Linguists Identify 15,000-Year-Old Words

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Linguists Identify 15,000-Year-Old Words
Researchers have come up with a list of about two dozen words that have survived, fundamentally unchanged, for 150 centuries throughout Europe and Asia.

This amazing graphic shows the linguistic evolution of 200 common words, or cognates, across languages. Graphic by Oliver Uberti, National Geographic This amazing graphic shows the linguistic evolution of 200 common words, or cognates, across Indo-European languages. Indo-European is just one of the modern language families that may have evolved from a possible ancient “proto-Eurasiatic” language.
Graphic by Oliver Uberti, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas:

  • The Washington Post article explains how research into “proto-Eurasiatic” language focused on comparing words in different language families. Language families are not the same as languages. A language family is group of languages with a common ancestry and similar words. One of the language families studied was Indo-European. Read our activity “The Languages of Europe,” and its worksheet “Languages of Europe.” Can students name some languages in the Indo-European language family?
    • The worksheet breaks down Indo-European into…

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