? Polygenesis, Out of Africa

Larry Trask larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk
Tue Aug 24 13:42:08 UTC 1999

On Fri, 20 Aug 1999 ECOLING at aol.com wrote:

> Just one point on the discussions.

> It is EVEN possible
> (though not the simplest explanation from some points
> of view, Nature need not be simple)

> that Neanderthals had several languages,
> from independent sources,

If Neandertals had language at all -- and this is debated -- then they
undoubtedly had a number of different languages at any given time, just
like us.

> and these languages were separately inherited
> by different groups of modern humans.

Sorry, but I can't see this.

The position of the Neandertals in our family tree is still much
debated, but the majority view still sees them as *not* being among our
direct ancestors.  So, if Neandertals had language, then surely so did
the common ancestor of Neandertals and modern humans, and no appeal to
"borrowing" from Neandertals is necessary or appropriate.

Anyway, our ancestors could not have acquired language unless they
already had a language faculty.  And, if they had a language faculty,
then surely they would already have possessed language themselves.

> So inheritance from Neanderthals
> does NOT necessarily imply monogenesis?

No, but inheritance (or borrowing) of language from Neandertals strains
my credulity to the breaking point.

Larry Trask
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

larryt at cogs.susx.ac.uk

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