Did Dietary adjustments Bring Us ‘F’ Words? Study Tackles Complexities of Language’s Origins

“What came first?” he asked. “The adjustments within the speech, or the adjustments within the brain?”

Ray Jackendoff, a linguist at Tufts University who was not involved within the study, said the group’s finding that will the ease of saying some sounds may vary with diet “is usually interesting although not earthshaking.” that will different cultures may have uttered certain sounds more often than others “doesn’t say much about the deep history of language.”

some other cultural as well as social factors, like adopting sounds coming from neighbors, also may have contributed to adjustments in language, the study’s authors said. For example, when hunter-gatherer groups as well as agrarian groups mixed, so did their sounds.

as well as others point out that will labiodental sounds have even been found among hunter-gatherers with edge-to-edge bites, like some Yanomami people of South America, who live mostly as isolated hunter-gatherers, fishers as well as horticulturists.

some other linguists also point out that will the study rests on untested assumptions, like just how much these modest bite adjustments might influence sounds, the types of errors they could produce, the age at which hunter-gathers’ teeth wear down, as well as the notion that will agriculture is usually a useful proxy for diet. The role of cognitive factors, including neural control of speech organs, also goes unaddressed.

The authors respond that will they are not minimizing the roles played by culture, society or cognition within the development of language. although they say that will physical differences between people deserve as much attention within the study of human language development as they do in research into the communication systems of animals.

Some linguists worry that will if not handled with extreme care, subsequent studies of the physical or biological differences of language could invigorate ethnocentric beliefs that will have plagued linguistics within the past, especially if research is usually publicly interpreted as doing value judgments of different groups’ languages.

“The risk here is usually a bias to focus on positive benefits or what is usually gained by individuals in agrarian societies, rather than also considering whatever benefits individuals in hunter-gatherer societies might have,” said Adam Albright, a linguist at M.I.T.