Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

More on language diversity

I came across the map shown below, and I found it very similar to the map that I included in my previous post on Language diversity: it has the same clusters in Papua New Guinea, Amazonia and northern South America, South East Asia and Equatorial Africa. But! it depicted another thing, "Tone diversity".

The website that published that map has a very interesting post: Phonemic diversity decays "out of Africa"? (April 16, 2011)

Yes, the red dots are higher in Africa, S.E. Asia and PNG, but none in north Asia or Europe, and quite a few in America. Regarding the pink dots, America has more than the putative cradle od Amerindians (Siberia) or Europe.

The blog is very good as it makes fun of the paper it is criticizing.

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2015 by Austin Whittall © 


  1. Austin,

    For what its worth, with regards to languages, I ran across this a while back.

    "The weather impacts not only upon our mood but also our voice. An international research team including scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Psycholinguistics, Evolutionary Anthropology and Mathematics in the Sciences has analysed the influence of humidity on the evolution of languages. Their study has revealed that languages with a wide range of tone pitches are more prevalent in regions with high humidity levels. In contrast, languages with simpler tone pitches are mainly found in drier regions. This is explained by the fact that the vocal folds require a humid environment to produce the right tone."

  2. For many of the tonal languages, historical linguistics reconstructs ancestral stages where there were no tones. Tonogenesis is a very recent phenomenon in Punjabi for example, which is at the western end of the Hindustani continuum and the only Indo-Aryan language (to my knowledge) with tones. In this language, a low tone, contrasting with higher tone elsewhere, developed out of the contrast between voiced aspirated stop consonants and other stops; the voiced aspirates lost their voice and aspiration once the contrast shifted to the tone cooccurring with the following vowel.

    Similar processes (including the kind of syllable-final consonant) are at the root of the multiple tones of southeast Asian and Sinitic languages, as well as the Athabaskan languages (the Apachean languages of the US Southwest, including Navajo, and their cousins in the Canadian Northwest and Alaska).

    Moving back in time would remove many of the red and pink dots — though it is possible that many formerly tonal languages might have lost that feature without a trace, much as Swahili has in comparison with other Bantu languages, or Russian compared to South Slavic and Baltic languages, and indeed most Indo-European languages compared to the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language with its apparent tonal accent, still quite well preserved in ancient Greek and Sanskrit (and recorded as such in writing).


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