[ExI] Genes and the Great Vowel Shift

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Sun Feb 24 22:20:29 UTC 2008

At 12:54 PM 2/24/2008, you wrote:
>At 12:34 PM 2/24/2008 -0700, Keith wrote:
> >To say that genes cause no bias in the way a language drifts seems to
> >be making an unsupportable statement ...
> >
> >Likewise a culture where all the kids had genetically caused cleft palates.
>Wow. Now you're *really* reaching. :)

Thought experiment.  :-)

>Don't forget those with genes for no head at all, or for mouths in
>the middle of their knees.

I know you are joking, but there *are* hox genes that put eyes on the 
knees of fruit flies.

>I think it's unlikely that genes among European sub-populations
>modify accents derived from Indo-European languages (or whatever it's
>called these days), which is what we're talking about with the Great
>Vowel Shift--although I have seen suggestions that Asians might have
>alleles that make it easier to pick up and maybe articulate tonal languages.

Clark's arguments make it fairly clear that the English, and probably 
by extension, the Dutch, German and Islandic populations, underwent 
some serious genetic selection over about the same time frame as the 
Great Vowel Shift.

Now I am well aware that correlation does not equal 
causation.  Still, I don't see how you can just rule out a possible connection.


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