Propagation Map of the Indo-Germanic languages. Courtesy of R. Bouckaert, P. Lemey, M. Dunn., SJ Greenhill, AV Alekseyenko, AJ Drummond, RD Gray, MA Suchard, and QD Atkinson
Read aloud Where does our language come from? Over 400 languages ​​belong to the Indo-European language group, at the same time there are countless dialects and dialects; they are spoken by three billion people worldwide. So far, there have been two equal theories about the origin of this language family. A new study by an international research team now seems to be leaning towards a thesis: The origins of the Indo-Germanic languages ​​lay in Turkey today. There are two major scenarios: either Bronze Age equestrians brought their language from the Eurasian steppes to Europe, or Neolithic peasants from Anatolia in what is today Turkey. To find out which theory is more likely, the researchers used a biology method: to determine the origin of a virus, the DNA of the virus is usually compared with each other to create a family tree and locate the oldest known ancestor of today's virus. The scientists adopted this method to find out from where the Indo-Germanic language family spread.

Instead of DNA, the researchers looked at individual related words in different languages, so-called cognates. An example: The German word? Five? and the English? five? are cognates, as well as the Swedish? fem? and Danish? vijf ?. They all come from the Germanic term? Fimf? from. Here you can see a relationship relatively quickly. But it's not always that easy to look at the first five of us in other languages: cuig (Irish), cinque (Italian) or piec (Polish).

A computer model of the researchers now calculated how individual languages ​​are related to each other and in what geographical area could originate. Then the scientists compared how often the Eurasian steppes or Anatolia were named as the place of origin. The clear winner was today's Turkey. From there, the ancient Indo-Germanic has spread about 8, 500 to 9, 500 years ago.
But there are also scientists who doubt this result. The archaeologist David Anthony, for example, thinks that just considering the vocabulary of today is not enough. Atikinson defends the theory of his team: "Peeking back into human history is not easy. It's like holding a faint candle over a dark abyss, and you have to use every snippet of information you find.?

Remco Bouckaert (University of Auckland) et al .: Science, doi: 10.1126 / science.1219669 © Sabine Kurz advertisement


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