Tower of Babel? Why Groundbreaking New Finds Have Scientists Saying the English Language Originated in Turkey
It may not be the Tower of Babel, but it's even crazier: through an innovative use of methods that were originally developed for tracking the 'Patient Zero' of viral outbreaks (we're looking at you, Gwyneth Paltrow), new findings now have scientists saying that the Indo-European tree of languages originated in Turkey, where it's had its roots for over 8,000 years.
The research team, helmed by Quentin Atkinson of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, utilized certain algorithmic methods which analyzed phonetics from over a hundred ancient and modern day languages, complimenting their linguistic research with social, historical, and geographic data. Through their research, they pinned down the eight-millenia old origin of the largest global language set ever to the region of Anatolian region in modern-day Turkey.
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The results of their find, which were published in this Friday's edition of Science, corroborate the Anatolian hypothesis, which speculated that the spread of Indo-European languages was caused by, and happened in lock-step with the spread of agriculture.
Till this point, and even perhaps moving forward given how stubborn the acceptance of scientific theory can be, the prevailing theory has been the Steppe hypothesis, which proposed that, because early Indo-European languages have words for wheels and wagons, the Indo-European English language probably originated in Russia approximately 6,000 years ago. They come to that conclusion because this is where most believe that the use of chariots, which were an important agricultural-and-technological advance, was pioneered.
"Archeologists and linguists have had different favorite theories on the language origins," noticed linguist Michael Dunn, a key player at the Max Plank Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, Netherlands and a co-author of the aforementioned paper, "But now, new research like ours provides linguistic support for the Anatolian hypothesis."
Their new, groundbreaking work uses geographical data to support the Anatolian hypothesis, an addition that had not been used until this point. It changes the way we look at the roots of languages spoken on all seven continents by approximately three-billion people.
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