Sounds like you're speaking my lingo
Published 13/09/2016 | 02:30
Humans across the globe may be speaking the same language, according to scientists who found the sounds used for the words of common objects and ideas are strikingly similar.
The discovery challenges one of the fundamental principles of linguistics, that the relationship between the sound of a word and its meaning is arbitrary.
Research that looked into several thousand languages showed that, for basic concepts such as body parts, family relationships or aspects of the natural world, there are common sounds.
"These sound-symbolic patterns show up again and again across the world, independent of the geographical dispersal of humans and independent of language lineage," said Dr Morten Christiansen, director of Cornell's Cognitive Neuroscience Lab in the US where the study was carried out. "There does seem to be something about the human condition that leads to these patterns."
For example, in most languages, the word for "nose" is likely to include the sounds "neh" or the "oo" sound, as in "ooze". The words for "red" and "round" are likely to include the "r" sound.
"It doesn't mean all words have these sounds, but the relationship is much stronger than we'd expect by chance," said Dr Christiansen.