Reader Comments

Post a new comment on this article

Some Population Dynamics for Consideration

Posted by EP1987 on 24 Apr 2013 at 10:03 GMT

Two good explanations for a non-relationship of Y-chromosomes to language structure, are the imposition of a single male elite population over multiple language groups, or the imposition of distinct new languages on an existing regional Y-chromosome population. Or both.

For the first model we have one of the elephants in the room of New World peopling to consider -- the well-known Kennewick Man, and the well-suppressed Spirit Cave Man and others:


As not everyone is quite fully aware, there was a pan-Eurasian Caucasoid distribution in the late Pleistocene, with the Q Y-chromosome representing its eastern range in East Asia. Q is of course the sibling of the European R types, at the end of the Caucasoid branch of the Y-chromosome tree.

This eastern Caucasoid population probably first overlaid its Q Y-chromosome (to some degree) over various less-dominant proto-Mongoloid language groups still in Asia. Then some of those populations migrated to the New World, probably in tiny groups by land and sea, before, during, and after the last glacial maximum.

Then there is a good chance that the original Caucasoid Q population itself migrated, appearing as Clovis and/or the Old Cordilleran, and Kennewick Man and Spirit Cave Man (if those are not all Solutrean) -- and overlaid its Q Y-chromosomes again over the radically distinct language groups that had started spreading out in the Americas.

The Kennewick/Spirit Cave language incidentally, exerting a superstratum influence, may be what Greenberg mistakes for signs of his Amerind genetic macro-family.

For the second model, of languages imposed over Y-chromosomes, we have that other elephant in the room of New World peopling, the many signs of later foreign physical types and cultures appearing in the Americas -- most prominently, or at least protruberantly, those Middle Eastern aquiline noses:

If foreign males with R or J or E Y-chromosomes brought some of the New World language groups with them, there might be a relationship of Y-chromosomes to language structure after all. But typically (although reportedly not for this study) when such Y-chromosomes are found by researchers in indigenous populations, they are dismissed as being of colonial era origin.

In any case, the remaining indigenous populations today will tend to lack the elites of the pre-Columbian era to varying degrees, wiped out in warfare or absorbed into the colonial Mestizo or white elite classes. The Inca ruling class is called "fair" by chroniclers, not a description of present Quechua peasants. The Aztec royalty not burnt at the stake by the conquistadors, ended up titled nobility of the Spanish Empire. The place to find these Y-chromosomes may be in a posh neighborhood of a city, not a jungle, by the difficult task of distinguishing a J Y-chromosome that arrived in 2000 BC versus 1500 AD.

And no, skull and nose shapes don't change overnight in response to climate (aquiline and flat noses notably cohabiting in Meso-America). And no, there wasn't a Noah's Ark in Beringia of every human physical characteristic, lined up two by two, and waiting for the permission of today's "anti-imperialist" leftist anthropology establishment, to pour into Alaska at the firing of a starting pistol.

No competing interests declared.