Brian Wallheimer reports for Phys.org on what I must consider a dubious hypothesis:
Purdue University research shows that ancient languages match up with the genetic codes found in Persian walnut (Juglans regia) forests, suggesting that the stands of trees seen today may be remnants of the first planned afforestation known in the world.
In a paper published in the journal PLoS One, Keith Woeste, a research geneticist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and a Purdue adjunct assistant professor of forestry, found that the evolution of language and spread of walnut forests overlapped over wide swaths of Asia over thousands of years. He believes as traders traversed the Silk Roads, connecting Eastern Europe and Africa with far-East Asia, they purposely planted walnut forests as a long-term agricultural investment.
The paper is “Ancient Humans Influenced the Current Spatial Genetic Structure of Common Walnut Populations in Asia,” by Paola Pollegioni, Keith E. Woeste, Francesca Chiocchini, Stefano Del Lungo, Irene Olimpieri, Virginia Tortolano, Jo Clark, Gabriel E. Hemery, Sergio Mapelli, and Maria Emilia Malvolti (not, n.b., by Woeste alone). One thing that gives me pause is that none of the authors has any connection to linguistics. But I do love walnuts, and I couldn’t resist using the word “juglandine” (which I created on the basis of Latin juglans, jugland– ‘walnut (tree)’ before discovering that it actually exists — but only, so far as I can tell, as a noun meaning “An alkaloid found in walnut leaves,” and thus I am staking my claim to it as an adjective), so here it is for your delectation. Shell and enjoy. (Thanks again go to Trevor for the link.)