Language Study Adds Evidence to Central Asia – North America Links


Diana Gish/KMXT

A recent language study has offered more proof to support the connection between central Asia and the native populations of North America. While the theory has been around for a few centuries, scientists have never come to full agreement about it.

A new book published by the University of Alaska is now adding more weight to the theory and is creating a buzz among academics from multiple disciplines. The book examines culture change, language and genetics and is called The Dene-Yeniseian Connection. It’s a publication of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ department of Anthropology and the Alaska Native Language Center.

James Kari is a professor emeritus of the University and one of the book’s editors. He appeared on KMXT’s Talk of the Rock where he explained the hypothesis that the book addresses.

(Language Family 1 "There is enough … still spoken today.")

The centerpiece of the book, which is a collection of academic articles, is the research by Doctor Edward Vajda, a linguistics expert from Western Washington University. Vajda has studied the language of the remote Ket people of the Yenisei river in central Siberia. In the village of Ket there are around twelve hundred people. Of those, only 100 people still speak Ket which is not a Russian language. Other languages from that area that are similar to Ket have already died off. In the book,Vajda documents close similarities between the Ket language, and North America’s Na-Dene family of languages.

(Language Family 2 "When you look … seem to be shared.")

When Vajda appeared on APRN’s Alaska News Nightly he explained some of the unique features the two language groups share.

(Language Family 3 "It appeared to … The Na Dene Family.")

Vajda emphasized that while the research offers linguistic proof of the link between central Asia and Native North American languages, it encompasses many other disciplines as well. Others that contributed to the new book include Kari’s co-editor, Ben Potter who is an archeology professor at UAF.

(Language Family 4 "Ben Potter’s article … or more years.")

Scholars are currently reviewing the collection of writings in The Dene-Yeniseian Connection. Kari said that they’ll be the ones to determine whether or not the supporting research is solid enough to accept as fact.

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