Our ability to form a limitless number of thoughts into a spoken word is what distinguishes the human species from our less evolved cousins but, while we know that language first appeared among Homo sapiens around 30 000 to 100 000 years ago, we still don’t know all the secrets of exactly HOW language evolved, or how the thousands of languages we have today have developed.
When you hear somebody speaking Polish and another person speaking Persian, they sound like totally different languages, don’t they? But listen more closely and you’ll hear similarities, like how one of the Persian words for mother is mada, and in Polish, it’s matka.
That’s because both languages belong to a large family known as the Indo-European languages. A group that contains over 400 languages and dialects: Polish, Persian, English, French, German, Russian, Icelandic. The list goes on.
But if you trace all those languages to their roots, exactly where and when did they come from? It’s a 200-year-old question and a topic of controversy.