--- In Nostratica@yahoogroups.com, "madlinguistics"
<madlinguistics@...> wrote:
> Unless we choose to believe the Genesis 11(Babel) account, which
> genesis 10 (languages already split) disproves, its basic logic
that all
> languages came ffrom one, unless of course two separate groups of
> humans evolved. Finding the original language is where theory
> in, not whether it exists.

A lot depends on how you see language evolving. It's been seriously
sugested that the first stage had words but no grammar. That
appears to be a level some non-hominid apes are capable of. If
there was a sudden switch to a stage with a grammar, how would the
first speakers of a grammatical language (2, 3, 4, 5?) have
interacted with the others? If they separated themselves from the
others, we have monogenesis. If not, one can see alternating
periods with and without grammatical speech in their descendants -
polygenesis. If H. s. neanderthalensis did not have grammatical
speech, the competitive advantage of grammatical speech would not
have been rapidly overwhelming on a historical time scale.

An alternative is that once a few speakers started grammatical
speech, it rapidly spread culturally rather than genetically, simply
because we were pre-adapted to it. What happens then depends on how
it spread. I can envisage the idea of grammar, rather than the
grammatical system, spreading, in which case we would again have
polygenesis of grammatical language.

This is looking further back than Nostratic does, back to the level
of 'Proto-World'. (It may be no more than one order of magnitude
different, though.) A working definition of Nostratic is the 'crown
clade of the languages of the peoples of the book' - Hebrew,
Aramaic, Greek, Arabic and South Arabian. :) (As far as I'm aware,
I came up with that definition myself, but I wouldn't be surprised
if others have also come up with it.) You can throw in Avestan or
even Sanskrit and Pali if you wish - Hebrew and Greek suffice to
define the clade - it will still contain Ancient Egyptian. Some
people would like to eject Afro-Asiatic (it has reconstruction
problems of its own), and then I suppose you could redefine
Nostratic as everything more closely related to Greek than to
Hebrew. Either way, Nostratic will still contain all of Indo-
European and there is a general consensus that it will also contain