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Scientists Discover Similarities Between Different Languages, Link Between Sound and Meaning

Sep 14, 2016 04:16 AM EDT
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Scientists have made a remarkable discovery about the different languages across the world. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists have found a pattern between sound and meaning.

The research was done at the Cornell Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. Here, scientists were able to find strong statistical data proving that there is a link between the sounds of the words and certain basic concepts.

Such study is a huge contrast to earlier research done. Yet, scientists claim the findings in this field were due to a limited selection of languages. If one would compare all different languages across the world, there is certainly a link between the sound and the meaning of words.

"People haven't been able to show whether sound symbolism is really something more pervasive throughout languages all over the world. And this is the first time anyone has been able to show that at such a scale," stated professor of Psychology, Morten H. Christiansen.

For the study, scientists analyzed 85 percent of linguistic lineages. In addition, they studied the sounds of 40 to 100 basic vocabulary words in 62 percent of the 6,000 current languages of the world. The focus of the study was on pronouns, verbs, nouns, properties and body parts.

To their surprise, words about parts of the body had a strong similarity between varieties of languages. For example, in the word tongue, which uses the "l" sound, there were similarities of the word and its sound in Catalan, Estonian, French, and Hungarian language.

"These sound symbolic patterns show up again and again across the world, independent of the geographical dispersal of humans and independent of language lineage. There does seem to be something about the human condition that leads to these patterns. We don't know what it is, but we know it's there," added Professor Christiansen.

More research is needed for a deeper understanding on the link between sound and meaning of words. For now, researches state that the link could be some form of "prehistoric language" that may suggest biology is somewhat at play.

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