Wed May 8 15:48:02 UTC 2013

Several articles on this research have now appeared.  For convenience, I'll list the most interesting ones here, though some of them have already been linked.

The original research and supporting information is at

The Washington Post article, which started the discussion, is at
(Note that long links may break across lines.)  This is perhaps the most interesting discussion, with a linked chart and spoken pronunciations, although the writer made several rookie mistakes.

ScienceNow has probably the most knowledgeable account, reprinted on Huffington Post at also has a good account, at

NPR also seems to get it, at

The LA Times writer apparently knows something about the subject, working in a bit on the cognates of "fart":,0,1515430.story

Several of these have extensive comments, although the commenters tend not to be very knowledgeable.

My own take, for what it's worth, is that the researchers have made a strong case that a handful of common words have cognates in multiple language families and probably predate the prototypes of the language families.  However, great caution should be used in assessing this evidence's relevance to language superfamilies.

The less knowledgeable popular commentary has in several cases constructed speeches using these words and speculated that an ancient speaker could understand at least part of them.  Heck, I have enough trouble understanding Chaucer, and that's English.  I don't think someone speaking French or German - arguably the two modern languages most closely related to English - would be able to follow any of those speeches.  It's ridiculous to think that someone from 15,000 years ago could understand them.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Amy West
Sent: Wednesday, May 08, 2013 9:12 AM
Subject: Re: proto-proto-proto...

On 5/8/13 12:00 AM, Automatic digest processor wrote:
> Date:    Tue, 7 May 2013 01:53:16 -0400
> From:    Victor Steinbok<aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: proto-proto-proto...
> Eugene Volokh links to a WaPo article on proto-Eurasiatic language. For
> those interested, the piece is here
I was hoping to see some discussion of this here.
Where can I find Eugene Volokh's comments? I'd like to read his response.

---Amy West

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