Biblical scholars believe that there is a lost gospel that the four writers of the existing gospels?Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?drew upon for their writings. Scholars call this book “Q.” Some linguists think there may be a lost language that modern languages have all built upon in a similar fashion. William Henry calls this the language of the birds. Some of these scholars point out that the reason for the “m” sound in the noun for “mother” in so many languages is probably because it’s one of the easiest sounds for humans to make, and is therefore a sound that all babies produce. But it turns out that complex VERBS have the same sort of strange similarities.

linguists have long assumed that in most cases, the SOUND of a word reveals nothing about its meaning, but now they are changing their minds. In, Sara Goudarzi and Robert Roy Britt quote psychologist Morten Christiansen as saying that the sound of a word “can tell us something about how it is used.” What he means is that the way a word sounds gives a strong indication of whether it is a verb (or action word) or a noun. But he says it’s a subtle difference that’s not easy to discern?it’s not as easy as just listening for a particular sound. But when people heard a long series of words in a language they didn’t understand, they could often pick out the verbs.

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Searching for evidence of a universal language is like every other search: First you get the information, then you connect the dots (both these books are part of our big summer blowout sale). Whitley has connected the dots beautifully in his extraordinary new novel The Grays, which will be available in bookstores on August 22nd. He is reading a new chapter of his book every week: click “Listen Now” on our masthead to hear it. He will send every subscriber a free signed bookplate and is signing them right now, but supplies are limited, so if you want one, don’t hesitate: subscribe today.

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