The social lives of isolates (and small language families): The case of the Northwest Amazon

Rik Van Gijn*, Sietze Norder, Leonardo Arias, Nicholas Q. Emlen, Matheus C. B. C. Azevedo, Allison Caine, Saskia Dunn, Austin Howard, Nora Julmi, Olga Krasnoukhova, Mark Stoneking, Jurriaan Wiegertjes

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

    OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

    2 Citaten (Scopus)
    49 Downloads (Pure)


    The Americas are home to patches of extraordinary linguistic (genealogical) diversity. These high-diversity areas are particularly unexpected given the recent population of the Americas. In this paper, we zoom in on one such area, the Northwest Amazon, and address the question of how the diversity in this area has persisted to the present. We contrast two hypotheses that claim opposite mechanisms for the maintenance of diversity: the isolation hypothesis suggests that isolation facilitates the preservation of diversity, while the integration hypothesis proposes that conscious identity preservation in combination with contact drives diversity maintenance. We test predictions for both hypotheses across four disciplines: biogeography, cultural anthropology, population genetics and linguistics. Our results show signs of both isolation and integration, but they mainly suggest considerable diversity in how groups of speakers have interacted with their surroundings.
    Originele taal-2English
    Aantal pagina's22
    TijdschriftInterface Focus
    Nummer van het tijdschrift1
    StatusPublished - 6-feb.-2023

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