Of temperature and tone: Has climate shaped human languages?
by Mary Caperton Morton
April 20, 2015
I participated in this journalism in January and February, and Morton wrote a great, balanced article. She was good enough to send the story in advance, allowing me to double-check my quotes. Still, the piece changed a bit during the editing process. Probably for reasons of length, the original surprise ending - where I had the last word! - was removed. Here it is:
'But it may take more than a few experimental games of telephone to convince linguists that languages evolve in response to environmental changes, Johnson says. "They're trying to suggest that the same forces that shape human cultures also shape human language. And since, quite obviously, aspects of human culture, especially material culture, reflect the physical environment, they expect language to do so too. But the interplay between culture and language has been a hotly debated topic for decades."'