Researchers at Cambridge and Oxford universities made use of the latest technology to recreate the sounds of the 8,000-year-old Indo-European language believed to be the root of more than 440 modern languages.
With the help of sophisticated algorithm, a computer simulated sounds of the long-extinct language. It sounded strange for the British, but quite understandable for Lithuanians.
Lithuanians have long known that their language is one of the oldest in the world, having changed relatively little over millennia. As evidence, they’d note that some words in Lithuanian sound similar to those in Sanskrit. Moreover, scholars of Indo-European agree that of the living languages, Lithuanian comes closest to the tongue spoken by the ancestors of most European nations.
The researchers worked under the assumption that if people speaking the same language spread over different territories, their languages got a little distorted and took various different forms over time. It should therefore be possible to analyse the sounds of modern languages and restore the basic common forms they evolved from.
The researchers have recreated it by analysing the languages that descended from Indo-European and manipulating the shape of the soundwaves to reveal how words would have sounded.
For example, the researchers trace the evolution of the numerals from one to ten. The assumed Indo-European words sound conspicuously close to the corresponding Lithuanian numerals, especially “two”, “three”, “five” and “ten” (du, trys, penki, dešimt).
One – óinos
Two – dwoh
Three – tréies
Four – kʷetwóres
Five – pénkʷe
Six – (k)swekʲs
Seven – septḿ
Eight – hokʲto
Nine – hnewhm
Ten – dekʲm(t)