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How is "A language area uses fewer phonemes the farther...from Africa to reach it. ” structured? Please read the following sentences below and answer the questions. Dr. Atkinson, an expert at applying mathematical methods to linguistics, has found a simple but striking pattern in some 500 languages spoken throughout the world: "A language area uses fewer phonemes the farther that early humans had to travel from Africa to reach it". Some of the click-using languages of Africa have more than 100 phonemes, whereas Hawaiian, toward the far end of the human migration route out of Africa, has only 13. English has about 45 phonemes. (1)How is "A language area uses fewer phonemes the farther that early humans had to travel from Africa to reach it." grammatically structured? (2) I think I understand the part "the farther" calls for the pattern "the fewer phonemes." But the original says just "fewer phonemes" instead, without the article "the."Why is that? (3) the farther "that" early humans... What does "that" mean here in the sentence?
Feb 12, 2017 4:23 PM
Answers · 3
I will attempt to answer this! "fewer phonemes" in this context means 'not as many' so you wouldn't say "THE not as many' because it would sound odd and be grammatically incorrect. The use of "that" before "farther" is just another way of expressing the sentence. You could omit "that" and the sentence would be grammatically correct and (in my opinion) would sound better, but it would sound a little more formal and academic. The overall meaning of the sentence is: The further you travel from Africa (where language originated) the less individual phonetic language units (or sounds) you will find in a country's language. But my guess is you that already know this and are just asking about the grammatical structure of the sentence. I hope this helps :-)
February 12, 2017
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