Ekwo and Kwel (Horse and Wheel)

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SO… Neanderthal weren’t as simple as once thought. They had art, buried their dead and they had speech. The new people arriving had their own speech that they brought with them. These people (Homo Sapiens) spread across Europe, and eventually inhabited all of Europe. As they travelled they took their speech with them, but as time and distance separated them their speech became different. Soon their speech became so different that they could not communicate with people in other areas.

The original language of the people arriving in Europe is called Proto-Indo-European. No one speaks it today, but Linguists are able to guess at what this language sounded like by working backwards from languages today. Predictable vowel and consonant changes allow them to be able to reverse those changes and create this first language. Proto-Indo-European was the mother language and almost all of the languages in Europe today are her offspring.

Proto-Indo-Europeans were not a specific group of people. Archeologist will never be able to find a village of people called Proto-Indo-Europeans. The name signifies a speech group. The languages that fall into this group are Anatolian, which is now extinct and included Luvian and Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Armenian, Baltic-Slavic, Albanian and  Tocharian, also extinct.

The most interesting of this group is the Anatolian and Tocharian. Anatolian, because it became extinct early, and the Tocharian because it is found in an area never expected. Writings of both of these languages were only recently discovered. The Anatolian branched off the earliest and became extinct the earliest. There language was frozen in time and resembles the Indo-European language the most.

The Tocharians were only recently discovered when mummies found in the deserts of China revealed tall European looking people with red hair and tartan like clothing. Their writing was found in Buddhist temple writings. Some believe the Tocharians were a merchant people who had traveled the silk road.Proto-Indo-European was spoken around 4,500 BC in the Pontic-Caspian steppe – the steppeland stretching from Moldova and western Ukraine across the Southern Federal District and the Volga Federal District of Russia to western Kazakhstan. This image shows a 4,000 BC site of the Trypillian culture near modern-day Nebelivka, Kirovograd region, Ukraine. Image credit: Nataliia Burdo / Mykhailo Videiko.

4000 BC site of Trypillian Culture in the Ukraine courtesy of Sci-news.com

There is debate about where the Proto-Indo-European language began, but many words of plants and animals help narrow it down. The popular belief is that they began on the Pontic-Caspian steppes of what is now Turkey Moldova and Ukraine 6500 years ago. These people were the first to tame the horse and they invented the wheel and cart.

You can go to Archaeology Magazine to read more and even hear a parable spoken in Proto- Indo-European. To translate your own words into Proto-Indo-European you can go to the Proto-Indo-European translator, and the  University of Texas at Austin has the dictionary at Linguistic Research Center.

It is interesting to see how our language began and how it evolved over 6000 years. You will be surprised at how many of these words you will recognize and how many of these 6000 year old words we still use today.

One thought on “Ekwo and Kwel (Horse and Wheel)

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