Geographical Origins of Language Structures

81 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2018

See all articles by Oded Galor

Oded Galor

Brown University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Ömer Özak

Southern Methodist University - Department of Economics; IZA

Assaf Sarid

Department of Economics, University of Haifa

Date Written: January 5, 2018

Abstract

This research explores the geographical origins of the coevolution of cultural and linguistic traits in the course of human history, relating the geographical roots of long-term orientation to the structure of the future tense, the agricultural determinants of gender bias to the presence of sex-based grammatical gender, and the ecological origins of hierarchical orientation to the existence of politeness distinctions. The study advances the hypothesis and establishes empirically that: (i) variations in geographical characteristics that were conducive to higher natural return to agricultural investment contributed to the existing cross-language variations in the structure of the future tense, (ii) the agricultural determinants of gender gap in agricultural productivity fostered the existence of sex-based grammatical gender, and (iii) the ecological origins of hierarchical societies triggered the emergence of politeness distinctions.

Keywords: Comparative Development, Cultural Evolution, Language Structure, Future Tense, Politeness Distinctions, Long-Term Orientation, Grammatical Gender, Gender Bias, Hierarchy, Emergence of States

JEL Classification: D01, D03, J16, O10, O40, Z10, Z13

Suggested Citation

Galor, Oded and Özak, Ömer and Sarid, Assaf, Geographical Origins of Language Structures (January 5, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3097220 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3097220

Oded Galor

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

Providence, RI 02912
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.brown.edu/fac/Oded_Galor/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.brown.edu/fac/Oded_Galor/

Ömer Özak (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Department of Economics ( email )

Dallas, TX 75275
United States
+1-214-768-2755 (Phone)
+1-214-768-1821 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://omerozak.com

IZA

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Assaf Sarid

Department of Economics, University of Haifa ( email )

Haifa 31905
Israel

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