The Sounds of Language: An Inquiry into the Role of Genetic Factors in the Development of Sound Systems

The Sounds of Language: An Inquiry into the Role of Genetic Factors in the Development of Sound Systems

The Sounds of Language: An Inquiry into the Role of Genetic Factors in the Development of Sound Systems

The Sounds of Language: An Inquiry into the Role of Genetic Factors in the Development of Sound Systems

Excerpt

A community consists of individuals of a species. In human communities, with which the following pages will be almost exclusively concerned, each individual, save for the marginal cases of identical twins, is genetically different from every other individual in that the set of genes, the basic units of inheritance, which he has received from his parents, and which determine all his inherited characteristics, is unique. This uniqueness is, of course, of the particular combination formed by this set of genes, i.e. of the genotype, for each of the separate genes of an individual is also possessed by other members of the species. In fact the number of genes shared by individuals may be taken as a measure of the closeness of their genetic relationship. But in his particular genotype any human individual is endowed with an inherited potentiality of development which is characteristic of that individual and unique in the species.

A population of individuals of a species spread over any relatively large area tends, particularly if the individuals are of a gregarious nature like man, to split up into groups, such that mating between the members of the same group is more common than between the members of different groups. The boundaries of these groups are influenced by any barrier to mating--a river difficult to cross, a forest, or with human beings, a political barrier, a difference in religion, or even, often, in trade or profession, in social or cultural background, any of these or similar hindrances to mating tending to increase the break up of a population, however homogeneous originally, into smaller groups. Even if there are no obstructions of any sort, as on a smooth, equally fertile plain, for instance, simple geographical distance will have the effect of limiting the probable mates to a small fraction of the possible and thus of setting up a series of groups which may overlap in space but will be distinguishable by different frequencies of matings between individuals at different points of the whole area.

These groups form the units with which the science of population genetics works. Each such group can be viewed as having a common set of ancestors and a common set of descendants. In . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.