Thursday, February 28, 2013

Language evolution

A couple days ago I posted a lecture by a linguist who discussed how Tolkien's artificial languages "evolved"; he pointed out how Tolkien used the ideas of language evolution (that was his university area of expertise) in his artificial languages.

Today, archeology links to an article at LiveScience on how linguists used this to link Homer to the Hittites.
The study mostly affirms what they have been saying, that it was written around the eighth century B.C....They took the language of the Hittites, a people that existed during the time the war may have been fought, and modern Greek, and traced the changes in the words from Hittite to Homeric to modern. It is precisely how they measure the genetic history of humans, going back and seeing how and when genes alter over time.

the only problem is that the Hittites disappeared about 1100 BC, meaning that the tales had been handed down by word of mouth, and of course the bards changing the words as the language changed.

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