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Language 50,000 BC: Our ancestors like Yoda spoke

作者:王孙撒    发布时间:2019-03-01 04:13:01    

By Debora MacKenzie What form did the first human language take? According to some linguists, all known languages descend from a proto-language, perhaps dating back to the first behaviourally modern humans 50,000 years ago. But little else is known about how our ancestors spoke. Now two maverick linguists say they have clues. Merritt Ruhlen of Stanford University in California, and Murray Gell-Mann, at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico created a family tree for 2200 languages, living and dead, based on how they use similar sounds for the same meanings. Most modern languages use subject-verb-object sentences: “I see the dog”, while most dead ones, such as Latin, go subject-object-verb – “I the dog see”. On Ruhlen and Gell-Mann’s tree, subject-verb-object languages always descend from subject-object-verb languages, but never the other way around. “This tells us that the putative ancestral language had subject-object-verb word order,” says Ruhlen. However, mainstream linguists are dubious about the tree’s validity. Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1113716108 More on these topics:

 

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