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Posts Tagged ‘altitude’

Here’s a good one from The Atlantic for all you linguists out there.

Richard Solash reports, “A new study claims that mountains may have influenced a special class of sounds occurring in almost all of the languages of the Caucasus.

“In the 10th century, an Arab geographer described the Caucasus region as a ‘mountain of tongues.’ The nickname has stuck to this day, likely because of how well it captures two of the area’s main features: its dramatic cliffs and its array of languages.

“But new and controversial research by a U.S. linguist suggests that the ‘mountains’ may have more to do with the ‘tongues’ than anyone has guessed.

“In a study published last month in the journal Plos One, Caleb Everett, an anthropological linguist at the University of Miami, claims that a special class of sounds occurring in almost all of the languages of the Caucasus may be due to ‘the direct influence’ of the region’s high altitude.

“Everett’s conclusion applies beyond the Caucasus as well. He offers apparent proof that the rare sounds, known as ‘ejectives,’ are far more likely to occur in regions of high elevation worldwide.”

More at The Atlantic, where you will also find a great map of languages in the Caucasus..

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Greater Caucasus Mountain Range

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