In a rare collaboration, linguists from New Zealand used methods deployed by virologists to study origins of epidemics, to validate a theory that traced the roots of Indo-European languages to Turkey. The theory suggests the languages originated in Turkey.
But an older theory suggesting an origin in Russia has held sway. To pin down which theory was most likely researchers used phylogenetic analyses, which works on the fact that like DNA, language is passed down generation to generation.
Although it changes, cognates describing the fundamentals of life—kinship, body parts and verbs—resist change. The researchers built a database of 207 cognate words. It contained 103 Indo-European languages, including 20 ancient tongues like Latin and Greek.
Move from news to views and get in-depth reports on issues that matter to you, every fortnight.
Subscribe now »
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation.
This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.