Modern human cultures and languages born in Africa

Posted on 17 April 2011 by Codrin Arsene

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.

Be Sociable, Share!

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Branden Says:

    Alle Elektriker haben einen Kurzen … :-)

Leave a Reply

5 × = fifteen

Quote of the Day

With literature, sometimes a book is presented in the media as being say, a Muslim story or an African story, when essentially it’s a universal story which we can all relate to it, no matter what race or social background we come from. (Shawn Johnson)


Be Sociable, Share!

This Vanguard reportage deserves to be seen.

I don’t normally post things that are not Africa-related but this young man from Taiwan is simply amazing. Lin Yu Chun participated in a Taiwanese version of the American Idol called Super Star Avenue, singing the song I will always love you by Whitney Houston. I’ll keep it short: his version of the song is clearly better than what Mrs. Houston is capable of singing right now. Some dubbed him the “Susan Boyle of Taiwan” and there might just be something of this young man. Check it out yourselves. I’m sure you’ll be surprised as well.

To all of us who have experienced the adventure that is a boda-boda (motorcycle-taxi in East Africa, primarily in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo)

Creative Commons License
A Romanian in Africa by Codrin Arsene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at