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Genes and linguistic tone

Ladd, D. R., & Dediu, D. (2013). Genes and linguistic tone. In H. Pashler (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the mind (pp. 372-373). London: Sage Publications.
It is usually assumed that the language spoken by a human community is independent of the community's genetic makeup, an assumption supported by an overwhelming amount of evidence. However, the possibility that language is influenced by its speakers' genes cannot be ruled out a priori, and a recently discovered correlation between the geographic distribution of tone languages and two human genes seems to point to a genetically influenced bias affecting language. This entry describes this specific correlation and highlights its major implications. Voice pitch has a variety of communicative functions. Some of these are probably universal, such as conveying information about the speaker's sex, age, and emotional state. In many languages, including the European languages, voice pitch also conveys certain sentence-level meanings such as signaling that an utterance is a question or an exclamation; these uses of pitch are known as intonation. Some languages, however, known as tone languages, nian ...
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

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