Linguists at the University of Auckland have traced back the roots of the Indo-European branch of languages to the time and place of origin.
Time? During the agricultural expansion, about 8500-9000 years ago.
Place? A steppe region in present-day Turkey.
How’d they figure it out? By quite literally just walking back in time with words:
The researchers started with a menu of vocabulary items that are known to be resistant to linguistic change, like pronouns, parts of the body and family relations, and compared them with the inferred ancestral word in proto-Indo-European. Words that have a clear line of descent from the same ancestral word are known as cognates. Thus “mother,” “mutter” (German), “mat’ ” (Russian), “madar” (Persian), “matka” (Polish) and “mater” (Latin) are all cognates derived from the proto-Indo-European word “mehter.”
That is fascinating.