Some observations on typological features of hunter-gatherer languages

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The introduction of agriculture is a major event in human history, and this article offers a preliminary investigation into whether there might be structural features of language correlating with the distinction between languages spoken by hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists. A number of feature values treated in the <i>World Atlas of Language Structures</i> suggest promising results, in particular in relation to constituent order, phonology, and lexical typology. Hunter-gatherer languages favor (or agriculturalist languages disfavor) absence of a dominant order of major sentence constituents, absence of adpositions, absence of a dominant constituent order of noun and genitive, presence of subject clitics on a variable host, presence of initial interrogatives; a small vowel inventory, no tone, no voicing opposition in plosives and fricatives; and the lexicalization Finger = Hand &#8800; Arm.


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