Friday, March 4, 2011
The Scots: A Genetic Journey in the Scotsman and Episode 3 on the Radio
episode 3 of Alistair Moffat's The Scots: A Genetic Journey from BBC Radio Scotland yesterday afternoon. There was some sort of glitch in the iPlayer, but it is fixed now and there are still five days left to listen. The accompanying blog entries are here. This episode focused on the distribution of "Pictish" and "Viking" DNA markers in Scotland.
I enjoyed the episode, in fact, I've listened to it twice. However, I did think Moffat's theory that the similarity in grammar between Gaelic and some North African languages was evidence that they migrated through that region then to Iberia, as suggested in the lineage recorded in the Declaration of Arbroath, was a bit dodgy. I'm no linguist, obviously, but I've read a bit about it for my World History class and each source stressed vocabulary as the key identifier in deciding how closely languages are related, not grammar. I don't disagree that some ancestors of the Scots came through Spain (I first read about it in Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland by Brian Sykes), but I just don't like his theory.
Alasdair Macdonald of Scotland's DNA discusses the episode here and its connection of the MacLeod DNA Project. He also mentioned an accompanying series of articles written by Moffat in this week's Scotsman: part one, part two, part three, part four, and part five. The articles focus on the DNA markers and occasionally provide case studies of people who have had their DNA tested, presumably for the project. They dovetail nicely with the radio program, or at least the three episodes that have already been aired.