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Genes influence language

The language we speak is dependent on our ancestry. But our genes are also responsible for our language. Scottish researchers have come to this conclusion. They examined how English differs from Chinese. In doing so they discovered that genes play a role, too. Because genes influence the development of our brain. That is to say, they shape our brain structures. With this, our ability to learn languages is determined. Variants of two genes are crucial to this. If a particular variant is scarce, tonal languages develop. So tonal languages are spoken by people without these gene variants. In tonal languages, the meaning of words is determined by the pitch of the tones. Chinese is included in the tonal languages, for example. If this gene variant is dominant, however, other languages develop. English is not a tonal language. The variants of this gene are not evenly distributed. That means they occur with differing frequency in the world. But languages only survive if they are passed down. In order to do this, children must be able to imitate the language of their parents. So they must be able to learn the language well. Only then will it be passed down from generation to generation. The older gene variant is the one that promotes tonal languages. So there were probably more tonal languages in the past than there are today. But one mustn't overestimate the genetic components. They can only add to explaining the development of languages. But there isn't a gene for English, or a gene for Chinese. Anybody can learn any language. You don't need genes for that, but rather only curiosity and discipline!

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