Out of Africa? The logic of phoneme inventories and founder effects

@inproceedings{Bowern2011OutOA,
  title={Out of Africa? The logic of phoneme inventories and founder effects},
  author={Claire Bowern},
  year={2011}
}
Atkinson (2011) discusses a tantalizing result, that phoneme inventory size may reflect a set of population expansions out of Africa tens of thousands of years ago. The starting point for the article is a correlation, first noted in Hay & Bauer 2007, that inventory size is positively correlated with population size. Atkinson shows that inventory size, as measured by a combination of features based on WALS data (Haspelmath et al. (eds.) 2008), declines as distance from Africa increases, even… Expand

Tables from this paper

PHONEME INVENTORY SIZE DISTRIBUTIONS AND THE ORIGINS OF THE DUALITY OF PATTERNING
Atkinson 2011 claims that phoneme inventories are largest in Africa and smaller elsewhere, and that this clinal distribution reflects a ‘founder-effect’ of human migrations ‘out-of-Africa’. BecauseExpand
Can a linguistic serial founder effect originating in Africa explain the worldwide phonemic cline?
TLDR
A model that simulates the human range expansion out of Africa and the subsequent spatial linguistic dynamics until today agrees with the observed decrease of linguistic diversity with increasing distance from the most likely origin of the out-of-Africa dispersal. Expand
A serial founder effect model of phonemic diversity based on phonemic loss in low-density populations
TLDR
The question of whether an alternative explanation for the worldwide phonemic cline is possible is tackled, by using alternative assumptions, and it is shown that this pattern may be due to a repeated bottleneck effect and phonemic loss. Expand
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TLDR
It is shown that phoneme inventories provide information about recent contacts between languages, however, because phonemes change rapidly, they cannot providing information about more ancient evolutionary processes. Expand
Dating the Origin of Language Using Phonemic Diversity
TLDR
This work uses a natural experiment, the colonization of Southeast Asia and Andaman Islands, to estimate the rate at which phonemic diversity increases through time, and estimates that present-day languages date back to the Middle Stone Age in Africa. Expand
Response to Comment on “Phonemic Diversity Supports a Serial Founder Effect Model of Language Expansion from Africa”
Jaeger et al. use statistical simulations to show that the serial founder effect analysis I reported has an inflated type 1 error rate. Crucially, however, their simulations also reveal that theExpand
A comparison of worldwide phonemic and genetic variation in human populations
TLDR
The results show that migration within geographic regions shapes phoneme evolution, although human expansion out of Africa has not left a strong signature on phonemes, and suggests that relatively isolated languages are more susceptible to phonemic change than languages with many neighbors. Expand
Comment on “Phonemic Diversity Supports a Serial Founder Effect Model of Language Expansion from Africa”
TLDR
It is shown that Atkinson’s intriguing proposal—that global linguistic diversity supports a single language origin in Africa—is an artifact of using suboptimal data, biased methodology, and unjustified assumptions. Expand
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