Pushing the Time Barrier in the Quest for Language Roots

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Science  23 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5743, pp. 2007-2008
DOI: 10.1126/science.1119276

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The challenge of tracing the history of the world's languages faces a serious problem--words change far too rapidly to reveal deep historical links. In his Perspective, Gray discusses language analyses by Dunn et al. in which a database of structural linguistic features was created and computational methods derived from evolutionary biology were applied. The approach offers new hope for uncovering these ancient connections.