Many of the world's languages apparently derived from a prehistoric common ancestor known as Indo-European. But since no one ever wrote down a word of it, how do we know what it was like?
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For more information:
Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction (2e) by Benjamin W. Fortson
American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots by Calvert Watkins
Historical Linguistics by R.L. Trask
Language Log posts in the order they should be read:
The Linguistic Diversity of Aboriginal Europe
Several employers of mine have asked all employees to fill out a skills inventory of some sort. Almost all include language ability in some form, and provide a pick list of languages. I have no clue where these pick lists come from, but they are very odd. Some include (not that I am looking at my current employer's list, or anything like that -- oh, no!): Aramaic, Latin, Indo-European, BOTH Mandarin AND Cantonese ALONG WITH Chinese, Filipino AND Tagalog, Kiswahili AND Swahili, Gaelic, Slavic. And there are countless omissions: Czech, but no Slovak.
I confess that when I see a generic language family, or an ancient language, or multiple terms for the same language that I have studied, I have at times signed up for all of them! Honestly, is anyone going to ask me to take a phone call in Latin? Or to translate a press release into Slavic?
Still, now I will think twice about signing up as a fluent Indo-European speaker.
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