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Coevolution of languages and genes

Abstract : The evolution of languages shares certain characteristics with that of genes, such as the predominantly vertical line of transmission and the retention of traces of past events such as contact. Thus, studies of language phylogenies and their correlations with genetic phylogenies can enrich our understanding of human prehistory, while insights gained from genetic studies of past population contact can help shed light on the processes underlying language contact and change. As demonstrated by recent research, these evolutionary processes are more complex than simple models of gene-language coevolution predict, with linguistic boundaries only occasionally functioning as barriers to gene flow. More frequently, admixture takes place irrespective of linguistic differences, but with a detectable impact of contact-induced changes in the languages concerned.
Keywords : Linguistics
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Brigitte Pakendorf. Coevolution of languages and genes. Current Opinion in Genetics and Development, Elsevier, 2014, 29, pp.39-44. ⟨10.1016/j.gde.2014.07.006⟩. ⟨halshs-01178752⟩

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