University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


Remo Nitschke


In this paper I will show that using data from other fields, such as genetics may be very valuable to linguistics, but that we must take care to ensure that the data we use from other fields are suitable for the kinds of linguistic arguments we want to make. I will show this by way of a particular argument in Huybregts (2017) regarding the nature of click-phonemes and what they can tell us about human language evolution in the light of certain genetic data. I will show that the data they use is unsuitable for that specific argument. I will further provide different genetic evidence that calls theirs into question and provide some additional linguistic considerations that support a different view of the matter. Finally, I will propose an alternative story on the historical nature of click phonemes in these languages, suggesting that clicks might be a more recent linguistic innovation.



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