Mother in English, moderate in Dutch, matka in Czech, my in Bengali… The word “mother”, in many languages, seems to share a common root. What is it ? And what language does it come from? It is in the quest for this “mother tongue” and the advances in knowledge concerning it that the New Scientist devotes the cover of its edition dated November 26.
“Thanks to the power of DNA, geneticists are advancing new theses on Proto-Indo-European, a language that may well be older than our civilization”, reports the british weekly. The hypothesis of a proto-Indo-European language (PIE) spoken six thousand years ago, which would be the unique origin of the Indo-European languages, has been put forward since the 19th century.e century and is the subject of much speculation. The evolution of knowledge on human migrations makes it possible to develop new hypotheses.
“At the same time, linguistic studies now suggest that the roots of Indo-European languages go back even further than Proto-Indo-European, i.e. to the world as it existed just after the beginnings of agriculture in South-West Asia”, continues the New Scientist. A hypothetical language Proto-Indo-Uralic would have been spoken nine thousand years ago.
But all these advances are not without controversy. From now on, linguists and geneticists will have to work hand in hand to bring out a common and coherent history of the languages spoken by our ancestors.
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