Which ones will be lost in the future? – What are the oldest words in the English language? Also, which words are most likely to become extinct in the future? Linguists claim they can answer BOTH these questions!
BBC News quotes evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel as saying, “We have lists of words that linguists have produced for us that tell us if two words in related languages actually derive from a common ancestral word?We use a computer to fit a range of models that tell us how rapidly these words evolve.”
He claims that “I,” “we,” “two” and “three” are among the most ancient English words, dating back tens of thousands of years. He predicts that the words “squeeze,” “guts,” “stick,” “bad,” “push,” “turn,” “wipe,” and “stab” will eventually no longer be used.
The words that are dying out are the ones that are changing the fastest. “Dirty” is a rapidly changing word because it has so many synonyms?Pagel counts 46 so far. Verbs also tend to change quickly, as new ones are adopted and the old ones die out.
Art credit: freeimages.co.uk
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