Thanks to another network analysis of linguistic data — previous story [here](http://johnlaudun.org/20110414-some-possible-revisions-to-generative-linguistics/) — scholars seem to have traced the origin of language to … well, to the origin of human beings in eastern Africa. The Economist has a [write-up](http://www.economist.com/node/18557572).
While the Ars Technica article is rather superficial, and assumes that the work of several generation of linguists is rather easily overthrown, the research written up is quite interesting:
By treating language features like subject-verb order as a trait, the authors were able to perform this sort of analysis on four different language families: 79 Indo-European languages, 130 Austronesian languages, 66 Bantu languages, and 26 Uto-Aztecan languages. Although we don’t have a complete roster of the languages in those families, they include over 2,400 languages that have been evolving for a minimum of 4,000 years.
The results, according to the article itself: “most observed functional dependencies between traits are lineage-specific rather than universal tendencies.”
I can’t tell if this [set of photographs on Flickr](http://www.flickr.com/photos/pargon/sets/72157623594187379/) is the work of one person or many, but it’s pretty amazing documentation of signs seen at recent Tea Party events, a number of which feature unfortunate, if not highly ironic, misunderstandings of grammar or spelling of the English language.