Cuneiform inscription from the Royal Palace at Khorsabad
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Ancient languages reconstructed by computer program

A new tool has been developed that can reconstruct long-dead languages.

Researchers have created software that can rebuild protolanguages - the ancient tongues from which our modern languages evolved.

To test the system, the team took 637 languages currently spoken in Asia and the Pacific and recreated the early language from which they descended.

The work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Here, a linguist reads out words in several Austronesian languages followed by the ancient word that they evolved from.