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Posts Tagged ‘Origin of Afro-Asiatic Languages’

From Ethiopia to Chile: a 7-Year Walk to Trace Man’s Global Migration

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on January 10, 2013


A two-time Pulitzer Prize winning American writer and Journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek is undertaking an ambitious expedition to retrace on foot the path our ancient ancestors traveled as they migrated across the world.

The Ethiopia-to-Chile walk — which took human ancestors some 50,000 years to make — is called Out of Eden and is sponsored by National Geographic, the Knight Foundation and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, the American plans to write one major article a year with periodic updates every 100 miles or so.

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mtDNA Variation in East Africa

HumanMigrationLanguage diversity in East Africa fits well with its complicated genetic history. In Fleming words, ‘‘Ethiopia by itself has more languages than all of Europe, even counting all the so-called dialects of the Romance family’’ (Fleming, 2006).

All African linguistic phyla are found in East Africa:

  • Afro-Asiatic (AA)

  • Nilo-Saharan,

  • Niger-Congo

  • Khoisan

Among them, AA is the most differentiated, being represented by three:

  • Omotic

  • Cushitic

  • Semitic

of its six major clades:

  • Chadic

  • Berber

  • Egyptian

Omotic and Cushitic are considered the deepest clades of AA, and both are found almost exclusively in the Horn of Africa, along with the linguistic relict Ongota that is traditionally assigned to the Cushitic family but whose classification is still widely debated (Fleming, 2006).

These observations are in agreement with a North-Eastern African origin of the AA languages, most probably in pre-Neolithic times

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