The Origin and Evolution of Languages

September 4, 2007

Humanity has explored the vastness of the universe, the deep oceans, the microstructure of atoms, human consciousness, and so on. While the efforts made so far in these explorations are tremendous, even more efforts may be necessary to continue the explorations to fully understand nature.

Language has been the means of communication of humanity to better understand itself and nature. The history of origin and evolution of languages is another vast area that has not been fully explored. Attempts have been made in the past to understand the origin of languages. However, it doesn’t seem that any conclusion has been reached about it.

Origins Research Institute, Inc., a new startup company, has launched further exploration of the origin of languages and their evolutions. It is studying words and concepts in the various languages of the world to point to the earliest spoken language by researching for its pieces in these various languages of the world. It is also revisiting the old debate about the origin of languages by studying certain characteristics of possibly one of the earliest languages. While suggesting that there are clues that can potentially point to the origin of languages, it indicates that it plans to make public these clues at an unspecified future date.

So far, nearly 40 words in Afan Oromo, the language of the Oromo people of Ethiopia, have been identified to be conceptually and etymologically related to words in the English language.

For example, the English word eye may have evolved from the Oromo word ija. This is based on a study of the evolution of the word eye as follows: eie, ie in Medieval English, ege in Old English with its eage variation, and auge in Greek. Another example is the word bright, which may have evolved from the Oromo word bari (dawn) or barihe (dawned) as follows: breht, beorht (Medieval English; Old English), bairht(s) in Gothic, beraht (Old Scotish), beraht in OHG.

This new observation becomes more important when we look back at the human DNA study project done by the National Geographic and published in its March 2006 issue of its magazine. According to the report, “modern humans” lived near Omo Kibish in Ethiopia nearly 200,000 years ago and started to migrate out to different parts of the world nearly 70,000 years ago.

While convincing conclusions about the word relationships and the languages of the world remain to be seen, the possibility appears poised to bring the global human community one more step closer.

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