Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Neanderthals & Rats in The Walls?

Curse you, Thornton, I'll teach you to faint at what my family do! ... 'Sblood, thou stinkard, I'll learn ye how to gust ... wolde ye swynke me thilke wys?... Magna Mater! Magna Mater!... Atys... Dia ad aghaidh's ad aodaun... agus bas dunarch ort! Dhonas 's dholas ort, agus leat-sa!... Ungl unl... rrlh ... chchch...

Thanks to T Peter Park for sending this along.

Neanderthals speak out after 30,000 years * 15:00 15 April 2008 * Ewen Callaway


Talk about a long silence – no one has heard their voices for 30,000years. Now the long-extinct Neanderthals are speaking up – or atleast a computer synthesiser is doing so on their behalf.
Robert McCarthy, an anthropologist at Florida Atlantic University inBoca Raton has used new reconstructions of Neanderthal vocal tractsto simulate the voice. He says the ancient human's speech lacked the"quantal vowel" sounds that underlie modern speech.
Quantal vowels provide cues that help speakers with different sizevocal tracts understand one another, says McCarthy, who was talkingat the annual meeting of the American Association of PhysicalAnthropologists in Columbus, Ohio, on April 11.
"They would have spoken a bit differently. They wouldn't have beenable to produce these quantal vowels that form the basis of spokenlanguage," he says.
Talking heads
In the 1970s, linguist Phil Lieberman, of Brown University inProvidence, Rhode Island, inferred the dimensions of the larynx of aNeanderthal based on its skull. His team concluded that Neanderthalspeech did not have the subtlety of modern human speech.
Some researchers have criticised this finding, citing archaeologicalevidence of an oral culture and even errors in Lieberman's originalvocal tract reconstruction.
Undeterred, the linguist teamed with McCarthy to simulate Neanderthalspeech based on new reconstructions of three Neanderthal vocaltracts. The 50,000-year old fossils all came from France.
By modelling the sounds the Neanderthal pipes would have made,McCarthy's team engineered the sound of a Neanderthal saying "E". Heplans to eventually simulate an entire Neanderthal sentence.
In contrast to a modern human "E", the Neanderthal version doesn'thave a quantal hallmark, which helps a listener distinguish the word"beat" from "bit," for instance.
Though subtle, the linguistic difference would have limitedNeanderthal speech, McCarthy says.
The language gene
That conclusion doesn't fit in with Neanderthals' large brains, whichmay have been an adaptation to language, says Erik Trinkaus, ananthropologist at Washington University in St Louis. "Ultimately whatis important is not the anatomy of the mouth but the neuronal controlof it."
Neanderthals may have also boasted the genes for language, Trinkaussays. Last year, researchers discovered that Neanderthals shared aversion of a gene called FOXP2 with humans.
People missing a copy of FOXP2 suffer from language and speechdisorders, and humans have a version of the gene that is differentfrom other animals – including chimpanzees, our nearest relatives.
Yet other genetic evidence suggests that spoken language shaped therecent evolution of humans. John Hawks, a biological anthropologistat the University of Wisconsin in Madison, also spoke at the Ohiomeeting. He says that some genes important to hearing changed rapidlyin modern humans, perhaps because the genes helped decode new, morecomplex spoken languages.
"Something's changing in the last 40,000 years," he says. "Maybe thisis because our ears are becoming tuned to listening to sounds thathave recently been changing."

1 comment:

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It puts up decorative pine trees at the gate(門松) on Japan, and there is a custom of
going to visit a shrine on New Year's Day (初詣)

When the New Year is received, the gate, the door or the bamboo basket pine is
called a New year's pine decoration(門松).
It is said that "Toshicami" gets off this pine as a sign at the New Year.
Generally, everything from the New Year's Day to the 7th is said, "In the pine"(松の内).

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