LLAS News Blog

News articles of interest to higher education LLAS subject fields.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family

There are two competing hypotheses for the origin of the Indo-European language family. The conventional view places the homeland in the Pontic steppes about 6000 years ago. An alternative hypothesis claims that the languages spread from Anatolia with the expansion of farming 8000 to 9500 years ago. We used Bayesian phylogeographic approaches, together with basic vocabulary data from 103 ancient and contemporary Indo-European languages, to explicitly model the expansion of the family and test these hypotheses. We found decisive support for an Anatolian origin over a steppe origin. Both the inferred timing and root location of the Indo-European language trees fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8000 to 9500 years ago. These results highlight the critical role that phylogeographic inference can play in resolving debates about human prehistory.
Bouckaert, Remco, Philippe Lemey, Michael Dunn, Simon J. Greenhill, Alexander V. Alekseyenko, Alexei J. Drummond, Russell D. Gray, Marc A. Suchard, and Quentin D. Atkinson. ‘Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language Family’. Science 337, no. 6097 (August 24, 2012): 957–960. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/337/6097/957.full

Thursday, 23 August 2012

English standards at universities being set below recommended levels

Nearly two in three UK universities are setting English language requirements below the recommended level for undergraduate students from outside the European Union, according to a Times Higher Education survey.
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which is one of the most commonly used tests and is partly owned by the British Council, recommends that a score of at least 6.5 is needed for any degree course.

Full article at:

Times Higher Education

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Entries in A-level French and German down

French down 5.2%. German 7.6%

The Guardian