Categories : Language Development

 

Science Magazine article Human Language May be Shaped by Climate and Terrain by Emily Underwood discusses the fascinating phenomenon of acoustic adaptation.  Researchers are learning that human language development may be influenced by our environments.  Underwood compares Hawaiian and Georgian as an example: “Hawaiian language flow melodically from vowel to vowel, whereas Georgian is peppered with consonants…”  

 

After studying over 600 languages, significant relationships emerge between the sounds of language and the land and climate the language is spoken.  Scientists have observed a pattern…

 

“Languages in hotter, more forested regions such as the tropics tended to be “sonorous,” employing lower frequency sounds and using fewer distinct consonants, whereas languages in colder, drier, more mountainous places were consonant-heavy”.  

 

Driving factors of this difference appears to be: humidity, forested environment, tree cover (or lack thereof), and terrain (rocky vs. smoother topography).  

 

Although this study is still new and solely correlational, these truly fascinating findings of climate and land affecting language is regarded in the scientific community as a “totally reasonable idea”.  

 

 

Thank you!

Mahalo! (Hawaiian- thank you)

Madloba gadagikhadot! (Georgian pronunciation of thank you)

 

… Ah, well, they both start with the “M” sound.  🙂

 



About

Hannah is the Program Director and session leader at Two Right Feet. She develops new literacy and reading programs for schools, libraries, and family resource centers and also leads our sessions.

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