A couple of years ago I posted about Edward Vajda’s discovery of the link between Ket (spoken in Siberia) and the Na-Dene languages of America. Now the Ottawa Citizen has a story on a new collection of articles by Vajda and other experts, describing one of Vajda’s insights:
Vajda, a linguistics professor at Western Washington University, told Canwest News Service in 2008 how years of research with the Ket culminated with a dramatic insight involving words associated with the canoe.
He found that the few remaining Ket speakers in Russia and the Dene, Gwich’in and other Athapaskan speakers in North America used almost identical words for canoe and such component parts as the prow and cross-piece.
“Finally, here was the beginning of a system that struck me as beyond the realm of chance,” Vajda wrote at the time. “At that moment, I think I realized how an archeologist must feel who peers inside a freshly opened Egyptian tomb and witnesses what no one has seen for thousands of years.”
It’s a good piece in general; as John Cowan, who sent it to me, says, “Big news! A language-based story in the [mass media] that gets all the facts right.”