AR

BE

BG

BN

BS

CA

CS

DE

EL

EM

EN

EO

ES

ET

FA

FI

FR

HE

HR

HU

ID

IT

JA

KA

KN

KO

LT

LV

MR

NL

NN

PA

PL

PT

PX

RO

RU

SK

SR

SV

UK

VI

ZH

Do we all speak African?

Not all of us have been to Africa. It's possible, however, that every language has already been there! Many scientists believe this, anyway. In their opinion, the origin of all languages lies in Africa. From there they have spread to the rest of the world. Altogether there are over 6,000 different languages. However, they all are said to have common African roots. Researchers have compared the phonemes of different languages. Phonemes are the smallest differentiating unit of a word. If a phoneme is changed, the whole meaning of a word changes. An example from the English language can illustrate this. In English, dip and tip describe two different things. So in English, /d/ and /t/ are two different phonemes. This phonetic variety is greatest in African languages. This decreases dramatically, however, the farther away you get from Africa. And this is exactly where the researchers see the proof for their theory. Populations that expand become more uniform. At their outer edges, the genetic variety decreases. This is due to the fact that the number of "settlers" also decreases. The fewer amount of genes that migrate, the more uniform a population becomes. The possible combinations of the genes decreases. As a result, members of a migrated population become similar to each other. Scientists call this the founder effect. As people left Africa, they took their language with them. But fewer settlers also brought fewer phonemes with them. This is how individual languages became more uniform over time. It appears to be proven that Homo sapiens originated from Africa. We are waiting to see, if it's also true for their language…

text before next text

© Copyright Goethe Verlag GmbH 2018. All rights reserved.