[ExI] Genes and the Great Vowel Shift

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Sun Feb 24 19:34:04 UTC 2008

At 11:23 AM 2/24/2008, Damien wrote:


>This "gene theory" of utterance is all the most incredible
>codswallop. Haven't you guys ever spoken to an Asian-ancestry human
>raised in California or Sydney, or a Pakistani from Leeds, or a kid
>from an impoverished background who's been sent to a classy school?
>Genes, schmemes. (Pun intended.)

Possible admixtures from previous versions of hominids aside, humans 
were one small interbreeding group 60k years ago or so.

So you would expect most of them to be able to pick up the version of 
speech they are exposed to in childhood.

But to say genes have no influence on utterance can't be supported by 
the evidence.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOXP2

To say that genes cause no bias in the way a language drifts seems to 
be making an unsupportable statement as well since the language of a 
culture of people who all had the FOXP2 mutation would rapidly drift 
away from the parent language, probably in a generally predictable way.

Likewise a culture where all the kids had genetically caused cleft palates.

"A direct result of an open connection between the 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_cavity>oral cavity and 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasal_cavity>nasal cavity is 
velopharyngeal insufficiency 
Because of the gap, air leaks into the nasal cavity resulting in a 
hypernasal <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voice>voice 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resonance>resonance and nasal 
Secondary effects of VPI include speech 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Articulation>articulation errors (e.g., 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distortions>distortions, substitutions, 
and omissions) and compensatory misarticulations (e.g., glottal stops 
and posterior nasal 


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