50 Comments

  1. SciShow

    Go to http://Brilliant.org/SciShow to try out Brilliant’s Daily Challenges. The first 200 subscribers get 20% off an annual Premium subscription.

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  2. Ken O

    The mention of P sound becoming F, and B sound becoming V.
    Two points.
    1. The B sound is formed the same way as P, except that B also uses the vocal cords. Same for V and F.
    2. In Hebrew, the same letter (2nd letter in alphabet) ב is pronounced B and V. But it's pronunciation in a word depends on grammatical rules. Later, a dot was added to make it easier for the reader to know which to pronounce. The same for P and F, they are the same Hebrew letter פ, and if it's the first letter of a word it is P; if it's the last letter, it's an F. So Pharaoh in Hebrew is Paro.

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  3. David Robinson

    "Padre" didn't become "father"; they both come from a common Proto-Indo-European root (*pəter-) "father" via Proto-Germanic "*fader" and "padre" via Latin "pater," but either way, this is an example of Grimm's Law, which likely has nothing to do with agriculture — unless one is to say that the Germanic peoples used more agriculture than did Italic, Hellenic, Indo-Iranian, etc. peoples.

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  4. Meghan Ushman

    I wouldn't say that there was an elephant in the room. I really don't think most people pay that much attention to consonant sounds to say "oh, you don't say P or V sounds, so I'm better than you."

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  5. tristanjff

    I think I read somewhere that there was another theory that overbites became more common in many places after the invention/introduction of forks. Is that still a discussed theory?

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  6. gualberto micolano

    Our acestor had very, very long been breathing, and presumably very long been aware of the fact that they were breathing and making some some sort of sound by simply letting that "wind" (wfffwwwv vvvfffffssssss..), watever they were calling it, out of their mouths. There were these, say, not well-defined sounds. It's air (hchaaaiiii hhch hairrrr…) they were moving from inside their lungs and into their lungs. So it's a complex matter anyway, but let's not forget basic facts as that we live above water (and marine mammals under water).
    Not saying that this video was not interesting and informative, but there was some cherry picking.

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  7. Solublemoth

    I'll be honest I don't follow your last point about it being or leading to racism or ethnocentrism, feels like you made a bit of a logical leap there

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  8. Afrika Smith

    That’s not surprising since humans got slightly shorter after agriculture was discovered. Agriculture changed humans in so many ways with a lot of upsides and downsides.

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  9. Jack Jensen

    The Vs in "Veni Vidi Vici" were pronounced in Rome like Ws are in modern English, so that would've marked a step in that progression but not an example of later, harsher labiodentals

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  10. BigSocks

    Padre and father are not linguistically related. Father has a Germanic root (vater). A better example would have been ph words in English, or pf words like pferd or empfehlen in German.

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  11. Sagacious Eagle

    I think diet has very little to do with how a language phonology evolves. Language dynamics should have more to do with cultural interactions.

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  12. deadeaded

    Good lord… of all the objections one might have to this theory, "that's racist" is the one we're going with? Really? Since when does reality care if the truth is PC?

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  13. Andrew Marshall

    Given indigenous Australians were separated from the rest of the world for over 40,000 years, how do there languages fit with this?

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  14. LandgraabIV

    It is true that the voiceless bilabial stop /p/ in PIE became a labiodental fricative /f/ in modern Germanic languages, but it should be stated that it was not an isolated change, but rather it should be seen in the context of the Germanic sound shift as described by the Grimm's law. Voiceless stops /p t k kw/ (and not only /p/) systematically became fricatives in Proto-Germanic, and an edge bite cannot explain the sound shift as a whole. Also, the phoneme /p/ did not disappear in the aforementioned languages, as expected if it were simply easier to pronounce it as an /f /. Instead, it was a chain shift in which /b/ became /p/ and /p/ became /f/. Internally, it is safe to assume that /b/ becoming /p/ caused the latter to turn into an /f/ to preserve distinctiveness. Finally, if /p/ becomes an /f/ in Germanic languages as a result of an edge bite, it would folllw that /b/ should have become a /v/ for the same reason, which is not the case. It seems like they cherry-picked the evidence to support their claim.

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  15. Ian Wilson

    Maybe the people with the overbite that could use the F / V sounds easier ended up communicating better therefore breeding more and had an influence on the outcome also. Communication including verbal communication is the biggest factor when it comes to your Status / potential money you can earn so is all a big factor when comes to your ability to attract a potential partner.

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  16. Dániel Gajdos

    That is quite probably the least far-fetched linguistic theory I've ever heard. Although my base source is my granddad, so this is not quite surprising… This still sounds pretty plausible though!

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  17. G G

    I’d be interested in knowing how this relates to the quantity of sounds. I know from school that there’s something like 3-4 times the amount of sounds in !Kung that there are in English. It seems to me like the relative sizes of the communities of speakers might select for a more standardized/ streamlined language for the agricultural societies, which have more people. I’d be interested in similar statistical models reporting on that, especially because it adds in factors that I think this study misses (ie potential overemphasis on diet as though that’s the only variable operative here, even though agriculture clearly changed quite a lot about the way people lived).

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  18. HisRoyalCarlness

    More episodes like this one, but one note: The pursuit of quantifiable knowledge about real physical things or events is 'never' racist. You start using terms that way and you get Orwellian society. Racism is action. 'If' science could verifiable prove that one "race" loosely, on average had genetics that lead to statistically significant differences in intelligence it wouldn't be 'racist' to acknowledge and explore that (not that that is a thing in real life, because it isn't, this is just a controversial example for the point.) It'd be racist, or ethnocentrism to 'act' on that knowledge or use it as an excuse to oppress people on the basis of their race, as opposed to approaching every person as a valid individual and letting what they can or cannot achieve speak for itself. The truth is not racist, pursuit of the truth is not racist, treating people differently on the basis of their race is racist.

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  19. Marcus Daniel

    In Indonesia, either naturally or a common mispronounciation, stereotipically attributed to Sundanese which often change the F or V into P (so eF into eP or ePh). Example: philosophy which in Indonesian Filosofi (which actually sounded similar to english) is read Pilosopi (pi ~ pin, lo ~ low, so ~ sow).

    Is it cultural? Or perhaps biological?

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  20. Felipe Carvalho

    Hold on. We cook from far far far more time then we made aggressive agriculture (the difference here meaning that many trad folks also do lots of hoticulture)

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  21. GiggitySam Entz

    If you want to hear more about the evolution of language and what Proto-Indo-European sounds like, there's a good video on Draw Curiosity : https://youtu.be/x-x9EUCTzRo

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  22. Gnorts Mr Alien

    Humans have used fire for hundreds of thousands of years, possibly a million. The idea that cooking came into the picture only 12,000 years ago seems a bit far-fetched. Isn't there a hypothesis that better nutrition from cooked food allowed the larger brain size of modern humans to develop in the first place?

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  23. Myka Lipscomb

    I think this theory is ridiculous. There are lots of people who speak languages that do not have "v" or "f" sounds, and have lived in agricultural societies for just as long or longer than peoples who speak a language with those sounds. It feels like a messed up way to say that those communities are somehow less evolved. Like social Darwinism is making a comeback.

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  24. Matthew Cooper

    You said certain types of sounds are common at altitude. I believe you are talking about ejectives, and I also believe that hypothesis is quite controversial in linguistics. There is also evidence that humid climates give rise to more tonal languages and that alcohol consumption is associated with consonant clusters.

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  25. Howard Wiggins

    So accusations of racism impede scientific study?

    When will people learn that identity politics goes against rational scientific thought?

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  26. acoustikangaroo

    You should probably just say [p] instead of p-sound, pronounce the symbols like the International Phonetic Alphabet, it might be clearer what you mean

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  27. Patrick McCurry

    Way back in college taking paleoanthroplogy, I wondered why all other hominids fossils had that perfect tooth alignment, but we didn't. I never knew it was a juvenile feature.

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  28. GIANT INTERNET NAME

    I downvoted this when another channel tried to pass this off as science. Here's how to test, sit there and see how many different ways with your mouth you can make an F sound. There are like 8. To say that F sounds didn't exist because one method didn't exist is so entirely absurd that you can't call it science.

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  29. Raposa Raposa

    Sounds like a lot of nonsense. There are thousands of fenomes, most of which we cannot distinguish after two years of age. We learn to hear only few that we hear around us.

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  30. Michael Elbert

    Great now I know why every word I said when I was a little kid started with a f my mom knew better than to try to get me to say the word truck

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