Modern human cultures and languages born in Africa

Scientists have long ago established that our genetic heritage can be traced to the African continent, that humanity was literally born in Africa some 250,000 years ago. With the massive migration that occurred about 70,000 years ago, people left the continent towards other lands and climates. With this migration, the human genetic diversity has also increased, namely the further away people went (let’s say, to South East Asia or Latin America), the less modern people have in common from a genetic point of view with African subjects. All this has pretty much been proven.

What has been a subject of contention among scientists has been the degree to which language patterns follow the same rules. If it did, then there would still be African traces in the languages spoken today which would suggest a new level of connection among people all over the world. Quentin D. Atkinson, a New Zeeland linguistic researcher has undertaken the task of proving that there is an African origin of most modern human languages.

Mr. Atkinson analyzed the phonemes – distinct units of sounds that differentiate words – from 504 contemporary spoken languages. In an article published in the Science Magazine on April 15th, the researcher has argued that there is a “serial founder effect” model of linguistic expansion from Africa. More specifically, that the distinct units of sound from all these languages can be traced to a point of origin on the African continent.

The conclusion of the article is quite simple yet of crucial importance to all of us. The fact that to some small degree all people share the same language with their African ancestors suggests that people all over the world are intrinsically connected to each other not only from a genetic point of view but also from a cultural perspective.

In the world of Quentin D. Atkinson (quote taken from a recent article in Business Week):

“”If our languages can be traced to Africa, and language is a marker of cultural ancestry, then . . . we are a family in a cultural as well as a genetic sense,” ”

You may access the pdf file of Dr. Atkinson’s article here.

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