33% of the overall vocabulary differences among these languages arose from rapid bursts of change associated with language-splitting events.
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