Is this the mind of our ancient ancestors?

It’s been reported by the Washington Post that some words have essentially survived for about 15,000 years. Mark Pagel, who is an evolutionary theorist at the University of Reading in Great Britain, has pinpointed 23 of the world’s most ancient words which, he says, could have been understood by hunter-gatherers in the Caucasus at the end of the last Ice Age.

The words are called “cognates”; they are more or less the same in at least four languages. And, they are typically used regularly by an average speaker.

The words are:

thou, I, not, that, we, to give, who, this, what, man/male, ye, old, mother, to hear, hand, fire, to pull, black, to flow, bark, ashes, to spit, worm

I’m not sure who created it, but someone (maybe David Brown in the Sydney Morning Herald) wrote four sentences with those words in them. Here is the text:

You, hear me! Give this fire to that old man. Pull the black worm off the bark and give it to the mother. And no spitting in the ashes!

It’s funny (in both senses of the word: haha and peculiar).

So we decided to test the text with DeepWord. What we found was fascinating.

First, DeepWord reported that the text suggests someone who is focused on action (moving and changing) and is not much interested in other people’s point of view.

Their mood is “determined, realistic and smart.” And, their deeper motivations suggest they are being “purposeful, attentive and categorical.”

That sounds about right.

Have we just stumbled upon something special?

Is this a glimpse into the human mind at word some 15,000 years ago?

 

 Links

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/words-that-last/

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/linguists-identify-words-that-have-changed-little-in-15000-years-20130507-2j506.html

Co-creator of DeepWord. Creator of Infra Language.

Posted in Communication, Language, Living

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