Scientists analyse the roots of language

Through the use of new supercomputers, language scientists have been able to analyse language dating back to 30,000 years ago, and have been able to predict which words will have the longest lives, and which may disappear soon.

Scientists at the University of Reading have discovered that ‘I’, ‘we’, ‘who’ and the numbers ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ are amongst the oldest words, not only in English, but across all Indo-European languages. What’s more, words like ‘squeeze’, ‘guts’, ‘stick’, ‘throw’ and ‘dirty’ look like they are heading for history’s dustbin – along with a host of others.

The scientists have been able to analyse the family of Indo-European languages – of which English is a modern-day example – reconstruct the rate at which words evolve and predict future changes to our vocabulary. The oldest words we use today have been in existence for at least 10,000 years.

Full article from: University of Reading

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