Jelly, jelly so fine

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Proto-speak, linguistics and computational phylogenetics


"Almost half of all people in the world today speak an Indo-European language, one whose origins go back thousands of years to a single mother tongue. Languages as different as English, Russian, Hindustani, Latin, and Sanskrit can all be traced back to this ancestral language.

Over the last couple of hundred years, linguists have figured out a lot about that first Indo-European language, including many of the words it used and some of the grammatical rules that governed it. Along the way, they’ve come up with theories about who its original speakers were, where and how they lived, and how their language spread so widely."

They say in the beginning there was the word

but in which fair place 

was it first heard?

Anatolia or a West Russian berg

neither possibility would be too absurd.

Was it an ancient farmer  

or a person hunting herds 

who was the first to enunciate their verbs?

Why do we share so many words

with folks who live so far not near?

wish we had a perfect mirror

to see our past and what brought us here.


1 comment:

Emergefit said...

In his 2007 book, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language, scholar, David Anthony dropped two nuggets that I think about nearly every week of my life…

The first, is that a language, on average, loses 20% of its words, every thousand years, and brings in approximately 20% in the way of new words.

The second, is that pronunciations of vowels and consonants evolve more rapidly than we can imagine, and that makes a larger difference in the evolution of language.

Anyway, it’s probably the best book I’ve read as far as the evolution of Proto-Indo-European language, into Indo-European language goes