Old England

Oldest English Words

According to the BBC Reading University researchers have identified some of the oldest English words in the languages history.

‘I’, ‘We’, ‘Two’ and ‘Three’ are among the oldest known words, which could be thousands of years old.

The Researchers have created a computer model, which can analyse the rate of change of words. It can also predict which words will become extinct.

They believe “squeeze”, “guts”, “stick” and “bad” could become obsolete first.

The computer programme is designed to log a timeline showing how modern Indo-European words have changed over time. Students can use the software to look up any date and they can see which words were used at that time.
The researchers using the computer programme found that common words or words with precise meanings were more inclined to be the oldest and most long standing.

Basically, if you were able to go back in time (if you can that’s amazing you should tell someone about that!) Reading University could provide you with a pocket guide to the language of that time. This would enable you to communicate with English speakers throughout the ages.

This amazing piece of software can also travel forward in time and predict how words are likely to change in the future.

Does the T.A.R.D.I.S have this facility the Doctor might find this tool very useful.
Basically these guys have too much time on their hands; if they invented a tool to actually travel in time then I’d be impressed.

Words will change over time, it is inevitable. Kids make up words all the time, some stick, some don’t. New words are added to our dictionary now and again, but I don’t think old ones really disappear or become extinct. They will always be remembered somehow in books or multimedia programmes.

I guess words go out of fashion. It’s all swings and roundabouts really.

4 replies
  1. ralph ferrara
    ralph ferrara says:

    am happy to find this site. any lists on words we expect to lose – and why – over the next 20, 50 and 100 years?

    thank you!

  2. ralph ferrara
    ralph ferrara says:

    I attended a seminar recently conducted by someone with a master in linguistics.
    She speculates that the verb ‘do’ will become obsolete – there are only a handful of languages that utilize an auxilliary verb such as ‘to do’ (icelandic, the celtic languages and possibly a semitic language).
    moreover, ‘any’ as well is predicted to be lost and in place of ‘do’ and ‘any’ in the flwg sentence, inflection will be used to ask the same question: You have money?

    Words that remain in a language without change are normally pronouns, numbers and body parts which is in line with your opening sentence (I, we, three).

    Question: i recently saw at an etymology site that has quizzes stating that ‘mind your Ps and Qs refers to teachers instructing their students not to forget the usuage of the 2 letters, as opposed to another theory about bartenders using that for pints and quarts of beer.
    which is correct?

    Thank you

  3. Lee
    Lee says:

    I don’t know which words will become obsolete, but I hope that people stop using the simple past where they should use the pluperfect subjunctive (e.g., saying “if I did X” when it should be “if I had done X”).


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