Thursday, June 13, 2013

Languages May Be Shaped By Geography

Languages containing sounds called ejectives are more common in high-altitude regions (dark circles represent languages with ejectives, clear circles represent those without ejectives). 


The way different languages sound may depend on the geography of the landscape on which they're spoken, new research suggests.

A study of more than 550 languages around the world found that tongues spoken in high-altitude regions contain more sounds called ejective consonants, made with a burst of air, than languages closer to sea level.

Ejectives may be more common in these regions because the sounds are easier to produce there, or possibly because they minimize water loss from the mouth in dry, high-altitude environments, said study author Caleb Everett, an anthropological linguist at the University of Miami.

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