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Tracing the evolution of language

Researchers, including an Israeli working at MIT, discovered that unusual verbs in English change in a predictable way, just like genes and living things

Tracing the evolution of the verbs of the English language for over 1,200 years - starting from the Old English of Beowulf (an epic poem from the eighth century AD considered the earliest English text) to the current English of "The Princess Diaries" the researchers found that most of the unusual verbs follow the path of Grendel (Grendel), one of the characters in the epic play Beowulf and fall into the linguistic equivalent of natural selection. The anomalous verbs, governed by confusion and ancient laws, are constantly under evolutionary pressure to meet the modern rules of the ed suffix contained on the declension of regular verbs. This is according to a study published last Thursday (11/10/07) in the journal Nature.

That the English language has undergone dramatic changes over the course of the other millennium comes as no surprise to the generations of high school students who struggled to decipher Beowulf, which dates back to the ninth century, or Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, written around 1200.
The linguists have developed elaborate "family trees" showing how the English language has developed over time but have not been able to locate the principles that drive unusual verbs to become standard verbs.

The researchers, led by Martin Novak, an evolutionary theorist at Harvard University, discovered that unusual verbs evolved in a predictable way - just like genes in living things. By analyzing databases containing millions of words, Novak and his colleagues showed that the patterns of change depend on the way in which the patterns of the irregular verbs were formed.
Unusual verbs that were rarely used quickly changed. For example holp - the past tense of the word help has become helped in the modern language. Similarly chode became chided and swole became swollen.
The researchers found that they could calculate the exact rate at which unusual words undergo a regularization process in exactly the same way that physicists calculate the half-life of radioactive materials. They found that on average, a verb used 100 times smaller develops 10 times faster.

The research partner, a doctoral student at Harvard, Jean-Baptiste Michel said that unusual verbs are like fossils that can reveal how language rules were born and died - and perhaps also cultural rules.
The researchers brought in the field of linguistics, which inspired Charles Darwin when he came up with the idea of ​​biological evolution going full circle, says Tecumseh Fitch of the University of San Andrews in Britain, who wrote a review accompanying the report. According to him, in the 18th and 19th centuries linguistics focused on the question of how language developed over time. The highlight of the researchers' achievements at that time, says Fitch, was a comprehensive family tree that showed how modern languages ​​such as English, Russian, Spanish and Hindi developed from the ancient Indo-European language, an ancient dead language spoken ten thousand years ago. The thing that influenced Darwin's thinking.
The linguists of Darwin's time were not evolutionists and they even adhered to quasi-mystical ideas explaining how language developed. Some of the influential linguists of the time believed that languages ​​are living things - another suggested that an inner spirit drives language changes.
Modern linguists focused on the biological capacity of humans to learn and use language, says Fitch, and left questions about the development of language unanswered.
It is still not possible to answer, even after the current study, why the ed rule appeared and took over at least seven other types of unusual verbs, each of which is controlled by specific rules, or in some cases like the case of go and went without any rule.
The researcher Erez Lieberman, a research student at Harvard, said that the answer probably lies in the simplicity of the ed rule, which is easier to remember than the rules accompanying the change from grow to grew (in words with one syllable, starting with two consonants, keeping the first two letters and adding ew).
New words that enter the English language, such as to google, always follow the rules for inflection changes, he said, but there are some exceptions, such as snuck, which entered the language in the late 19th or early 20th century, although it did not replace sneaked. . According to Lieberman, snuck was created due to the influence of struck - the past form of strike.
To trace the evolution of verbs, the researchers went through a huge database of verbs to determine how often unusual verbs were used, and analyzed archaic grammar to see how words were inflected in Old and Medieval English – the language of the Canterbury Tales. The researchers compiled a list of 177 irregular verbs from Old English, 145 of which remained irregular in Middle English and 98 which remain irregular to this day. They were written backwards in time and covered a period including the Norman invasion and the beginning of the spread of printing, and thus they could quantify the speed of evolution of the unusual verbs.
If the rate of regularization of unusual words continues, and the researchers believe it will, only 83 of these 177 unusual verbs will remain in the year 2500. Some unusual verbs are so integrated into everyday language that it seems unlikely they will ever be regularized, the researchers say. Although less than 3% of modern verbs are irregular, the ten most common verbs (be, have, do, go, say, can, will, see, take, get) are irregular. The researchers calculated that the half-life of the verbs be and have reaches 38 thousand years and this makes them less susceptible to mutations that characterize unusual verbs.

Which irregular verb will be next in line to receive the suffix ed? The researchers estimate that it will be "wed (get married). This seems the safe bet because in four dictionaries, including Webster's New World and Merriam-Webster, the inflections were wed/wed/wed as well as wed/wedded/wedded.

5 תגובות

  1. The neurolinguistic revolution

    Billions of words have been written by humans, and each word is a jumble of lines with a unique shape.
    Billions of words have poured from the throats of men
    And each word is a unique noise.
    About 100 years ago, curious people appeared who wanted to investigate these chatter and these noises
    in order to understand them. What they understood, they wrote with gibberish, and told with noises,

    The name of these curious people is linguists, and they did not understand that investigating gibberish with the help of other gibberish is doomed to failure,

    The clear representative of these linguists is Chomsky.
    And the clear representative of the physicists exploring the universe is Newton, whose investigation was also predestined to failure.

    Chomsky and Newton are groundbreaking pioneers who tried to explore the secrets of human language, and the secrets of physical reality and the structure of the universe.
    Asbar also tried to investigate the secret of human language,
    and the secrets of physical reality.
    And just as neurophysics came in place of Newton's physics, so neurolinguistics came in place of Chomsky's linguistics.
    Newton believed that there exists in physical reality an imaginary idea called gravity, and Chomsky believed that humans naturally create languages ​​with fixed syntax

    Newton misled physicists for 300 years, and Chomsky misled linguists for 100 years.

    Then came Asbar, with new linguistics and physics.
    Neurolinguistics is free and has no fixed syntax or certain grammar rules.
    Neurolinguistics is simple and self-explanatory, and it is based on a person's natural knowledge.

    Neurolinguistics develops in the identification of organs in the human body, which allow him to speak. (throat, mouth, tongue)

    Throat, mouth, and tongue are a natural piano of 22 notes

    A natural piano belongs to a person with natural knowledge

    The man with natural knowledge invented a language for himself based on the sounds produced by the natural piano.

    And this is how the process of creating a language is described.
    A silent person with natural knowledge touches a block of ice, and miraculously a clear natural knowledge comes to him.
    The silent person suddenly realized….. that he knew something.
    There is no way to describe this news because man has not yet invented words.
    And even though the words had not yet been invented, the person who touched the block of ice suddenly knew a wonderful new knowledge.
    And here a miracle happened, and the silent man realized that he needed to give a name to this clear knowledge.

    This silent person is a person with a natural knowledge inherent in him, and he knew that his natural piano can provide sounds, which can be used as a
    The aforementioned natural knowledge.

    This silent man chose a short name, which derives from two notes of his natural piano, the sound of K and the sound of R

    And so it happened, that the combination of the two sounds (cold) became the name of a natural knowledge, which comes to man following contact with a block of ice.

    This is where the creation of human language begins, which is the language of names of natural information.

    All the conditions of creation are found in the silent person.
    Ingenuity is inherent in the silent person, natural knowledge is inherent in the silent person, and the natural piano is part of the silent person's body.

    Every person can learn a language of natural knowledge. This language requires the person who wants to learn to make an act of touching a block of ice, like the silent person,
    This simple act brings a person amazing knowledge
    that he feels her and feels her.
    In the next step, the person learning understands that the two cold sounds of his natural piano are a chosen name of the natural knowledge that came to him, following contact with ice.

    The name of natural knowledge is chosen arbitrarily,
    And any combination of sounds can correspond to this.

    The combination of sounds (חם) was chosen to be the name of a natural knowledge, which miraculously comes to the person approaching the fire.
    The combination of the sounds Hm was also chosen arbitrarily.

    This is how human language is created, based on natural information that comes to them, following actions they do in physical reality.

    The actions are as simple as (touching, walking, jumping, tasting, smelling), etc. This is how a clear language of humans is created, which is the language of names of natural knowledge.

    This information comes to humans, following actual actions they do in physical reality.

    Touch and natural knowledge comes, smell and another natural knowledge comes, see and natural knowledge comes
    Otherwise, you taste and another natural knowledge comes, and more,
    Now it remains to choose arbitrarily, sounds from the natural piano, such as the sounds of the piano, or the sounds of the bass, or the sounds of the sweet,
    And these sounds will be the names of some of the natural messages that came to humans, following the actions they did. in physical reality.

    This is how a human language is created, which is a language of names of natural information. Every word in the human language is
    Name of natural knowledge - coming to man, following an actual act he does in physical reality.

    It is impossible to create human language with the help of the sounds emanating from the throat, because the sounds are just noise.

    If the voices are names of natural information following an action in physical reality, then the language is created immediately, and it can be used.

    All linguists in the last 100 years have used the noise of words coming from their throats to create human language and explain it.
    All these linguists have failed. And as a result of this failure, the Nesbari Law appeared saying:

    You cannot study a language through its words.
    The investigation must get right to the natural news
    who received names in words.
    Neurolinguistics began to create a human language, which is a language of names of natural information.
    The selection of names takes place with the help of the natural pianos of humans, which are able to produce many sounds such as sound A, sound B, sound C and so on.

    Humans easily invented thousands of languages, because they
    They knew - that language is invented by actions, not by words.

    The linguists of the last 100 years did not know that language is invented by actions, and they spoke, and spoke,
    And they spoke, and made a noise from their throats - which remained a noise.
    This noise failed to invent a language.

    Esbar's research revealed the secret of human language, which is the language of names of natural information - which come to man following an act he does,

    Every such act brings natural knowledge to the person, and the person who creates the language gives a name to the natural knowledge.

    Neurolinguistics is completely new, and it is completely different from Chomsky's linguistics.
    Chomsky's linguistics is based on words, which are scribbles of meaningless lines, so the failure of this linguistics is predictable.
    There is no possibility to understand doodles, with the help of other doodles, whose names are words.

    Neurolinguistics is based on actual actions
    that man does, and these actions bring man
    Miraculously, natural news.

    Artificial intelligence and natural intelligence

    A person touching a block of ice receives a very clear natural knowledge, and the person gives it an arbitrary name.
    He achieves the arbitrary name with the help of his natural piano. capable of making many sounds.

    People already know the natural knowledge that the name of consists of the sound k and the sound r
    This whole process takes place with the help of natural intelligence.

    A robot touching a block of ice has no natural intelligence, and no natural knowledge. The robot has artificial intelligence, and it can measure the temperature of the contact, but it does not have a clear natural knowledge of the contact with a block of ice.
    A person has such clear natural knowledge.

    There is a profound difference between artificial and natural intelligence. Natural intelligence belongs to a person who obtains natural knowledge as a result of an act he does. Artificial intelligence is limited, and will never reach the natural intelligence of a human.
    There is no doubt that the language of living creatures is based on their natural knowledge.
    Every living being has its own natural knowledge.
    An ant has the natural knowledge of an ant.
    An elephant has the natural knowledge of an elephant,
    A monkey has a natural monkey knowledge.
    The living creatures have noises that correspond to their natural knowledge, and they learn the noises from each other.
    The language of natural creatures awaits man.

    The language of living beings is based on their natural intelligence, and artificial intelligence will not be able to understand it.
    There are many expectations from artificial intelligence, and neural linguistics has lowered the level of expectations to a simple mechanical level that works, but does not know.

    A. Asbar

  2. Best regards to Arya Seter
    We haven't met in a long time.

    I was happy for your exhaustive explanation, but still there is a certain uniqueness to words like SCHOOL or TEACHER so the combination CH is German in origin. That's what I read in an article years ago anyway. Logic also says that a word like teacher or student is a late creation of the language so that when the English looked for a word for school students and teachers they went to the German source which apparently preceded them. So my words are in their place.
    But the article I read was a long time ago and I may be wrong, so it is good to judge and it is possible that the origin of the languages, as you say, is in the Black Sea, and if that is the case, then perhaps it is worth looking for the proof in the Black Sea, which was apparently created in a tremendous flood several thousand years ago from water that burst from the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosphorus. There is a claim that this is the story of the flood. And then, that's where the languages ​​were also created.
    But maybe that's a bit too crazy.
    All the best
    Sabdarmish Yehuda

  3. To Judah - by and large, English is a descendant of German, not of today, but the mother tongue of both was a language more similar to German and from which English split, so it's no wonder you found a similar word in English and German - there are a lot of such, and it's not a dress that penetrated from language to language, but that they have an ancestral mother common
    Contrary to what is written in the article, I read that the mother of the Indo-European languages ​​existed about six thousand years ago in the Black Sea region. Linguists are able to reconstruct it somewhat from all its descendant languages. Still hoping to find it in the scriptures somewhere.

  4. At least two insights can be summarized from the research presented here: "a verb that is used 100 times less, develops 10 times faster" and that the half-life of an unusual word is approximately 500 years, although there are unusual words (very usable) whose lifetime can also reach Thousands of percent longer than the lifetime of an unusable abnormal word.

    Fascinating article

  5. The creationists can only grind their teeth seeing that the evolutionary analysis is a tremendous tool and not only for the analysis of life but if in all. In general, any subject in a stressful environment will change in an evolutionary way. Starting with the evolution of universes, stars, and ending with the evolution of art.
    I enjoyed reading this article.
    But I disagree a little on some of the things.
    The article did not address the prevention of the ED suffix due to the change in meaning, for example the past tense of the sentence I GO will never develop into the sentence I GOED because of the sound similar to
    I GOD.
    A second thing that I disagree with is that the development of the language has stopped being merely evolutionary when bodies such as our Hebrew Language Committee determine words in a non-evolutionary manner. Sometimes they work against the general, evolutionary trend of language mixing. And here I will give an example of the word SCHOOL which entered the English language apparently from German. I am not at all sure if any committee for the English language would allow such an intrusion today.
    It's fun to wake up in the morning with a waiting article like this.
    Have a good day.
    Sabdarmish Yehuda
    post Scriptum. With your permission, I refer you to the article I wrote "Evolution of Theories" here on the knowledge site. Referral via Google. Don't forget the quotation marks.

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