I and YOU did not change for 15, 000 Years in English (Post No.8111)


Post No. 8111

Date uploaded in London – 5  June 2020       

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I and YOU did not change for 15, 000 Years in English

As a person interested in languages and linguistics, I have collected a lot of paper cuttings over the years. Now due to my old age, I have been discarding them at a great speed.  Just before throwing some cuttings into dust bin I wanted to make certain comments.

English is changing quickly. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) adds between 2000 and 2500 words each year according an article in New Scientist dated 3 March 2012.

By studying English texts from the last 1000 years ,two research scholars noticed that the less a verb is used, the more likely it is to become regular. If a word is rare ,we don’t always remember if it is irregular.

To wed is already changing. Nowadays people say newly ‘wedded’ rather than newly ‘wed’.

The researchers speculate that irregular plurals will follow a similar trend – men could become mans. By such research, scholars can predict which words would be ousted by  new coinages or terms imported from another language.

English words often change their spelling and pronunciation over time, but some are replaced by another word that means the same.

According to their computer model ‘we’ did not change for 19,000 years. ‘Brid’ became ‘bird’ before 3200 years. Just ‘R’ changed its place.

Another interesting thing is Rig Vedic word ‘Nama’ is in oldest English book ‘Beowuf’. Now it is changed as ‘Name’. Probably we may find more Sanskrit words in Beowulf. It is over 1000 years old.

My comments

In 2000 years old Sangam Tamil literature , poets used only ‘Yaan’ for ‘I’; but in less than 500 years it changed to ‘Naan’ for ‘I’. Now Tamils use only Naan. But ‘Nee’ for’ you’ did not change for 2000 years at all. There is a new puzzle. ‘Neengal’ for You (plural) was not used in Sangam age!! Now it is very common.

In short English research is not applicable to Tamil!!

In Sanskrit ‘Aham’ for ‘I’ and ‘Tvam’ for ‘You’ remain same from Vedic period. Famous statements like ‘Aham Brahmasmi’, ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ never changed.

Why did it happen in one part of India differently? We have to do more research.

I and You in English

Another news item in Metro newspaper dated 8 May 2013 says 23 words were used 15,000 years ago by cave men. Once again they applied computer model by putting the words for the same object or pronoun from several European languages. They have come to the conclusion that there are Seven Super Language Families .

Research scholars from the University of Reading found out that our ancestors were not monosyllabic.

Using statistical models which examine the frequency with which certain words are used and their role in speech, those behind the study were able to predict which phrases were used at the time of the last Ice Age.

They claim people living in Southern Europe and Central Asia 150,00 years ago world have used words such as “I, You, Who, We and Not”. More interestingly words such as “Mother, Bark, Fire , Ashes, Spit, Worm” were also part of their vocabulary. In all 23 words  were identified. The research pushes the boundaries of etymology in that it goes back 15,000 years

Hunter gatherers do a lot of spitting. There is a suggestion that ‘to spit’ is an onomatopoeia word – it sounds like what you are doing.

Onomatopoeia should be the same across different languages, the same sound. 15000 years ago everyone was a hunter gatherer.

‘Bark’ from the trees was used as an insulator. People slept on it. They burnt it to make fire. They used it to make fibres. Bark was sometimes used as medicine.

The word on the list which most caught the eyes of the researchers is ‘GIVE’. Human society is unique in the amount of ‘giving’ that they do.

We should be astonished really that our languages can be transmitted with such accuracy that they can retain traces of their ancestry for may be 15,000 years , Prof.Mark Pagel of the university’s evolutionary biology department said, adding that languages go back even further, perhaps 45000 years. 

My comments

There is a beautiful Upanishad story which is at least 3000 years old. I have already posted it  in this blog some years ago. This is about GIVING. When Humans, Devas and Sub Humans (Demons/Asuras) approached God for some advice God made the thunder to speak. It thundered ‘Da…  Da…. Da……’ That sound was the advice they got. Humans lacked one virtue, i.e. Giving and Sharing. So they took Da means Datta Datta, Datta= Give Give Give.

Sub Human Demons lacked Mercy, Compassion be cause they were cannibals. So they took it Daya, Daya, Daya ;Be Compassionate , Be Compassionate, Be Compassionate.

Devas were always after Pleasure, Enjoying things. So they took Da as ‘Damyata, Damyata, Damyata’ = Have Self Control, Self Control, Self control.

Professor Pagel also said ‘GIVE’ was one of the 23 words that were used by the cave men

Second point I want to make is about the Tamils who claim their language and literature existed 10,000 or 20, 000 years ago. They must read the researches done in the field of Languages and Linguistics.  They may also do some research by feeding the words into computer and come to the conclusion about their chronology.


The third paper cutting I am dust binning is from Metro newspaper dated 8 July 2008.

It says that a new English word is created every 98 minutes. But it will be included in the dictionary only when it is used at least 25,000 times in the mainstream global media.

Paul Payack of the Global Language Monitor said,

“language boils up from the people and we see this by the assimilation of words from hip-hop, Hollywood and Bollywood.

English is the global language. it is understood by 25 percent of the people on the planet. Despite having million words at our disposal, the average person’s vocabulary is fewer than 14,000 words. Someone linguistically gifted would use about 70,000 words.

Thanks to e mail and the internet new words are cropping up quickly.


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