How did our linguistic ancestors talk? Listen in

Tower of Babble: "The Confusion of Tongues," by Gustave Dore, reflects a top-down management approach.

(Credit: Wikimedia)

The Book of Genesis describes how humanity once spoke a single language. We didn’t need Google Translate, interpreters, or subtitles.

We all clicked together so awesomely that it was just natural for us to want to build a skyscraper that would reach heaven. It sounded great, especially the penthouse, but God didn’t like that and split our language into incomprehensible gibberish, according to the Bible.

So much for Babel. But the ancestors of more than 2 billion people alive today are believed to have spoken a common tongue, and a linguist has recorded what it might have sounded like.

Andrew Byrd of the University of Kentucky recorded short stories in Proto-Indo-European (PIE), a reconstructed tongue that may have been spoken by some of our forebears up to about 4,000 years ago.

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