Re: The Anthroplogy of the New World

Gerold Firl (
7 Dec 1994 12:53:09 -0800

In article <3c2rf6$> (Scott C DeLancey) writes:

> One archeologist (Ruth Gruhn) and one linguist (Johanna
>Nichols) claim that the distribution (Gruhn) and/or the diversity
>(Nichols) of New World languages imply ~40-50,000 years of habitation,
>but neither argument is very strong. I would say, though, that the
>New World languages are sufficiently divergent that, if they all
>represent descent from one migration, it was more likely 15-20,000
>than 10-12,000 years ago.

Many years ago I saw a map of north american indian languages, color-
coded into some kind of classificatory heirarchy, which appeared to
indicate that at least three separate migration events had taken place,
where the inuit were the latest.

I would also expect that unusually high rates of linguistic divergance
would occur under the circumstances of rapid radiation into diverse
environments which existed during the initial american expansion.

Do you know when the previous interglacial occured? I would expect that the
bering crossing would have to be accomplished when the ice had retreated
enough to expose exploitable terrain, but not so much as to flood the
continental shelf.

>I'm not sure what you're saying here. The Inuit have been in North
>America considerably less than 12,000 years, but, as you say, have
>presumably been living in the frozen north for a long time.

The previous poster had nominated the inuit as a possible example of
american evolution-in-action; I was pointing out that they branched-
off from the amerindian stock farther back than the rest of the tribes, so
could be expected to show greater divergance.

A side-issue: on re-reading _ishi, the last yahi_, by kroeber, I noticed a
claim that california showed greated linguistic diversity per mile than any
place on earth outside of new guineau and southern sudan. California does
not have the rugged terrain of new guineau, nor has it been inhabited for
anything like the span of time that man has been in the african savanna.
Any idea how this situation occured?

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf