Thursday, December 2

We will become an “interplanetary species” and that will make us strangers: the language we will speak when we live in space

One of the greatest controversies in contemporary linguistics You are wondering why, despite being thousands of kilometers apart, Turks, Japanese, Koreans, Siberians, and Manchu speak such similar languages. Although more than 250 million people speak these Altaic (or Transurasian) languages, their origin remains a huge mystery.

Today, in fact, the magazine ‘Nature’ brings a study combining historical linguistics, ancient DNA, and archeology to Targeting a Specific Origin: Millet Farmers in the Liao Valley of Northeast China. Faced with the “pastoral hypothesis” according to which the dispersion of these languages ​​was carried out by the nomads of the steppes around 2000-1000 BC, these researchers believe that their origin is older (9,000 BC) and based on the extension of agriculture.

But What I find most interesting is not this, it is how they have come up with that theory. In addition to genetic issues and different patterns of propagation, the researchers turned to the study of the most basic common vocabulary shared by these languages. It is in this archaic lexicon that the genealogy that places its origin in small Mijera communities on the banks of the Liao River can be seen.

The languages ​​of the stars

This has led me to go not to the past of the language, but to the future. In the Turkic and Mongolian languages, all the lexicon related to the horses, the steppes and the social organization of that environment came later. And, in fact, it became so embedded that researchers have struggled to understand that they were not part of its original core. So that, What will happen to our tongues when we manage to go one step further and spread out into other solar systems?

Science fiction is wrong: there is (almost) no chance that we would be able to communicate with aliens

Much has been argued about whether galactic isolation condemn the different communities human beings to have different (or even radically different) languages. In fact, we have academic studies on the subject. In the great star trips, “if you are in a (spaceship) for 10 generations, new concepts will emerge, new social problems and people will create ways of talking about them”, explained Andrew McKenzie of the University of Kansas and one of the leading experts on this topic. “The further you go, the less you will talk to people at home”

In relation to what I was commenting on, the vocabulary of those languages ​​would become specific only for each spacecraft (or groups of ships) and, over time, the sounds of the different letters would probably change. In the same way, the structure of words and sentences could also be clearly differentiated. It is nothing strange, of course. History is full of examples of how languages ​​have changed rapidly in the face of isolation: the space will not be special.

For everyone’s peace of mind, that future is still very distant. There are no compelling reasons to think that the colonization of Mars, for example, will affect our ability to communicate with each other. Even possible future settlements around the solar system don’t have to have this problem. If everything is done well, of course.

Imagen | Space X

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