--- In phoNet@egroups.com
, "Mark Odegard" <markodegard@h...> wrote:
> I did the EB bit. One thing not mentioned about Koisan languages
there, but spoken of in one of David Crystal's books is the fact that
there is a very serious sprachbund in this part of the world. The
clicks have been borrowed by other languages. There is a suggestion
from the EB article that the reputed genetic relationship of some of
these languages may only be very long term areal influences.
> I can't wait until we get to glotallized ejectives. Has anyone
seriously refuted Gam & Ivanov's reconstruction for PIE?
Did you read my detailed response on clicks (phoNet #184)? Most of
the Khoisan languages are rather poorly known and their genetic
relationships are still being debated. Khoisan is in fact one of
those makeshift macrofamilies of Africa as defined by Greenberg. It
isn't clear whether Khoe and San are really related to each other,
while Sandawe and Hadza clearly stand apart and are at best distant
cousins to Khoisan and to each other. What's really strange about
clicks is this:
The phonological systems of the world should be full of clicks. They
make ideal consonants, being extremely salient and easy to pronounce.
Yet there are absolutely no click phonemes outside Sub-Saharan
Africa, and even there their occurrence is restricted to Khoisan and
a few neighbouring languages which have borrowed them from Khoisan
and which have much smaller inventories (up to a dozen clicks or so,
as compared with 20-83 distinct phonemes in typical Khoisan systems).
A comparable mystery is the nearly absolute non-occurrence of
fricatives and affricates in Australian languages. Facts like these
make me suspect that there are some biologically determined
differences between human populations as regards the mechanism of
language learning, and in particular the "innate knowledge" of what
type of sound should be expected in the input data a child is exposed
to. This hasn't really been studied, but the oft-repeated assumption
that the innate "language acquisition device", or "language
instinct", or what, is universal in the sense of being exactly the
same in all humans doesn't make much sense from the point of view of
population genetics. If it's genetically determined, it *must* be
variable to a certain extent, just like all other hereditary traits.
As for ejectives, I'll discuss them with great pleasure, though
perhaps not right now. If you have any concrete questions concerning
them, just go ahead. But I'd prefer to tackle things like Indo-
European stops on Cybalist, as they might be considered OT here.