Language and Out of Africa

18 Feb 2012

At .. anthropologists have said the cradle of language could, or it that 'should', be traced back to Africa. A recent paper that received lots of press attention claimed language could be traced back to specifically, SW Africa, but a new paper has provided a dash of cold water to the fanfare - see Science 335 (no 6069), 2012. It says that this is an idea that is not provable, in effect saying that language does not support the Out of Africa hypothesis - and we might add, no matter how admirable they think such an idea might be. In reality, the paper continues, linguists that try to throw light on the origin of language by analysing patters of language distribution cannot safely go beyond 10,000 years ago - the beginning of the Holocene.