Genetics research confirms earlier linguistics research

Geneticists, Drs. David Reich of Harvard and Andres Ruiz-Linares of University College London announced today, as was reported in The New York Times (“Earliest Americans Arrived in Waves, DNA Study Finds”), that there were three waves, not one wave, of migration from Siberia which first populated the Americas. DNA has provided enough clues to confirm this, though researchers need more DNA samples to flesh out the picture. The full report was published on July 11 in Nature.

In 1987, a linguist, Joseph Greenberg, “asserted that most languages spoken in North and South America were derived from the single mother tongue…Amerind…Two later waves…brought speakers of Eskimo-Aleut and of Na-Dene, the language family spoken by the Apache and Navajo.” Dr. Greenberg’s conclusions were roundly rejected at the time, and have only now been resuscitated. Yes, there were three waves.

Genetic research is less squishy than linguistics research, but perhaps this confirmation that language research is also a way to uncover the past will earn it more respect. Unfortunately, Dr. Greenberg did not live long enough to see his theory vindicated. He died in 2001.

I take a lesson from this — one that we learn again and again. Do your job well and then call things as you see them, no matter what the fallout. Ask Charles Darwin. Do what you love doing. That’s a good life. The rest is history.

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