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Origins of Human Language

Unravelling the Origins of Human Language

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Linguists have long sought to understand the origins of human language by tracing back the history of words through the ages.  Now a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has revealed that during the Ice Age, our ancient ancestors may have had several words in common with us, some of which could still be recognized today.

Previously, linguists have investigated ancient tongues by studying shared sounds among words to identify those that are were likely derived from common ancestral words.  The difficult with this approach is that sometimes words can sound similar by coincidence.  Fortunately, a new method was found to address this problem.  Researchers discovered that subsets of words used frequently in everyday speech are more likely to be retained over long periods of time.  Using this, they were then able to predict words likely to have shared sounds, which reduces the possibility that the words were similar by chance.

Using statistical models, linguists have now discovered that certain words would have changed so slowly that they would have retained their ancestry for up to ten thousand years.  The research has important implications for understanding the origins of human languages and the way they have transformed throughout the ages. With these new findings, linguists could potentially reconstruct the ancient "mother" of all languages that was used in the very beginnings of human history.

By April Holloway

Comments

There are famillies of languages and languages within those families are related to eachother.  The idea of super-families (Nostratic etc.) is very problematical.  There's no real evolutionary explanation for the non-relation between IE and Semitic languages, nor any way a language evolutionist could account for the fact that English is much closer to Russian than Lithuanian is.

 

A better explanation for the state of human languages:

http://bearfabrique.org/History/babel.html

 

My guess would be that within 30 years, the planet is probably going to be down to 10 - 30 languages which anybody uses.

 

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