Did Dietary Changes Bring Us ‘F’ Words? Study Tackles Complexities of Language’s Origins

“What came first?” he asked. “The changes in the speech, or the changes in the brain?”

Ray Jackendoff, a linguist at Tufts University who was not involved in the study, said the group’s finding that the ease of saying some sounds may vary with diet “is interesting but not earthshaking.” That different cultures may have uttered certain sounds more often than others “doesn’t say much about the deep history of language.”

Other cultural and social factors, like adopting sounds from neighbors, also may have contributed to changes in language, the study’s authors said. For example, when hunter-gatherer groups and agrarian groups mixed, so did their sounds.

And others point out that labiodental sounds have even been found…

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