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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Next to three major phyla and a range of smaller language families, one finds several linguistic isolates on the African continent. The fact that many isolates are found at the periphery of expansion zones, where they are part of accretion zones, suggests that they represent the last representatives of language families which have become extinct. Climate change, social innovations, and technological innovations probably forced groups to adapt to new situations, which often involved language shift. The genetic classification of these isolates is often problematic because it is difficult to differentiate between borrowing and genetic inheritance, as no closely related languages apparently survived.

Keywords: accretion zone, climate change, expansion zone, language shift, social innovation, technological innovation

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