Going viral 9,500 years ago: 'English descended from ancient Turkey'

Cunning linguists back Indo-European chat theory


Linguiboffins have traced the origins of Indo-European languages to Turkey using the same methods developed to track bird flu, HIV and other viruses.

"If you know how viruses are related to one another you can trace back through their ancestry and find out where they originated,” said lead researcher Dr Quentin Atkinson of the University of Auckland. “We’ve used those methods and applied them to languages.”

The viral modelling traced languages such as English and German to Anatolia, what is now Turkey, where they were first used about 8,000 to 9,500 years ago. The researchers looked at basic vocabulary from 103 ancient and contemporary Indo-European languages, and found that the age and location matched their Anatolian theory.

They hypothesise that the languages spread with the expansion of farming into Europe through the Balkans, reaching western Europe about 5,000 years ago. The theory is backed up by genetic and skull-measurement data that also indicates an Anatolian contribution to the European gene pool.

The same team had put forward the idea of Anatolia before, using methods from evolutionary biology to build up the languages' family tree, but not all other linguiboffins were convinced.

Before this, linguists had theorised that Indo-European languages came from the Pontic steppe region north of the Caspian Sea and were spread into Europe and Asia by Kurgan semi-nomadic pastoralists 5,000 to 6,000 years ago.

The study was published in the journal Science. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • US won’t prosecute ‘good faith’ security researchers under CFAA
    Well, that clears things up? Maybe not.

    The US Justice Department has directed prosecutors not to charge "good-faith security researchers" with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) if their reasons for hacking are ethical — things like bug hunting, responsible vulnerability disclosure, or above-board penetration testing.

    Good-faith, according to the policy [PDF], means using a computer "solely for purposes of good-faith testing, investigation, and/or correction of a security flaw or vulnerability."

    Additionally, this activity must be "carried out in a manner designed to avoid any harm to individuals or the public, and where the information derived from the activity is used primarily to promote the security or safety of the class of devices, machines, or online services to which the accessed computer belongs, or those who use such devices, machines, or online services."

    Continue reading
  • Intel plans immersion lab to chill its power-hungry chips
    AI chips are sucking down 600W+ and the solution could be to drown them.

    Intel this week unveiled a $700 million sustainability initiative to try innovative liquid and immersion cooling technologies to the datacenter.

    The project will see Intel construct a 200,000-square-foot "mega lab" approximately 20 miles west of Portland at its Hillsboro campus, where the chipmaker will qualify, test, and demo its expansive — and power hungry — datacenter portfolio using a variety of cooling tech.

    Alongside the lab, the x86 giant unveiled an open reference design for immersion cooling systems for its chips that is being developed by Intel Taiwan. The chip giant is hoping to bring other Taiwanese manufacturers into the fold and it'll then be rolled out globally.

    Continue reading
  • US recovers a record $15m from the 3ve ad-fraud crew
    Swiss banks cough up around half of the proceeds of crime

    The US government has recovered over $15 million in proceeds from the 3ve digital advertising fraud operation that cost businesses more than $29 million for ads that were never viewed.

    "This forfeiture is the largest international cybercrime recovery in the history of the Eastern District of New York," US Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement

    The action, Peace added, "sends a powerful message to those involved in cyber fraud that there are no boundaries to prosecuting these bad actors and locating their ill-gotten assets wherever they are in the world."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022