The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Parallel trajectories of genetic and linguistic admixture in Cape Verde


1Department of Biology, Stanford University, 2UMR 7206 Ecoanthropology and Ethnobiology, CNRS/MNHN, Paris, 3Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, 4Departments of Linguistics & Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan

March 26, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 2 Add to calendar

Major human migrations during the last several hundred years have generated new populations of joint European and African ancestry. The Cape Verdean archipelago, located near the western coast of Africa, provides one of the earliest examples of this admixture phenomenon, in which interbreeding among Europeans and Africans since the late 1400s led to a complex patterns of genetic, linguistic, and cultural variation. To study linguistic and genetic variation on Cape Verde, we investigated patterns of genetic and linguistic diversity among 44 unrelated Cape Verdean individuals. Genetic data consisted of genotypes at ~2.5 million genome-wide SNPs and linguistic data of spontaneous speech in Cape Verdean Creole (Kriolu) provided by each subject. We found that individual speech patterns across Cape Verdean Kriolu speakers were significantly correlated with pairwise levels of allele-sharing dissimilarities, as well as with the birthplaces of individuals and their parents. Individual levels of African genetic admixture were significantly positively correlated with the number of words of putative African origin used by each individual. These results suggest that genetic and linguistic admixture followed parallel evolutionary trajectories in the Cape Verdean archipelago, and they provide a basis for combining genetic and linguistic information to reconstruct the complex admixture processes that have shaped the cultural and biological diversity of Cape Verde. To our knowledge, this work is the first joint analysis of genetic and cultural variation within a single population of individuals sharing a common, mutually intelligible language.