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Research reveals the first-ever language spoken by the people of North America

Boasting a rich history, Native Americans' linguistic diversity is now believed to originate from two ancient Siberian mother tongues.

Research reveals the first-ever language spoken by the people of North America
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Sami Aksu; IFL Science | Johanna Nichols

History has much more to find the deeper one gets. There is so much to learn about the world and recently a study on language history has answered many questions. American Journal of American Anthropology recently revealed in a study that the languages of Native Americans hold traces of Siberian mother tongues and the story gets more intriguing and full of knowledge, per IFL Science. Although modern America is home to languages such as English and Spanish, research indicates that Siberian mother tongues made their way to the continent tens of thousands of years ago. The study revealed over 200 separate language families, indicating a vast diversity of dialects.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Beatriz Braga
Representative Image Source: Pexels| Beatriz Braga

While it is still challenging to analyze and understand how the language spread, the same was brought into the country when the Siberia to Alaska passage opened. Johanna Nichols from the University of California, Berkeley, attempted to study over 60 different languages in North America that spanned families over the region. These were carefully grouped for better classification until two founding clusters came into the picture. One of these included Siberian immigrants who made their way through and when glaciation forced the groups to mingle for settling, distinct languages were formed as a result. These initial dialects were mixed and reformed over the years to give rise to the many languages with distinct attributes compared to English and other languages.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Sami Aksu
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Sami Aksu

Similarly, Western Washington University declared that there is a bridge between the language of the Native Americans and Siberia. Ed Vajda, who played a significant role in the research and study of the same, shared his input. He said, “It was long assumed that the major pulse across the land bridge from Siberia to Alaska happened about 14,000 years ago. But new findings showed that there had also been a second, smaller pulse that began about 5,000 years ago. Who were they, and what languages did they bring with them?” The curiosity was much and the hints were just a few, so Vajda joined Pavel Flegontov, a biologist and geneticist at the University of Ostrava in the Czech Republic, to enhance the study.

“Pavel began testing DNA, and what he found was two-fold: that the Na-Dene have a genetic base of the First Peoples mixed with a minority component derived from the newcomers that crossed the Bering Strait,” Vajda said. It undoubtedly indicated that the Native Americans indeed had a rich history that went to Siberian roots. While there is much more to unravel in the story with time, Nichols is convinced that much of the Native Americans’ vivid language and diversity also stem from a similar past. She said that “structural profiles imply that two linguistically distinct and internally diverse ancient Siberian linguistic populations provided the founding American populations.”

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Terence B
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Terence B

Also, Nichols mentioned that the ancient learnings are still held in high regard and added that not much has changed and even what influenced the Natives tens of thousands of years ago is very much present and influential today. Nichols said, “The dominant structural properties among the founder languages are still reflected in the modern linguistic populations.” An enriched, overflowing and intriguing past indeed.

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