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Conference Paper

Exploring potential climate effects on the evolution of human sound systems


Roberts,  Sean G.
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;


Blasi,  Damián
Department of Linguistics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Roberts, S. G., Everett, C., & Blasi, D. (2015). Exploring potential climate effects on the evolution of human sound systems. In H. Little (Ed.), Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences [ICPhS 2015] Satellite Event: The Evolution of Phonetic Capabilities: Causes constraints, consequences (pp. 14-19). Glasgow: ICPHS.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0027-A42C-A
We suggest that it is now possible to conduct research on a topic which might be called evolutionary geophonetics. The main question is how the climate influences the evolution of language. This involves biological adaptations to the climate that may affect biases in production and perception; cultural evolutionary adaptations of the sounds of a language to climatic conditions; and influences of the climate on language diversity and contact. We discuss these ideas with special reference to a recent hypothesis that lexical tone is not adaptive in dry climates (Everett, Blasi & Roberts, 2015).