Words, unlike human beings, who have remained the exact same for six thousand years, tend to change over time. That makes it hard for linguists to sift through history to find meaning in ancient artifacts and texts. A recent study from the University of Reading in England has uncovered what they believed to be a couple dozen words that are among the most long-lasting and fixed in terms of meaning, however. The study, “Ultraconserved words point to deep language ancestry across Eurasia”, essentially points to a list of words that, for lack of a better term, or an actual smart person to explain it to you, have been preserved in amber for thousands of years, much like dinosaur fossils, or my sex life.
The Washington Post highlights some of the words, among which are “thou”, “I,” “not,” “what,” “mother” and “man.” Also included are “bark,” “ashes” and “worm”, and, perhaps most tellingly, “to hear,” “to flow” and “to spit.” “Together, they hint at what has been important to people over the past 15 millennia,” they write. Also those last three suggest the existence of some serious pre-historic hip-hop fans.
These words, the researchers think, point to a common ancestral tongue that spread out across Europe and Asia somewhere around 15,000 years ago. It’s a nice collection of words, even if this is mostly a hypothetical. It shows that these Ice Men from the past weren’t so different from you and I, were they? Sadly, if a similar experiment is run a few thousand years from now on this era, I have a feeling it might look something more like “me”, “me”, “me”, “selfie”, “Rihanna”, “teen porn”, “me”, “dubstep”, “oxycontin”, “Bieber”, and “Bieber teen porn.” Progress.