愛語吧 2018-03-02 12:29 瀏覽1957次


  Were you to find yourself beside a campfire 150 centuries ago alongside a group of hunter gatherers, chances have it that they might understand some of these words. Some are pretty obvious, like “mother”, “not”, “what” or the ever so life-saving “fire”, but “worm” and “spit” definitely come as a surprise.


  There’s a consensus among linguists that a language typically can’t survive past 8,000 or 9,000 years, since it’s common for languages to mix and get replaced by other more influential languages or morph into new ones altogether. These timeless “ultra conservative” words, as they’ve been dubbed by the researchers, show that this isn’t entirely true, albeit the list is only a handful large.


  Mark Pagel of the University of Reading’s School of Biological Sciences led the research. Pagel and his team first started off with 200 words that linguists know to be the core vocabulary of all languages. What interested them were “cognates,” which are words that have the same meaning and a similar sound in different languages. For instance father (English), padre (Italian), pere (French), pater (Latin) and pitar (Sanskrit) are cognates. After the roots of these words were found, the scientists came up with the list of 23 words.

  雷丁大學生物科學學院的馬克.佩奇是這項研究的帶頭人。佩奇和他的研究團隊首先從語言學界公認的所有語言的200個核心詞匯著手?!巴丛~”引起了研究人員的興趣。同源詞就是不同語言中具有相同含義、發音也相似的詞語。例如,都表示“父親”的father(英語),padre(意大利語),pere(法語), pater(拉丁語)和pitar(梵語)就是同源詞。在追蹤了這些詞語的詞根后,科學家列出23個詞語。

  “Our results suggest a remarkable fidelity in the transmission of some words and give theoretical justification to the search for features of language that might be preserved across wide spans of time and geography,” Pagel and his team wrote.


  What’s rather interesting to note is the meaning of these words. These words survived for 15,000 years, despite technology, society, religion and so forth changed dramatically. Their value has remained undisturbed for thousands of years.


  “I was really delighted to see ‘to give’ there,” Pagel said. “Human society is characterized by a degree of cooperation and reciprocity that you simply don’t see in any other animal. Verbs tend to change fairly quickly, but that one hasn’t.”

  佩吉稱:“看到其中有‘to give(給予)’這個詞,我感到非常開心。人類社會的特征就是存在一定程度的合作和互惠,而你在其他任何動物中是看不到這點的。動詞在語言中的變化一直很快,但這個單詞卻始終不變?!?/p>

  Findings were detailed in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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