Genetic differences among language families in Europe

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Abstract

We investigated whether 59 allele frequencies and 10 cranial variables differed among speakers of the 12 modern language families in Europe. Although this is a classical analysis of variance design, special techniques had to be developed for the analysis because of spatial autocorrelation of both biological and language data. The method examines pooled sums of squares within language families. These are compared with the same quantities obtained by randomly partitioning the available data points in Europe into internally cohesive subsets representing the same sample sizes for each language family as in the originally observed data. Our results suggest that for numerous genetic systems, population samples differ more among language families than they do within families. These findings are considered in relation to two contrasting models: a model of random spatial differentiation of gene frequencies unrelated to language and a model of aboriginal genetic differences among speakers of different language groups. Our observed findings suggest partial validity of both models.

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