Human sound systems are shaped by post-Neolithic changes in bite configuration

Science Vol/Iss. 363(6432) Science/American Association for the Advancement of Science Published In Pages: 1-10
By Blasi, D.E. , Moran, S. , Moisik, S.R. , Widmer, P. , Dediu, D. , Bickel, B.


Using ethnography, historical linguistics, paleoanthropology, and speech biomechanics, the present study examines the relationship between labiodentals and the post-Neolithic period with the introduction of agriculture and softer diets. The results offer support for the linguist, Charles Hockett's, hypothesis that the shift in bite configuration in the post-Neolithic period, as well as the persistence of overbite and overjet, facilitates and makes the articulation of labiodentals more prevalent. Using cross-cultural comparison, findings also reveal that societies that produce their food are more likely to evolve and keep labiodentals than those that are not food-producing. Contact with other societies is also a mode by which societies gain labiodentals. Lastly, the expansion of agricultural and food processing technology over time has been imperative to labiodental articulations.


For the study, researchers define labiodentals to consist of affricates ("pf", "bv"), an approximant ("v"), fricatives ("f", "v"), a nasal ("m"), and a tap ("v").


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
OtherPreviously Coded PHOIBLE; AUTOTYP; Guldermann, McConvell, & Rhodes (2019)

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:matthew.g.roth noah.rossen milagro.escobar