Language Bridge Across the Bering Strait

An article in the Ottawa Citizen tells of linguistic researchers who have discovered connections between Ket, a language spoken by a few hundred people in Siberia, and Dene, a language of Canada’s native Americans. The work isn’t new, evidently it’s been around for a few years, but I was unaware of it and the article is a good account (a relatively rare occurrence in reporting on linguistics).

The Yup’ik language has long been known to straddle the hemispheric dividing line, but the Yup’iks are relative newcomers to North America. The Ket-Dene connection points to an older migration of people, perhaps part of the original migration of humans to the Western Hemisphere at the end of the Ice Age. (The Ottawa Citizen article conflates the Yup’ik and Inuit languages. They are part of the same language family, but are not the same language. Unlike Yup’ik, Inuit is spoken exclusively in North America and Greenland.)

(Hat tip to The Lousy Linguist)

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