Insights from Comparative Linguistics
Comparative linguistics is an excellent method for tracing memetic influences between cultures and cultural genealogy.
Nowadays, comparative linguists analyse the minute details of similarities and differences. They can often trace words back through many types of change such as the dropping of syllables and shifts in pronunciation. Thus, the evolutionary history of various languages can be accurately traced. Family trees based on differences in DNA. Also, the migratory histories of whole peoples can be deduced from the languages that remain today. In Africa, for example, the 1500 or more surviving languages fall into just five main language groups, largely spoken by distinct racial groups, and their distribution can reveal which groups defeated others in the past. From a few remaining words it can be deduced that the pygmies once had their own languages but were forced into adopting those of neighbouring black farmers, and that Semitic languages, the languages of the Bible and of Islam, came not from the Near East but from African.