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The Horse, the Wheel, and Language by David W. Anthony

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CHAPTER TWO

How to Reconstruct a Dead Language

Proto-Indo-European has been dead as a spoken language for at least forty-five hundred years. The people who spoke it were nonliterate, so there are no inscriptions. Yet, in 1868, August Schleicher was able to tell a story in reconstructed Proto-Indo-European, called “The Sheep and the Horses,” or Avis akvasas ka. A rewrite in 1939 by Herman Hirt incorporated new interpretations of Proto-Indo-European phonology, and the title became Owis ek’woses-kwe. In 1979 Winfred Lehmann and Ladislav Zgusta suggested only minor new changes in their version, Owis ekwoskwe. While linguists debate increasingly minute ...

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