The study reveals that languages containing ejective consonants are spoken mainly in regions of high elevation. Ejectives are sounds produced with an intensive burst of air, and are not found in the English language.
The findings show that 87 percent of the languages with ejectives included in the study are located within 500 km of a region of high elevation on all continents. The findings also indicate that as elevation increases, so does the likelihood of languages with ejectives.
“This is really strong evidence that geography does influence phonology—the sound system of languages,” says Caleb Everett, associate professor of anthropology, in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami and author of the study. The study is titled “Evidence for Direct Geographic Influences on Linguistic Sounds: The case of ejectives.”
An area of high elevation is defined as exceeding 1500m above sea level. Most of the inhabitable high altitude areas of the world are found in six regions, including the North American Cordillera; the Andes and the Andean altiplano; the southern African plateau; the plateau of the east African rift and the Ethiopian highlands; the Caucasus range and Javakheti plateau; and the Tibetan plateau and surrounding plateaus.
Read more at: Phys.org