You are Where you Live

Acoustic adaptation is a theory in naturalism which suggests that the sounds animals make adapt to their environment: either as a result of their physical environment, or other sounds around them. You can notice that in cities, for examples, were birds will often seem to mimic the man-made sounds they hear every day. Recently though, some linguists have suggested that human languages undergo a similar process of adaptation.

Though this theory have yet to be conclusively proven, there are some intriguing ideas behind it. The main principle believed to affect the sound of a language is the frequency sound waves can travel at in a particular environment. For example, consonants don’t travel well in areas of dense vegetation such as rainforests, and therefore languages which developed in such landscapes are light on consonants and feature long vowel sounds with lots shifts in tone. Continue reading