DCDC2 READ1 regulatory element: how temporal processing differences may shape language


Classic linguistic theory ascribes language change and diversity to population migrations, conquests, and geographical isolation, with the assumption that human populations have equivalent language processing abilities.We hypothesize that spectral and temporal characteristicsmake some consonantmanners vulnerable to differences in temporal precision associated with specific population allele frequencies. To test this hypothesis, we modelled association between RU1-1 alleles of DCDC2 and manner of articulation in 51 populations spanning five continents, and adjusting for geographical proximity, and genetic and linguistic relatedness. RU1-1 alleles, acting through increased expression of DCDC2, appear to increase auditory processing precision that enhances stop-consonant discrimination, favouring retention in some populations and loss by others. These findings enhance classical linguistic theories by adding a genetic dimension, which until recently, has not been considered to be a significant catalyst for language change.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B