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Oceans apart: Study reveals insights into evolution of languages

Date:
September 2, 2014
Source:
Wiley
Summary:
A new study provides evidence that physical barriers formed by oceans can influence language diversification. "Charles Darwin would have been amused by a study like this, because it confirms his hypothesis that languages, like species, are the product of evolution," said the study's lead author.

Map of 57 Japonic languages. The Japanese Islands comprise 6852 islands of which 258 are inhabited. Scale bar: 1000 km.
Credit: Image courtesy of Wiley

A new Journal of Evolutionary Biology study provides evidence that physical barriers formed by oceans can influence language diversification.

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Investigators argue that the same factor responsible for much of the biodiversity in the Galαpagos Islands is also responsible for the linguistic diversity in the Japanese Islands: the natural oceanic barriers that impede interaction between speech communities. Therefore, spatially isolated languages gradually diverge from one another due to a reduction of linguistic contact.

"Charles Darwin would have been amused by a study like this, because it confirms his hypothesis that languages, like species, are the product of evolution," said lead author Dr. Sean Lee.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Lee, T. Hasegawa. Oceanic barriers promote language diversification in the Japanese Islands. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 2014; 27 (9): 1905 DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12442

Cite This Page:

Wiley. "Oceans apart: Study reveals insights into evolution of languages." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 September 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140902144255.htm>.
Wiley. (2014, September 2). Oceans apart: Study reveals insights into evolution of languages. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140902144255.htm
Wiley. "Oceans apart: Study reveals insights into evolution of languages." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140902144255.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

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