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Ltryptophan's avatar

Do all languages share words that are not modern?

Asked by Ltryptophan (11280points) March 3rd, 2010

Are there any words that might point to a very ancient language from our very earliest ancestors? Cuneiform is old. Since we all come from the same place, did any words or even word sounds survive the trip? How could you tell if some words were the same for no reason, in two cultures?

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9 Answers

njnyjobs's avatar

Some online dictionaries do provide the etymology of words.

List of oldest languages

DominicX's avatar

This is an an ongoing debate in the linguistic world. Most linguists reject the idea of a universal language ancestor to all modern languages, however.

An example would be that some cite the fact that word for “mother” or “mama” begins with an “m” in completely unrelated languages. However, this is thought to be due to the fact that the “m” sound is a very easy one for infants to make and might explain it.

Another example is the word for “finger” in many languages across the globe begins with a “t” or “d”.

This is an interesting article:

morphail's avatar

Here’s a good introduction to Proto-Indo-European:

By “oldest language” people usually mean “language with the earliest attested writing.” No language is really older than any other.

Cruiser's avatar

“What?” “Huh?” “no” and ((shrugs)) are universally despised in all languages.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@DominicX aqua seems pretty old then…from the wiki

laureth's avatar

Many languages do. I recommend this book. Yes, it’s controversial, but her evidence is pretty convincing.

Ria777's avatar

@Cruiser: unless you show us a link, I won’t believe it.

Your_Majesty's avatar

This usually exist in some minority ancient tribe. As a person who live in geographically isolated islands and multi-cultural country I noticed that beside we have one national language we also have many ancient(minority) tribe language each of it different depends on its sources. i.e. National language:Bahasa/Bahasa Melayu(quite ancient). Minority languages:Bataknese,Karonese,Javanese,Papuanese,etc(all ancient,experience no changes/development from its original form,and refer to its source/tribe).

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