RE: World Language Losses at a Glance

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Wed Jun 20 2001 - 14:09:04 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: World Language Losses at a Glance
    Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2001 14:09:04 +0100
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    >> languages, and preliminary genetic tests suggest they may be
    >> important in terms of human history.

            <Important in what way?>

            Important for perhaps providing evidence of whether or not there was
    a single migration out of africa, or several. The programme hinted, rather
    than over-stated (unusual for a TV show), that the genes of these islanders
    had some very ancient components indeed, possibly significantly predating
    the believed colonisation period of that region by modern humans (or perhaps
    that should be other modern humans).

            <Might a language be important in the same way?>

            Certainly for linguists, it would be important in the same way as
    the genes were for population geneticists.

            <Ought we to be concerned about the demise of a meme line?>

            I suppose in the sense of meme diversity, there's a fair point
    there, as well as in potentially losing an entire culture which the language
    may be the only record of. Still, and I know this betrays a very obvious
    Western post-industrial bias, but just how much more can we learn from
    tribal belief systems, and ritual practices (that's the anthropologists
    sorted then...).


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