View a full-size diagram. (Credit: UC Berkeley)
A new computer program can rapidly reconstruct “proto-languages”—the linguistic ancestors from which all modern languages have evolved. Humans’ earliest written records date back less than 6,000 years, long after the advent of many proto-languages.
“What excites me about this system is that it takes so many of the great ideas that linguists have had about historical reconstruction, and it automates them at a new scale: more data, more words, more languages, but less time,” says Dan Klein, an associate professor of computer science at University of California, Berkeley.
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