BONUS: 23,000 Year Old Footprints Help Solve a Vexing Linguistic Riddle

Languages throughout the American subcontinents are finally starting to make sense.

JOHN MCWHORTER: You may have noticed that footprints of human beings have been found in New Mexico that are 23,000 years old. Now that may seem like just some isolated factoid, but that's actually huge because the traditional idea has been that humans didn't get to roughly there — that they didn't come past the Bering Strait and down into North America and then South America — until about 13,000 years ago.

Why do I care about this? Because there has always been something about the languages of North and South America that didn't make sense if people had only been there for about 13,000 years.

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