One of a Neanderthal baby’s first words was probably “papa,”according to linguists. They are interested in why over6,000 languages share so many sounds for the same words,especially words that are first spoken.
Anna Gosline writes in New Scientist that Pierre Bancel andAlain Matthey de l’Etang think these basic words come fromthe earliest languages, that were spoken 50,000 years ago.They’ve found that the word “papa,” meaning father or malerelative, is present in almost 700 of the 1,000 languagesfor which they have complete data.
Bancel says, “There is only one explanation for theconsistent meaning of the word ‘papa’: a common ancestry.”But he’ll never be able to prove it because “We have noNeanderthals around to ask.”
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