Bushmen palate: it’s all about the clicks

“it has been observed by several researchers that the Khoisan palate ends to lack a prominent alveolar ridge.”

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11 Responses to Bushmen palate: it’s all about the clicks

  1. Ursiform says:

    Born to click …

  2. MawBTS says:

    Wow, that’s cool.

    Is this a genetic adaptation? Apparently Khoi-san also have a bump on their larynx, but when a white linguist learned click-tongue he developed a similar bump.


  3. Jim says:

    Interesting. Clicks are velar suction sounds. The mouth may be closed at the alveolar ridge before release but there are also dental and lateral clicks. The exclamation point ! often seen in transcriptions of Khoisan words is an alveolar click. Lack of an alveolar ridge should affect alveolar non-click sounds as well such as s/z and t/d.

  4. BB753 says:

    Interesting! Where does this graph come from?

  5. Philip Neal says:

    Is there any information about ancestral Khoisan palates? It would be interesting if the languages evolved to suit the mouth, and even more interesting if the mouth evolved to suit the languages.

  6. marobane says:

    It’s not necessarily genetic. Speaking some terrible and rudimentary Xhosa myself, the suction required to produce these sounds at first requires considerable effort, and not inconsiderable force. If you have been regularly producing these sounds front infancy, it is likely that it will cause distorted development of the palate. Thumbsucking ruins jawline and tooth development, why should clicks not have an impact? I heard about this from a linguist friend of mine, but he cannot mention discoveries like this, since the taboo on these sorts of measurements is obvious. Particularly in South Africa and Namibia; we have had our history of science-for-white-supremacy, so people are kinda superstitious about the social consequences of asking unpalatable (see what I did there) questions.

  7. Kamran says:

    I wonder if native Arabic speakers have more cavernous pharynges, and on the same page, whether native Russian speakers have special palates.

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