Want to weird yourself out? Listen to this video of what humans sounded like thousands of years ago.
In a time where nothing was written down and there were obviously no sound recorders, it’s difficult to imagine what our ancestors sounded like.
Somehow, though, researchers have figured it out, and they’ve recreated what they claim is the mother tongue of one of the largest group of languages spoken around the world – the Indo-European languages. And it sounds like an unnatural combination of a very enthusiastic guy having sex and a chipmunk.
Most European languages including English, French, Spanish, German and Punjabi all descended from this language – which experts have dated back to between 6,000 and 2,000 BC.
Those involved in the research put together a video that counts down numbers, starting with how the number is said today and ending with how it would have been pronounced in Proto-Indo-European. Interestingly, the higher you count, the more far off the relation is between the two languages.
Researchers at Cambridge and Oxford used statistics to ‘move backwards’ through the family tree of languages descended from Proto-Indo-European.
By analysing languages that descended from Proto-Indo-European and manipulating the shape of the soundwave, they revealed how words would have sounded in the distant past, The Daily Mail reports. Basically, they created mathematical ‘fingerprints’ for words and then used these as ‘signposts’ to recreate how words would have sounded 8,000 years ago.
Professor John Aston, from Cambridge’s Statistical Laboratory said:
Sounds have shape. As a word is uttered it vibrates air, and the shape of this soundwave can be measured and turned into a series of numbers.
Once we have these stats, and the stats of another spoken word, we can start asking how similar they are and what it would take to shift from one to another.
Very fascinating, but also very weird.