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June 05, 2013

Where Did Most European Langauges Come From?

There have been many studies and theories about the roots of the proto-European languages.

Most of the modern northern European languages have striking similarities in both vocabulary and structure, but...

...where did they begin?

And by whom?

Was language developed and spread by nomads, conquerors or by settled agrarians?

English, German, Spanish and many other languages share Greek and Roman roots, but where did they first form? And how?

There are reasonable explanations (and some evidence) for each possibility, but for the most recent theory, take a look at this analysis of a recent study from the New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/science/indo-european-languages-originated-in-anatolia-analysis-suggests.html?ref=science&_r=0.

Here's a bit of a teaser excerpt from the article, but if you are interested in the roots of many languages, be sure to look at the entire piece:

"The researchers started with a menu of vocabulary items that are known to be resistant to linguistic change, like pronouns, parts of the body and family relations, and compared them with the inferred ancestral word in proto-Indo-European. Words that have a clear line of descent from the same ancestral word are known as cognates. Thus “mother,” “mutter” (German), “mat’ ” (Russian), “madar” (Persian), “matka” (Polish) and “mater” (Latin) are all cognates derived from the proto-Indo-European word “mehter.” "

And, in a few recent blogs, I wrote about how words change their meanings, specifically how some words have been seen (or used) in a crude or offensive way but might be neutral to us.

If you want to swear like an ancient Roman, take a look at this link - http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/05/-em-futuo-em-how-the-romans-swore/276397/.

Be sure to send us any language usages or historical nuances that interest you, and be sure to let us know what it is about language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

Morf

Also: for the first time in several years, Morf is available this July and August (and possibly the first half of September) to visit your school or program. You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com. As you can probably guess, Morf can talk or teach about just about anything. ;-)

Posted by mmorf at June 5, 2013 10:09 AM

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