Herodotus Returns

More on Bering Language Bridge
July 15, 2010, 8:55 am
Filed under: Native Americans, Siberia

Here’s another good article on the research which ties Siberians to Native Americans linguistically, which I posted on recently. It cites how words associated with the canoe led to the breakthroughs. The charming part of the story is the Yukon-based natives ‘forging cultural and political’ ties with the few hundred Siberians who speak Ket. In April, apparently, they sent ambassadors to Moscow to meet with their long-lost linguistic brothers. What I wouldn’t have given to see that meeting.

The collection of articles by Vajda and other experts details a multitude of clear connections — nouns, verbs and key grammatical structures — between the language spoken by the Ket people of Russia’s Yenisei River region and dozens of languages used by North American aboriginal groups.

The newly recognized link has prompted the Yukon-based Arctic Athabaskan Council to begin forging cultural and political ties with Russia’s tiny population of Ket speakers. They live 8,000 kilometres west of Whitehorse and are separated from their linguistic cousins in North America by some 10,000 years of history.

University of Alberta linguist Jack Ives writes in the essay collection that “the question of just how such a distribution arose — with a separation between Siberia and northwestern North America involving thousands of kilometres — is simply fascinating.”

Full article here.


Link between ancient asian and north american languages

Genetic evidence supports the fact that people – at least during one migration – arrived in the Americas via the Bering land bridge between Siberia and and modern-day Alaska. Now, one researcher is teasing out linguistic evidence. Edward Vajda, of the University of Washington, is revealing connections between the language of the isolated Ket people of central Siberia and about 45 different Native American languages. Here’s an excerpt from an article I found, but I recommend you read the whole article – pretty fascinating stuff.

The importance of studying a disappearing language goes far beyond a personal linguistic interest, Vajda explained.

“It’s a new way to understand human prehistory before there were historians to write it down. Isolated languages like Ket have developed features that are very unusual and interesting, and they help us to understand the human mind and human language ability.”

“We linguists should not be the focus of attention here,” Vajda added. “What is important are the languages and especially the Native communities themselves.”

The rest of the article, here.