Did Dietary Changes Bring Us ‘F’ Words? Study Tackles Complexities of Language’s Origins

“What got here first?” he requested. “The modifications within the speech, or the modifications within the mind?”

Ray Jackendoff, a linguist at Tufts College who was not concerned within the research, stated the group’s discovering that the convenience of claiming some sounds could range with food regimen “is fascinating however not earthshaking.” That totally different cultures could have uttered sure sounds extra typically than others “doesn’t say a lot in regards to the deep historical past of language.”

Different cultural and social components, like adopting sounds from neighbors, additionally could have contributed to modifications in language, the research’s authors stated. For instance, when hunter-gatherer teams and agrarian teams combined, so did their sounds.

And others level out that labiodental sounds have even been discovered amongst hunter-gatherers with edge-to-edge bites, like some Yanomami individuals of South America, who stay largely as remoted hunter-gatherers, fishers and horticulturists.

Different linguists additionally level out that the research rests on untested assumptions, like simply how a lot these small chunk modifications would possibly affect sounds, the kinds of errors they may produce, the age at which hunter-gathers’ tooth put on down, and the notion that agriculture is a helpful proxy for food regimen. The function of cognitive components, together with neural management of speech organs, additionally goes unaddressed.

The authors reply that they aren’t minimizing the roles performed by tradition, society or cognition within the improvement of language. However they are saying that bodily variations between individuals deserve as a lot consideration within the research of human language improvement as they do in analysis into the communication methods of animals.

Some linguists fear that if not dealt with with excessive care, subsequent research of the bodily or organic variations of language may invigorate ethnocentric beliefs which have plagued linguistics up to now, particularly if analysis is publicly interpreted as making worth judgments of various teams’ languages.

“The danger here’s a bias to deal with optimistic advantages or what’s gained by people in agrarian societies, fairly than additionally contemplating no matter advantages people in hunter-gatherer societies may need,” stated Adam Albright, a linguist at M.I.T.