Phonemic Diversity Supports a Serial Founder Effect Model of Language Expansion from Africa

@article{Atkinson2011PhonemicDS,
  title={Phonemic Diversity Supports a Serial Founder Effect Model of Language Expansion from Africa},
  author={Quentin D. Atkinson},
  journal={Science},
  year={2011},
  volume={332},
  pages={346 - 349}
}
  • Q. Atkinson
  • Published 15 April 2011
  • Geography, Medicine
  • Science
Analysis of word sounds suggests that language originated once, in central and southern Africa. Human genetic and phenotypic diversity declines with distance from Africa, as predicted by a serial founder effect in which successive population bottlenecks during range expansion progressively reduce diversity, underpinning support for an African origin of modern humans. Recent work suggests that a similar founder effect may operate on human culture and language. Here I show that the number of… Expand
Support for a linguistic serial founder effect originating in Africa
Present African languages have some of the largest phonemic inventories in the world. In contrast, languages with the smallest inventories are spoken in South America and Oceania1. The latter wereExpand
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
Rejection of a serial founder effects model of genetic and linguistic coevolution
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
Comment on “Phonemic Diversity Supports a Serial Founder Effect Model of Language Expansion from Africa”
TLDR
Analyses using raw data without simplification suggest a decline from central Asia rather than from Africa, while Atkinson reported a declined trend of phonemic diversity from Africa that indicated the African exodus of modern languages. 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
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
On phonemic diversity and the origin of language in Africa
Quentin Atkinson (2011) proposes a theory with the important implication that human language originates and expands from Africa. His theory, however, does not seem fully convincing as it standsExpand
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
The geographical configuration of a language area influences linguistic diversity
TLDR
It is found that language diversity in general increases as geographic distance increases and as time passes—as with biodiversity, and for mainland languages, linguistic diversity is most strongly related to geographic distance. Expand
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