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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MOTHER TONGUE, 15 Nov 2000
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
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In this pioneering work, the author presents compelling evidence for genetic affinity amongst, and one common origin for all the language families of the world. The first chapter provides an introduction to the methods and results of genetic linguistics, serving as a general background for the following thirteen studies. Here the author also discusses the biological taxonomy of modern humans, based on discoveries by human geneticists that the biological classification of the human species closely parallels the linguistic classifications postulated by long-range comparison. Recent advances in this field (human genome project) will no doubt provide further confirmation of these correspondences. The essays include, inter alia, Khoisan, Na-Dene and Amerind Etymologies, Proto-Yeniseian reconstructions with external comparisons (with Sergei A. Starostin), Linguistic Origins of Native Americans, Semantic Index to Greenberg's Amerind Etymologies, First and Second Person Pronouns in the World's Languages. By examining the Amerind etymology [MALIQ'A = swallow, throat] in detail, the author clearly demonstrates the common origin of a single root in language families throughout the world, a root which in Eurasian/Nostratic is the word for nursing, suckling and the female breast. In Indo-European the meaning shifted frm "nursing" to "milking" and in e.g. the Germanic languages, ultimately to the product "milk" itself. I found chapter 14: Global Etymologies (co-author John D. Bengtson) the most fascinating. Here 27 global etymologies are extensively and soundly documented in the form of a phonetic/semantic gloss followed by examples from many different languages families. For example [KANO = arm] is found in Khoisan, Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan, Indo-European, Uralic, Dravidian, Caucasian, Sino-Tibetan, Austro-Asiatic, Amerind and many more. The evidence for monogenesis is overwhelming and I hope that this book accelerates research towards the reconstruction of the mother tongue, Proto-Human. For those who are fascinated by the first language, I recommend the authors Allan R. Bomhard, John C. Kerns Aaron Dolgopolsky, Joseph H. Greenberg, Vitaly Shevoroshkin, John Bengtson.
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On the Origin of Languages
On the Origin of Languages by Merritt Ruhlen (Paperback - 31 Mar 1997)
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