I’m in serious Writing-Avoidance Mode.
May brings the first Mother’s Day and my mom’s birthday since her passing in December. Family business and concerns literally wake me up at night. My day job has been a frenzy of frustration and chaos. I can’t focus on anything requiring mental acuity for very long, so the garden and household-repair projects are all I can manage.
Writing? What’s that?
But I did come across this interesting article in the Washington Post. A new study has found that several words have a much longer history than we thought possible.
In my novel, Dreams of the Desert Wind (hardcopy or Kindle), my protagonist is an archaolinguist. As research, I read a lot about how language changes over time, but at that point, linguists thought our oldest words were about 8,000 years old. Indo-European was the proto-language that lumped most of the Western languages into a family group, and that was about as far back as we went.
The authors of this new study, however, believe that there are cognates between several language family groups, going back to an even earlier proto-Eurasiatic tongue that links together almost every language group in from Spain to Alaska.
Granted, there aren’t many words that have been “ultraconserved” in this way, and as you’d suspect, they’re pretty basic words like man, mother, fire, but there are some surprises. “Spit” is one of these old words, as are “ashes”and “bark” (like the bark of a tree). Also, the verb “to give” is an ancient word, proving that mutual benefit was important to early society.
The study’s 6-page article can be found here, for those interested.
I’ll be reading it tonight, after sanding down the front door and refilling the ink cartridges in the printer. And maybe a few other things.