Ultraconserved words and Eurasiatic? The “faces in the fire” of language prehistory

@article{Heggarty2013UltraconservedWA,
  title={Ultraconserved words and Eurasiatic? The “faces in the fire” of language prehistory},
  author={Paul Heggarty},
  journal={Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences},
  year={2013},
  volume={110},
  pages={E3254 - E3254}
}
  • P. Heggarty
  • Published 5 August 2013
  • Linguistics
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Pagel et al. (1) claim support for a putative “Eurasiatic” macrofamily of languages and a dispersal ∼14,450 BP. Yet their “data”— claimed reconstructions of Proto-Eurasiatic wordforms in the Languages of the World Etymological Database (LWED)—are not actually data in any sense that either the natural sciences or mainstream linguistics would recognize. They are subjective interpretations, not amenable to independent validation or replication, and widely rejected as vacuous by specialists in… 

Support for linguistic macrofamilies from weighted sequence alignment

  • G. Jäger
  • Linguistics
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2015
TLDR
Findings regarding the automatic classification of Eurasian languages using techniques from computational biology (such as sequence alignment, phylogenetic inference, and bootstrapping) are reported, finding that there is solid support for the hypothetical linguistic macrofamilies Eurasiatic and Austro-Tai.

Reply to Mahowald and Gibson and to Heggarty: No problems with short words, and no evidence provided

TLDR
It is shown that shorter proto-words were more likely to be judged cognate simply on the basis of their length, and their −0.24 correlation between the phonological length of contemporary English words and the measure of cognate class size is not relevant to the question of chance sound correspondences among the proto- words from different language families.

The vocal tract as a time machine: inferences about past speech and language from the anatomy of the speech organs

TLDR
This study shows that detailed anatomical information concerning two components of the vocal tract can be extracted and digitized from the osteological remains of three historical populations from The Netherlands, and can be used to conduct three-dimensional biomechanical simulations of vowel production.

Cultural Traits and Multidisciplinary Dialogue

Every discipline poses its research questions in specific ways and thus uses concepts that are suited to find answers in its well defined disciplinary frameworks. Accordingly, the idea of cultural

References

SHOWING 1-4 OF 4 REFERENCES

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.

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.

The rise and fall of languages

This book puts forward a different approach to language change, the punctuated equilibrium model. This is based on the premise that during most of the 100,000 or more years that humans have had

Human language as a culturally transmitted replicator

  • M. Pagel
  • Biology
    Nature Reviews Genetics
  • 2009
TLDR
For many comparative questions of anthropology and human behavioural ecology, historical processes estimated from linguistic phylogenies may be more relevant than those estimated from genes.