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Some of the oldest words in Englishhave been identified, scientists say。

  科学家们相信,他们找到了英文中最古老的文字。 (来源:英语博客 http://space.englishcn.com)

  Reading University researchers claim "I", "we", "two" and"three" are among the most ancient, dating back tens of thousandsof years。

  雷丁大学的研究人员认为,“我”、“我们”、“二”和“三”是英文中最古老的词汇,它们的历史可以追溯到四万年前。

  Their computer model analyses the rate of change of words in Englishand the languages that share a common heritage。

  科研人员们通过一个计算机模型,对英文词汇变化和消失的几率进行了分析测算,并展现出语言的普遍发展历程。

  The team says it can predict which words are likely to becomeextinct--citing "squeeze", "guts", "stick" and"bad" as probable first casualties。

  研究预测,“挤”、“胆量”、“木棍”和“坏”将很可能成为最先被废弃和绝迹的词汇。

  "We use a computer to fit a range of models that tell us howrapidly these words evolve," said MarkPagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University ofReading。

  雷丁大学进化生物学家马克·佩格尔说:“我们利用计算机模型测算出这些词的发展速率。”

  At the root of the Reading University effort is a lexicon of 200 words that is not specific toculture or technology, and is therefore likely to represent

  concepts that have not changed acrossnations or millennia。

  雷丁大学的研究进行的基础是一个包含约200个词汇的词汇库,库中的词汇大多是一些表达人类对事物共同感知、不易因习俗和科技而改变的词,而非那些随着科技和时代进步应运而生的新词。

  "We have lists of words that linguists have produced for us thattell us if two words in related languages actually derive from acommon ancestral word," said ProfessorPagel.

  佩格尔教授说:“我们开发这个词汇库首先需要让语言学专家来告诉我们,不同语系的两个词汇是否会存在一个共同的出处。”

  "We have descriptionsof the ways we think words change and their ability to change intoother words, and those descriptions can be turned into amathematical language," he added。

  佩格尔教授补充说道:“我们掌握了词汇改变以及它们转变成其它词汇的信息,之后我们把这些信息转变成数学语言。”

  What the researchers foundwas that the frequency with which a word is used relates to howslowly it changes through time, so that the most common words tendto be the oldest ones。

  研究人员还发现,词汇的使用频率和其生命力紧密相关,越是普通的词汇,存在的时间也越长久。

  For example, the words "I" and "who" are among the oldest, alongwith the words "two", "three", and "five". The word "one" is onlyslightly younger。

  比如,“我”、“谁”、“二”、“三”和“五”的历史就非常久远,而“一”则略微年轻一点。

  The word "four" experienced a linguistic evolutionary leap that makes itsignificantly younger in English and different from otherIndo-European languages。

  英文数字“四”由于经历过一次语言上的进化过程,所以更为年轻一些,它和其它欧印语种的发音也大为不同。

  Meanwhile, the fastest-changing words are projected to die outand be replaced by other words much sooner。

  与之相比,变化速度越快的词汇,消亡以及被其它词汇取代的速度也越快。

  For example, "dirty" is a rapidly changing word; currently thereare 46 different ways of saying it in the Indo-European languages,all words that are unrelated to each other. As a result, it islikely to die out soon in English, along with "stick" and"guts"。

  例如,“脏”就是一个变化迅速的词汇,欧印语系中表达“脏”的方式共有46种,而且每种听上去都很不相同。所以,这个词和“木棍”、“胆量”一样,很可能很快就在英文中消失。

  "If you've ever played 'Chinese whispers', what comes out theend is usually gibberish. Yetour language can somehow retain its fidelity," Professor Pagelsaid。

  佩格尔教授说:“玩过‘传话’游戏的人都知道,同样的一句话从第一个人传到最后一个人时通常已经面目全非了。由此看来,语言对我们还是很忠诚的。”

 
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