Computer scientists have apparently developed a program capable of reconstructing ancient languages using huge data computing methods and machine learning, according to BBC reports.
|Researchers developed a computer program to reconstruct ancient languages|
According to details; the software would be capable to rebuild protolanguages - the ancient tongues from which our modern-day languages developed. The new program will help ease the old slow and labor-intensive process of rebuilding old languages being used by linguists.
The model is based on the established linguistic theory that words evolve along the branches of a family tree. Linguists typically use what is known as the 'comparative method' to establish relationships between languages, identifying sounds that change with regularity over time to determine whether they share a common mother language.
The reports suggest that scientists have already used the program to recreate ancient Proto-Austronesian, which gradually developed into languages spoken in Polynesia and other places. The software developers’ team now plans to use the same program to help re-born original North American proto-languages.
The work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Researchers apply this system to 637 Austronesian languages, providing an accurate, large-scale automatic reconstruction of a set of protolanguages.
Dr Dan Klein, an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley - one of the researchers involved in the developing of program - told that the system still has limitations. For example, it can't handle morphological changes or re-duplications - how a word like 'cat' becomes 'kitty-cat'.
Dr. Klein said: "At a much deeper level, our system doesn't explain why or how certain changes happened, only that they probably did happen."
While researchers are able to reconstruct languages that date back thousands of years, there is still a question mark over whether it would ever be possible to go even further back to recreate the very first protolanguage from which all others evolved.