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Admixture, Cultural and Biological

51fULuoOGAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ In the comments below I mention offhand that though on the order of half the genetic ancestry of Latin Americans is European, many salient aspects of their culture are overwhelmingly European (e.g., language, religion, and dress etc.), despite being inflected by Amerindian influences. This is not surprising. Analogies between cultural and biological evolutionary process are useful because one can leverage similarities in terms of formal modeling, but, one can also realize that there are large differences in the dynamics. In particular, cultural evolutionary process exhibit a great deal of horizontal transmission and age cohort effects, and biases in vertical inheritance. Though biological evolution via Mendelian genetics is not a blending process on the fine grain, in the aggregate one inherits half their genetic material from each parent to produce a blended genome. Not only that, but via the law of segregation one exhibits an equal probability of inheritance of one’s parents’ paternal or maternal genetic copies (meiotic drive being an exception to this).

41eQOJU5FBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ On the population wide scale this enforced symmetry between parental contribution has consequences. Between two diverging populations with common ancestry one only needs one migrant between the two per generation to prevent drift apart. The logic is rather straightforward. Large populations require less migration because of reduced genetic drift. Small populations exhibit more drift, but one individual is a much larger proportion of the population, dampening the divergence. This is why between group inter-demic selection (“group selection”) is treated with some skepticism by many biologists; for selection to operate one needs heritable variation partitioned between the groups. That variation is unlikely to accrue between neighboring populations, and it is strange to imagine “competition at a distance” with no interaction (as between inter-continental scale population differences).

The difference with cultural group differences can be traced to the nature of parental inheritance. An individual whose parents speak different languages does not usually speak a language which is a hybrid between the two, which would be the case if a biological analogy with complex traits were appropriate. Rather, they may speak both of their parents’ languages, or even a single one. If the latter, often it is the case that the individual conforms to the dominant culture of their peer group within the population in which they were raised. In this way populations can develop very strong between group differences, which partition groups nearly perfectly due to a high between population differences in trait and marginal within population differences.

As a concrete example in a pre-state society one can imagine endemic warfare between two valleys in Papua resulting in the exchange of women due to raiding and kidnapping producing relatively little genetic distance across them. But the cultural distance could easily be maintained if the children of foreign women careful to adhere to the cultural norms of their paternal heritage, so as to minimize the perception that they are any less “real” members of the group into which they were born. Probably the most famous example of trivial non-functional between group differences that serve to signal in such a manner is the origin of the term shibboleth.

 
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  1. It seems to me that the fact that there can be large cultural variation between groups could provide the leverage for something like group selection to take place, even if the genetic differences between groups are small. For example, the utility of a gene for altruism that helps during warfare would be magnified by the fact that there could be big cultural differences between groups, so that groups with greater altruistic culture *and* more of the altruistic genes would have an extra advantage. That is, the gene-culture interaction would be multiplicative.

    I’ve read EO Wilson on multilevel selection in his recent book (Social Conquest of Earth), and his claims that it is fundamentally different than kin selection, but I’m not sure what to think. He makes some good points about the importance of nesting, but his mathematical arguments, even at a qualitative level, were not convincing to me.

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  2. Very good post and timely a propos the controversy over the Indo-European homeland. I also like how you’re subtly undermining some of the more extreme versions of genetic determinism you find floating around the HBD blogosphere.

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  3. I wouldn’t be so sure “half of the genetic ancestry of Latin Americans is Europeans”. Not in places like Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, or probably Guatemala and Honduras, even among self-described Mestizos. So far, I haven’t seen any studies. It’s a shame.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    if you are going to quote, quote the full thing. i said "on the order of half."

    So far, I haven’t seen any studies. It’s a shame.

    familiarize yourself with the the literature. it's good for you

    http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1004572
    http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1000037

  4. @BB753
    I wouldn't be so sure "half of the genetic ancestry of Latin Americans is Europeans". Not in places like Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, or probably Guatemala and Honduras, even among self-described Mestizos. So far, I haven't seen any studies. It's a shame.

    if you are going to quote, quote the full thing. i said “on the order of half.”

    So far, I haven’t seen any studies. It’s a shame.

    familiarize yourself with the the literature. it’s good for you

    http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1004572

    http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1000037

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    • Replies: @Hipster
    Razib,

    In reference to this, I am a bit skeptical of the results generally shown for Colombia for a very particular reason.

    Almost all results show that Colombia is more than half Europeans and the large remainder made up by Native American, with many people having a small amount of African heritage.

    However, there are regions of Colombia that are heavily African with many people clearly a large majority African. The Chocó department on Colombia's pacific coast, home to about half a million colombians, is overwhelmingly African, about 80% per Wikipedia's source.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choc%C3%B3_Department

    Chocó is not the only pace with many Afro-Colombians, throughout the Pacific region particularly Afro-Colombians are a huge part of society, as well in the Carribean.

    In the results I have seen for Colombia I have not once seen an individual who was predominantly of African descent, leading me to believe the samples collected for Colombia are not truly representative of the country.

    Wikipedia estimates that about 10% of Colombia's population is "black". Like in the U.S. plenty of people who have significant non-African ancestry self-identify as "black", but still I would excpect to see at least a sizable amount of the population with majority-African descent.

    You can check out some Colombian Music Videos to see that these people are not 60% European 30% Indigenous and 10% African.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMS4J6Gp6e4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjCATQ3YdrA

    , @BB753
    Thanks for the links, Razib! When I said I couldn't find many studies, I meant studies of the areas I mentioned. Of those, only Peru is covered in the first article you link to. Peruvian mestizos seem to be an even mix, though full-blooded Indians, Asians and Blacks together outnumber them in the country. I'm curious about Bolivia.
  5. @Razib Khan
    if you are going to quote, quote the full thing. i said "on the order of half."

    So far, I haven’t seen any studies. It’s a shame.

    familiarize yourself with the the literature. it's good for you

    http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1004572
    http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1000037

    Razib,

    In reference to this, I am a bit skeptical of the results generally shown for Colombia for a very particular reason.

    Almost all results show that Colombia is more than half Europeans and the large remainder made up by Native American, with many people having a small amount of African heritage.

    However, there are regions of Colombia that are heavily African with many people clearly a large majority African. The Chocó department on Colombia’s pacific coast, home to about half a million colombians, is overwhelmingly African, about 80% per Wikipedia’s source.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choc%C3%B3_Department

    Chocó is not the only pace with many Afro-Colombians, throughout the Pacific region particularly Afro-Colombians are a huge part of society, as well in the Carribean.

    In the results I have seen for Colombia I have not once seen an individual who was predominantly of African descent, leading me to believe the samples collected for Colombia are not truly representative of the country.

    Wikipedia estimates that about 10% of Colombia’s population is “black”. Like in the U.S. plenty of people who have significant non-African ancestry self-identify as “black”, but still I would excpect to see at least a sizable amount of the population with majority-African descent.

    You can check out some Colombian Music Videos to see that these people are not 60% European 30% Indigenous and 10% African.

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  6. I’ve always felt that one of the more interesting and under-researched Latin American countries is Chile. Every admixture study I’ve seen indicates a far more substantial Amerindian component than most hardcore racialists (and some Chileans themselves) would like to admit. Of course, this isn’t surprising to anyone who’s looked at representative samples of Chileans ( I recall RooshV noted during his tour through the country that many Chilean women displayed obvious Amerindian facial traits). And yet Chile bucks the trend among many Latin American countries by having a good standard of living, low violent crime rates, stable and relatively non-corrupt institutions, etc. Its scores on standardized tests such as the PISA have been gradually increasing over the last decade, and they’re already in the range of certain Eastern/Southern European countries.

    One fact to bear in mind is that Chile is probably the most mixed Latin American country located in a temperate climate zone. I’ve noticed that even the Amerindians in the region have lighter skin than most other Amerindians, which makes sense given the climate. As a result, the mestizos of the country are also a bit lighter-skinned than their counterparts elsewhere (though the mixture is still visible to the astute observer). This has historically made it a little easier for them to emphasize their European heritage — and while Chile is genetically mixed, culturally it leans strongly towards the European side.

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  7. @Razib Khan
    if you are going to quote, quote the full thing. i said "on the order of half."

    So far, I haven’t seen any studies. It’s a shame.

    familiarize yourself with the the literature. it's good for you

    http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1004572
    http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1000037

    Thanks for the links, Razib! When I said I couldn’t find many studies, I meant studies of the areas I mentioned. Of those, only Peru is covered in the first article you link to. Peruvian mestizos seem to be an even mix, though full-blooded Indians, Asians and Blacks together outnumber them in the country. I’m curious about Bolivia.

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    • Replies: @Hipster
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/37/Ethnic_Composition_of_the_Americas.PNG

    There is this map from Wikipedia showing that Bolivia is more than half Indigenous, and about a third Mestizo with a small white minority.

    I believe this data comes from self reporting, though likely it is more or less accurate. Bolivia is undoubtedly more indigenous than most of South America, Peru being the only other country with such a large indigenous population.

    Paraguay is almost all mestizo. Language is not genetics. Guarani survives there but the people are mestizo.
  8. @BB753
    Thanks for the links, Razib! When I said I couldn't find many studies, I meant studies of the areas I mentioned. Of those, only Peru is covered in the first article you link to. Peruvian mestizos seem to be an even mix, though full-blooded Indians, Asians and Blacks together outnumber them in the country. I'm curious about Bolivia.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/37/Ethnic_Composition_of_the_Americas.PNG

    There is this map from Wikipedia showing that Bolivia is more than half Indigenous, and about a third Mestizo with a small white minority.

    I believe this data comes from self reporting, though likely it is more or less accurate. Bolivia is undoubtedly more indigenous than most of South America, Peru being the only other country with such a large indigenous population.

    Paraguay is almost all mestizo. Language is not genetics. Guarani survives there but the people are mestizo.

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    • Replies: @BB753
    Thanks, Hipster! Places like Guatemala and Honduras make me wonder if there are large numbers of mestizos anywhere in the Americas with less than 40% European ancestry, say around 25%. And if not, why? Fitness advantage?
  9. I have only ever known one child who hybridised language – her father was French, mother Chinese, they communicated with each other at home in English, but both worked full time, so the child was cared for during the day by two Filipina domestic maids. The father communicated to the child in French, the mother in Cantonese, and the Filipinas would talk to each other and the child in Tagalog. At the age of 6, when the child spoke, her speech was a jumble of English, French, Cantonese and Tagalog words and phrases, all interspersed.

    In the case of my own daughter growing up in a bilingual household, she never once mixed the languages together – she would switch fluidly from one language to the other, depending on who she was speaking to, but never got the languages confused, even when she was very young. That accords with my observation of other children growing up in bilingual households, and also of French children with whom I was friendly as a kid – they always spoke to me and my parents and sibling in English, their own parents in French, and never mixed the two. Likewise some Croat kids with whom I was friendly – never mixed or confused the languages.

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    • Replies: @Seth Largo
    I have only ever known one child who hybridised language

    Most bilingual children and adults mix their languages in private or among other bilinguals. Spanglish, Chinglish, and so on . . . "code mixing" or "code switching." But these aren't really "hybrids." Bilingual speakers sometimes just go from one language to the other at clausal or phrasal locations where the two languages work more or less similarly, e.g., Spanish complementizer "que" and English "that" both embed dependent clauses, so you'll find Spanish/English bilinguals switching at matrix/dependent clause boundaries all the time.

    But this connects back to Razib's point: An individual whose parents speak different languages does not usually speak a language which is a hybrid between the two, which would be the case if a biological analogy with complex traits were appropriate. Rather, they may speak both of their parents’ languages, or even a single one.

    Most of the time, this is in fact the case. But there are examples of young populations coming of age around two completely different languages and creating a truly unique "hybrid" of the two, usually combining lexical information from one language with simplified syntactic and morphological information from the other. For example, Light Walpiri or Medney Aleut. No speaker of these creole-type languages was ever a complete bilingual in Walpiri and English or Aleut and Russian, so their speakers can't be classified as code-switchers, the way a Spanglish speaker can be.

    In some sense, this is how areal linguistic influence works, too, though at a much slower pace and less dramatic scale as seen in, e.g., Light Walpiri.

    Of course, I don't think this changes Razib's point very much re: differences between cultural and biological evolution. Even in the case of a true hybrid language emerging in one generation, the influence is not from Parents --> Child but is a far more diffuse influence coming in from two larger speech communities.
    , @Karl Zimmerman
    That's an interesting anecdote about mixed language. I wonder if the child who spoke in a jumble was on the autistic spectrum? From what I understand autistic children keep the accents of their parents rather than those of their peers - they miss the unconscious social nuance of speech. So it would be logical that in a multilingual situation autistic spectrum kids would often not understand how to code switch.
    , @Anthony
    A bit of humor relevant to the language question: http://lilywong.net/archive/arc990208.htm
  10. @Hipster
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/37/Ethnic_Composition_of_the_Americas.PNG

    There is this map from Wikipedia showing that Bolivia is more than half Indigenous, and about a third Mestizo with a small white minority.

    I believe this data comes from self reporting, though likely it is more or less accurate. Bolivia is undoubtedly more indigenous than most of South America, Peru being the only other country with such a large indigenous population.

    Paraguay is almost all mestizo. Language is not genetics. Guarani survives there but the people are mestizo.

    Thanks, Hipster! Places like Guatemala and Honduras make me wonder if there are large numbers of mestizos anywhere in the Americas with less than 40% European ancestry, say around 25%. And if not, why? Fitness advantage?

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    • Replies: @Hipster
    What do you mean? Are you asking if there exists a population of Mestizos that is 75/25 Indigenous/European?

    Many people who self-identify as Indigenous have European ancestry, so they may be in fact Mestizo but don't identify as such. Bolivia may represent this. The links Razib posted compared people's self-identified race vs. their actual continental (Africa, American, European) ancestry.
  11. @Sandgroper
    I have only ever known one child who hybridised language - her father was French, mother Chinese, they communicated with each other at home in English, but both worked full time, so the child was cared for during the day by two Filipina domestic maids. The father communicated to the child in French, the mother in Cantonese, and the Filipinas would talk to each other and the child in Tagalog. At the age of 6, when the child spoke, her speech was a jumble of English, French, Cantonese and Tagalog words and phrases, all interspersed.

    In the case of my own daughter growing up in a bilingual household, she never once mixed the languages together - she would switch fluidly from one language to the other, depending on who she was speaking to, but never got the languages confused, even when she was very young. That accords with my observation of other children growing up in bilingual households, and also of French children with whom I was friendly as a kid - they always spoke to me and my parents and sibling in English, their own parents in French, and never mixed the two. Likewise some Croat kids with whom I was friendly - never mixed or confused the languages.

    I have only ever known one child who hybridised language

    Most bilingual children and adults mix their languages in private or among other bilinguals. Spanglish, Chinglish, and so on . . . “code mixing” or “code switching.” But these aren’t really “hybrids.” Bilingual speakers sometimes just go from one language to the other at clausal or phrasal locations where the two languages work more or less similarly, e.g., Spanish complementizer “que” and English “that” both embed dependent clauses, so you’ll find Spanish/English bilinguals switching at matrix/dependent clause boundaries all the time.

    But this connects back to Razib’s point: An individual whose parents speak different languages does not usually speak a language which is a hybrid between the two, which would be the case if a biological analogy with complex traits were appropriate. Rather, they may speak both of their parents’ languages, or even a single one.

    Most of the time, this is in fact the case. But there are examples of young populations coming of age around two completely different languages and creating a truly unique “hybrid” of the two, usually combining lexical information from one language with simplified syntactic and morphological information from the other. For example, Light Walpiri or Medney Aleut. No speaker of these creole-type languages was ever a complete bilingual in Walpiri and English or Aleut and Russian, so their speakers can’t be classified as code-switchers, the way a Spanglish speaker can be.

    In some sense, this is how areal linguistic influence works, too, though at a much slower pace and less dramatic scale as seen in, e.g., Light Walpiri.

    Of course, I don’t think this changes Razib’s point very much re: differences between cultural and biological evolution. Even in the case of a true hybrid language emerging in one generation, the influence is not from Parents –> Child but is a far more diffuse influence coming in from two larger speech communities.

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    • Replies: @Sandgroper
    I know a lot of Cantonese speakers who use a lot of English loan words, particularly when discussing technical subjects. My daughter and her bilingual friends eschew that wherever possible because they regard it as laziness and lack of education. But sometimes people can't help it if they are discussing something very technical for which there are no appropriate or sufficiently accurate Cantonese expressions. I'm no linguist, but I don't see that as hybridisation; not in any genetic sense.

    Yes, when fully bilingual speakers are talking to each other, they will often switch rapidly from one language to the other and back again. When my daughter was a kid talking with a group of school friends, it seemed to me that they were like a school of fish, swimming one way then suddenly all simultaneously switching direction. But they didn't mix the two languages together, they just frequently switched from one to the other and then back again.

    Our adult Chinese friends labelled my daughter "The NICAM Kid" (Wikipedia: "Hong Kong: commonly used for dual language for programming containing both Cantonese and English/Mandarin/Japanese/Korean soundtracks") because of her ability to switch seamlessly between languages like flipping a switch, without ever mixing the two languages together - she would just flip from 'good English' to 'good Cantonese' and back again. She still does as an adult.

    I see Chinglish as just badly spoken or written English by someone whose mother tongue is Chinese. But educated Chinese friends tell me that Chinglish speakers also speak and write badly in Chinese as well as English, e.g. they will write in Chinese but with English grammar construction.
  12. Would the Ephraimites have concurred that it was trivial and non-functional?

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  13. @Sandgroper
    I have only ever known one child who hybridised language - her father was French, mother Chinese, they communicated with each other at home in English, but both worked full time, so the child was cared for during the day by two Filipina domestic maids. The father communicated to the child in French, the mother in Cantonese, and the Filipinas would talk to each other and the child in Tagalog. At the age of 6, when the child spoke, her speech was a jumble of English, French, Cantonese and Tagalog words and phrases, all interspersed.

    In the case of my own daughter growing up in a bilingual household, she never once mixed the languages together - she would switch fluidly from one language to the other, depending on who she was speaking to, but never got the languages confused, even when she was very young. That accords with my observation of other children growing up in bilingual households, and also of French children with whom I was friendly as a kid - they always spoke to me and my parents and sibling in English, their own parents in French, and never mixed the two. Likewise some Croat kids with whom I was friendly - never mixed or confused the languages.

    That’s an interesting anecdote about mixed language. I wonder if the child who spoke in a jumble was on the autistic spectrum? From what I understand autistic children keep the accents of their parents rather than those of their peers – they miss the unconscious social nuance of speech. So it would be logical that in a multilingual situation autistic spectrum kids would often not understand how to code switch.

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    • Replies: @jtgw
    "mixed language" is a technical term in linguistics and means a language where the grammar of Language A is mostly intact, but the vocabulary of Lang A has been entirely replaced by Lang B. This can happen under certain language contact situations, and is possible because the meaning content of much of our vocabulary is not dependent on grammatical structure. What Sandgroper is describing sounds more like intra-sentential code-switching.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code-switching
    , @Sandgroper
    I don't know, Karl, but she seemed to my uninformed eye to be very anxious and neurotic, compared to other 6 year old mixed-race girls I had been acquainted with. There is another factor - older father. Her father was in his late 50s when she was born. Her parents didn't play with her much compared to the amount of time I spent playing with my daughter, taking her swimming and on outings, etc. There could be any number of things that were going on with that kid. I felt very sorry for her. What you describe sounds a possible match to what I saw, with her frantically searching around trying to get the words right.
  14. @Karl Zimmerman
    That's an interesting anecdote about mixed language. I wonder if the child who spoke in a jumble was on the autistic spectrum? From what I understand autistic children keep the accents of their parents rather than those of their peers - they miss the unconscious social nuance of speech. So it would be logical that in a multilingual situation autistic spectrum kids would often not understand how to code switch.

    “mixed language” is a technical term in linguistics and means a language where the grammar of Language A is mostly intact, but the vocabulary of Lang A has been entirely replaced by Lang B. This can happen under certain language contact situations, and is possible because the meaning content of much of our vocabulary is not dependent on grammatical structure. What Sandgroper is describing sounds more like intra-sentential code-switching.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code-switching

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  15. @BB753
    Thanks, Hipster! Places like Guatemala and Honduras make me wonder if there are large numbers of mestizos anywhere in the Americas with less than 40% European ancestry, say around 25%. And if not, why? Fitness advantage?

    What do you mean? Are you asking if there exists a population of Mestizos that is 75/25 Indigenous/European?

    Many people who self-identify as Indigenous have European ancestry, so they may be in fact Mestizo but don’t identify as such. Bolivia may represent this. The links Razib posted compared people’s self-identified race vs. their actual continental (Africa, American, European) ancestry.

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    • Replies: @BB753
    Yes, I'm looking for groups of mestizos who identify as such and are less than 30% European.
    As you mentioned, people (and studies, due to their slant) underestimate both African and quite possibly Amerindian ancestry. Distribution may differ by region though, on the whole I wouldn't be surprised if Latin America turned out to be closer to 50% Amerindian/ 25% African/ 25% European/Middle Eastern. There are loads of East Asians as well you'd have to factor in but less than 1% overall.
  16. @Hipster
    What do you mean? Are you asking if there exists a population of Mestizos that is 75/25 Indigenous/European?

    Many people who self-identify as Indigenous have European ancestry, so they may be in fact Mestizo but don't identify as such. Bolivia may represent this. The links Razib posted compared people's self-identified race vs. their actual continental (Africa, American, European) ancestry.

    Yes, I’m looking for groups of mestizos who identify as such and are less than 30% European.
    As you mentioned, people (and studies, due to their slant) underestimate both African and quite possibly Amerindian ancestry. Distribution may differ by region though, on the whole I wouldn’t be surprised if Latin America turned out to be closer to 50% Amerindian/ 25% African/ 25% European/Middle Eastern. There are loads of East Asians as well you’d have to factor in but less than 1% overall.

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    • Replies: @Hipster
    Read the studies Razib posted it seems that you haven't and are just guessing at something that you needn't guess at.

    One study showed for instance, that people with more than 50% Indigenous ancestry vastly OVERestimated their Indigenous ancestry in most of Latin America, and that people with more than 50% European ancestry also overestimated their European ancestry.
    , @Emilia
    I find it hard to believe that Latin Americans as a whole would have as much African as European ancestry. Maybe in the Dominican Republic, but other than that, extremely unlikely (I'm going by the premise that Latin America means countries whose inhabitants speak Spanish or Portuguese, even though Latin America is sometimes lumped in with the English-speaking Caribbean). I'm willing to concede that perhaps the proportion of European ancestry in Latin America has been overestimated and that of Amerindian ancestry underestimated, but that Africans have contributed an equal proportion as Europeans to the Latin American gene pool? Very remote.
  17. @BB753
    Yes, I'm looking for groups of mestizos who identify as such and are less than 30% European.
    As you mentioned, people (and studies, due to their slant) underestimate both African and quite possibly Amerindian ancestry. Distribution may differ by region though, on the whole I wouldn't be surprised if Latin America turned out to be closer to 50% Amerindian/ 25% African/ 25% European/Middle Eastern. There are loads of East Asians as well you'd have to factor in but less than 1% overall.

    Read the studies Razib posted it seems that you haven’t and are just guessing at something that you needn’t guess at.

    One study showed for instance, that people with more than 50% Indigenous ancestry vastly OVERestimated their Indigenous ancestry in most of Latin America, and that people with more than 50% European ancestry also overestimated their European ancestry.

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    • Replies: @BB753
    I have to guess because of the countries I'd like to look into, only Peru was included. Extrapolating from Mexico or Colombia might be useful although the situation could be really different in terms of real ancestry.
  18. @Sandgroper
    I have only ever known one child who hybridised language - her father was French, mother Chinese, they communicated with each other at home in English, but both worked full time, so the child was cared for during the day by two Filipina domestic maids. The father communicated to the child in French, the mother in Cantonese, and the Filipinas would talk to each other and the child in Tagalog. At the age of 6, when the child spoke, her speech was a jumble of English, French, Cantonese and Tagalog words and phrases, all interspersed.

    In the case of my own daughter growing up in a bilingual household, she never once mixed the languages together - she would switch fluidly from one language to the other, depending on who she was speaking to, but never got the languages confused, even when she was very young. That accords with my observation of other children growing up in bilingual households, and also of French children with whom I was friendly as a kid - they always spoke to me and my parents and sibling in English, their own parents in French, and never mixed the two. Likewise some Croat kids with whom I was friendly - never mixed or confused the languages.

    A bit of humor relevant to the language question: http://lilywong.net/archive/arc990208.htm

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    • Replies: @Sandgroper
    Thanks, I nearly missed that. Classic Hong Kong - I miss Lily Wong a lot.
  19. I was in Colombia over the holidays. While I didn’t ask people whether they identified as European or Mestizo or Indio, I did notice that there were a lot of people with varying degrees of admixture between American and European. There’s not much racial segregation per se, but the poorer areas tend to be people who look to be at least half American ancestry, and the wealthier areas tend to look at least half European, generally much more.

    My experience was different than Hipster’s – in Bogota, Medellin, and small towns in between, there are almost no people with visible African ancestry, except a few very African people in Bogota. In Cartagena and Barranquilla, there were some, but not overwhelming numbers. Choco may be mostly African, but it’s only 1% of Colombia’s population.

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  20. @Hipster
    Read the studies Razib posted it seems that you haven't and are just guessing at something that you needn't guess at.

    One study showed for instance, that people with more than 50% Indigenous ancestry vastly OVERestimated their Indigenous ancestry in most of Latin America, and that people with more than 50% European ancestry also overestimated their European ancestry.

    I have to guess because of the countries I’d like to look into, only Peru was included. Extrapolating from Mexico or Colombia might be useful although the situation could be really different in terms of real ancestry.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    guatemala is in the sample set for one of the papers (one of the countries you listed above). you basically can't even be bothered to read papers when people go and find stuff you are too lazy to look for. stop commenting here and spend some time on google scholar.
    , @Hipster
    Well the statistics I have seen estimated 10% total black/mulato population for Colombia.

    If you ever go back and check out the Pacific region, you will see what I'm talking about.

    Although I'm surprised you didn't see a good amount of black people in Cartagena, did you get out of the ritzy places and the old city much? The "real" cartagena is pretty black, like just going to some typical mall or something...
  21. @Karl Zimmerman
    That's an interesting anecdote about mixed language. I wonder if the child who spoke in a jumble was on the autistic spectrum? From what I understand autistic children keep the accents of their parents rather than those of their peers - they miss the unconscious social nuance of speech. So it would be logical that in a multilingual situation autistic spectrum kids would often not understand how to code switch.

    I don’t know, Karl, but she seemed to my uninformed eye to be very anxious and neurotic, compared to other 6 year old mixed-race girls I had been acquainted with. There is another factor – older father. Her father was in his late 50s when she was born. Her parents didn’t play with her much compared to the amount of time I spent playing with my daughter, taking her swimming and on outings, etc. There could be any number of things that were going on with that kid. I felt very sorry for her. What you describe sounds a possible match to what I saw, with her frantically searching around trying to get the words right.

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  22. @Seth Largo
    I have only ever known one child who hybridised language

    Most bilingual children and adults mix their languages in private or among other bilinguals. Spanglish, Chinglish, and so on . . . "code mixing" or "code switching." But these aren't really "hybrids." Bilingual speakers sometimes just go from one language to the other at clausal or phrasal locations where the two languages work more or less similarly, e.g., Spanish complementizer "que" and English "that" both embed dependent clauses, so you'll find Spanish/English bilinguals switching at matrix/dependent clause boundaries all the time.

    But this connects back to Razib's point: An individual whose parents speak different languages does not usually speak a language which is a hybrid between the two, which would be the case if a biological analogy with complex traits were appropriate. Rather, they may speak both of their parents’ languages, or even a single one.

    Most of the time, this is in fact the case. But there are examples of young populations coming of age around two completely different languages and creating a truly unique "hybrid" of the two, usually combining lexical information from one language with simplified syntactic and morphological information from the other. For example, Light Walpiri or Medney Aleut. No speaker of these creole-type languages was ever a complete bilingual in Walpiri and English or Aleut and Russian, so their speakers can't be classified as code-switchers, the way a Spanglish speaker can be.

    In some sense, this is how areal linguistic influence works, too, though at a much slower pace and less dramatic scale as seen in, e.g., Light Walpiri.

    Of course, I don't think this changes Razib's point very much re: differences between cultural and biological evolution. Even in the case of a true hybrid language emerging in one generation, the influence is not from Parents --> Child but is a far more diffuse influence coming in from two larger speech communities.

    I know a lot of Cantonese speakers who use a lot of English loan words, particularly when discussing technical subjects. My daughter and her bilingual friends eschew that wherever possible because they regard it as laziness and lack of education. But sometimes people can’t help it if they are discussing something very technical for which there are no appropriate or sufficiently accurate Cantonese expressions. I’m no linguist, but I don’t see that as hybridisation; not in any genetic sense.

    Yes, when fully bilingual speakers are talking to each other, they will often switch rapidly from one language to the other and back again. When my daughter was a kid talking with a group of school friends, it seemed to me that they were like a school of fish, swimming one way then suddenly all simultaneously switching direction. But they didn’t mix the two languages together, they just frequently switched from one to the other and then back again.

    Our adult Chinese friends labelled my daughter “The NICAM Kid” (Wikipedia: “Hong Kong: commonly used for dual language for programming containing both Cantonese and English/Mandarin/Japanese/Korean soundtracks”) because of her ability to switch seamlessly between languages like flipping a switch, without ever mixing the two languages together – she would just flip from ‘good English’ to ‘good Cantonese’ and back again. She still does as an adult.

    I see Chinglish as just badly spoken or written English by someone whose mother tongue is Chinese. But educated Chinese friends tell me that Chinglish speakers also speak and write badly in Chinese as well as English, e.g. they will write in Chinese but with English grammar construction.

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    • Replies: @Seth Largo
    Yep, your daughter is a perfect example of a code switcher (or code mixer, which is more or less the same thing. Fully fluent in two languages, shifting back and forth where the syntax of each language allows a shift (which, I imagine, would be more restricted than English/Spanish). And right, neither code switching nor borrowing technical terms here or there is true hybridization.

    You're also right that Chinglish more often refers to badly spoken English; Spanglish, though, is generally referenced---by linguists, anyway---as a true example of fully bilingual code switching.

    Here's the paper on Light Walpiri,which appears to be a case of true hybridization, with all of its speakers being under the age of 30.

  23. Sorry, yes – I was unfamiliar with the term, but “code switching” is what it is that I have observed among groups of bilingual kids.

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  24. @BB753
    I have to guess because of the countries I'd like to look into, only Peru was included. Extrapolating from Mexico or Colombia might be useful although the situation could be really different in terms of real ancestry.

    guatemala is in the sample set for one of the papers (one of the countries you listed above). you basically can’t even be bothered to read papers when people go and find stuff you are too lazy to look for. stop commenting here and spend some time on google scholar.

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  25. @BB753
    I have to guess because of the countries I'd like to look into, only Peru was included. Extrapolating from Mexico or Colombia might be useful although the situation could be really different in terms of real ancestry.

    Well the statistics I have seen estimated 10% total black/mulato population for Colombia.

    If you ever go back and check out the Pacific region, you will see what I’m talking about.

    Although I’m surprised you didn’t see a good amount of black people in Cartagena, did you get out of the ritzy places and the old city much? The “real” cartagena is pretty black, like just going to some typical mall or something…

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    • Replies: @Anthony
    Hipster - I didn't get out of the tourist areas of Cartagena much, but I would guess that there were more mixed "black" people than among estadounidiense blacks, and there were probably people I would have guessed as mestizo who had some black ancestry.

    I also wonder if more people are claiming (or acknowledging) African ancestry now that the Colombian government has started to try to compensate for the poor conditions of Afro-Colombians.
  26. @BB753
    Yes, I'm looking for groups of mestizos who identify as such and are less than 30% European.
    As you mentioned, people (and studies, due to their slant) underestimate both African and quite possibly Amerindian ancestry. Distribution may differ by region though, on the whole I wouldn't be surprised if Latin America turned out to be closer to 50% Amerindian/ 25% African/ 25% European/Middle Eastern. There are loads of East Asians as well you'd have to factor in but less than 1% overall.

    I find it hard to believe that Latin Americans as a whole would have as much African as European ancestry. Maybe in the Dominican Republic, but other than that, extremely unlikely (I’m going by the premise that Latin America means countries whose inhabitants speak Spanish or Portuguese, even though Latin America is sometimes lumped in with the English-speaking Caribbean). I’m willing to concede that perhaps the proportion of European ancestry in Latin America has been overestimated and that of Amerindian ancestry underestimated, but that Africans have contributed an equal proportion as Europeans to the Latin American gene pool? Very remote.

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  27. @Sandgroper
    I know a lot of Cantonese speakers who use a lot of English loan words, particularly when discussing technical subjects. My daughter and her bilingual friends eschew that wherever possible because they regard it as laziness and lack of education. But sometimes people can't help it if they are discussing something very technical for which there are no appropriate or sufficiently accurate Cantonese expressions. I'm no linguist, but I don't see that as hybridisation; not in any genetic sense.

    Yes, when fully bilingual speakers are talking to each other, they will often switch rapidly from one language to the other and back again. When my daughter was a kid talking with a group of school friends, it seemed to me that they were like a school of fish, swimming one way then suddenly all simultaneously switching direction. But they didn't mix the two languages together, they just frequently switched from one to the other and then back again.

    Our adult Chinese friends labelled my daughter "The NICAM Kid" (Wikipedia: "Hong Kong: commonly used for dual language for programming containing both Cantonese and English/Mandarin/Japanese/Korean soundtracks") because of her ability to switch seamlessly between languages like flipping a switch, without ever mixing the two languages together - she would just flip from 'good English' to 'good Cantonese' and back again. She still does as an adult.

    I see Chinglish as just badly spoken or written English by someone whose mother tongue is Chinese. But educated Chinese friends tell me that Chinglish speakers also speak and write badly in Chinese as well as English, e.g. they will write in Chinese but with English grammar construction.

    Yep, your daughter is a perfect example of a code switcher (or code mixer, which is more or less the same thing. Fully fluent in two languages, shifting back and forth where the syntax of each language allows a shift (which, I imagine, would be more restricted than English/Spanish). And right, neither code switching nor borrowing technical terms here or there is true hybridization.

    You’re also right that Chinglish more often refers to badly spoken English; Spanglish, though, is generally referenced—by linguists, anyway—as a true example of fully bilingual code switching.

    Here’s the paper on Light Walpiri,which appears to be a case of true hybridization, with all of its speakers being under the age of 30.

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  28. @Hipster
    Well the statistics I have seen estimated 10% total black/mulato population for Colombia.

    If you ever go back and check out the Pacific region, you will see what I'm talking about.

    Although I'm surprised you didn't see a good amount of black people in Cartagena, did you get out of the ritzy places and the old city much? The "real" cartagena is pretty black, like just going to some typical mall or something...

    Hipster – I didn’t get out of the tourist areas of Cartagena much, but I would guess that there were more mixed “black” people than among estadounidiense blacks, and there were probably people I would have guessed as mestizo who had some black ancestry.

    I also wonder if more people are claiming (or acknowledging) African ancestry now that the Colombian government has started to try to compensate for the poor conditions of Afro-Colombians.

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  29. @Anthony
    A bit of humor relevant to the language question: http://lilywong.net/archive/arc990208.htm

    Thanks, I nearly missed that. Classic Hong Kong – I miss Lily Wong a lot.

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