Sunday, June 03, 2007

Can't Master Mandarin's Tones? Blame Your Genes!

Even though this is in the Scientific American, I still think this is fishy. Some Scottish linguists claim to have found a correlation between certain genes and populations speaking tonal languages:
During a study of linguistic and genetic data from 49 distinct populations, the authors discovered a striking correlation between two genes involved in brain development and language tonality. Populations that speak nontonal languages (where the pitch of a spoken word does not affect its meaning) have newer versions of the genes, with mutations that began to appear roughly 37 thousand years ago.

If you're not ethnically Chinese, don't quit those Chinese classes just yet. The authors of the study admit it could be coincidental.

No comments: