PIE vs. Proto-World (Proto-Language) (fwd)

X99Lynx at aol.com X99Lynx at aol.com
Wed Aug 11 06:09:27 UTC 1999

In a message dated 8/10/99 11:35:34 PM, Rob McMahon (PhD) wrote:

<<So one might be tempted to say that Humans arose and divesified within
Africa.  These population underwent a dramatic expansion about 80 thousand
years ago and representatives from a limited number of these diversified
groups then subsequently moved out from Africa colonising the rest of the

Dr. McMahon is expressing the "Out of Africa" hypothesis of modern human
origins here.  The main opposing theory is commonly called "Multiregionalism"
which dates modern humanity significantly earlier (as far back as 2 million
years) and offers a much more complex picture of interaction among human

For the sake of balance, list members should be aware that the matter is not
settled and a summary of the issues (once again) can be found in the most
recent Scientific American (Aug 1999 p.13), 'IN FOCUS: IS OUT OF AFRICA GOING
OUT THE DOOR? - New doubts on a popular theory of human origins"  Aside from
question regarding calibration and mutation rates, fossil evidence may be
seen as conflicting with the "Out of Africa" theory.

In any case, under the category "Back Down to Earth", it is worthwhile
considering what is involved in correlating any language - documented or
reconstructed - with events occurring 100-50 thousands years ago.  A simple
reality check reminds us that we have just previously been arguing whether it
is even justified to date the origin of the entire IE family of languages
before 5500BC.  There is nothing wrong with speculation, but there is a
credibilty issue for serious scholarship in holding out that such speculation
can be in some way be confirmed by unsettled findings in other fields, whose
subject matter is not connected with language except in a very loose sense.

Steve Long

cc: rmcmahon at hgmp.mrc.ac.uk

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