[ExI] Genes and the Great Vowel Shift

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Sun Feb 24 00:21:18 UTC 2008

One of the mysteries of the past is why both German and English 
underwent a serious shift between 1200 and 1600 in the way vowels are 
spoken.  It's part of the reason English spelling (partly set before 
the shift) is such a non phonetic mess.

Having read Gregory Clark's works on this period, I wonder if the 
shift was partly due to shifts in gene frequencies?  As the gene 
mappers get deeply into whatever changes the long period Clark writes 
about caused in the population average, I wonder if they will find 
genes that tend affecting vowels (or more like mouth shape) becoming 
more common over the period of the Great Vowel Shift?  If they do, 
chances are they will be associated with genes that enhance the 
traits Clark notes in his work.


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