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Searching for the common language of our ancestors

Mark Pagel, an evolutionary theorist from the University of Reading, believes that many of today's languages could have stemmed from one original language that dates back 15,000 years. Because words don't have DNA, researchers use cognates found in different languages today to reconstruct the ancestral "protowords." Historical linguists have observed that

How the King James Bible changed the English language

The BBC has posted up an interesting article looking at the impact of the King James Bible, published 400 years ago, on the English language. No other book, or indeed any piece of culture, seems to have influenced the English language as much as the King James Bible. Its turns of

Baby names: The legacy of the Norman conquest

Why have Norman names such as William, Henry, Robert, Alice and Matilda been popular for 1,000 years after the Norman conquest? Further wreathing the 11th Century in mystery, says Professor Bartlett, is how unfamiliar the names of the Anglo-Saxon protagonists are to modern ears - Aethelred, Eadric, Leofric. By contrast,

Oldest written English found in British church

What is believed to be the oldest example of written English in a British church has been found in Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire. Can you decode it? Post your thoughts here. It was hidden for 350 years behind a monument to a local aristocrat who was 'martyred' in the

Early queen’s skeleton found in German cathedral

The remains of one of the earlist members of the English royal family may have been found in a German cathedral. They believe a near-complete female skeleton, aged 30 to 40, found wrapped in silk in a lead coffin in Magdeburg Cathedral is that of Queen Eadgyth. The granddaughter of Alfred the

How the English saw the French in the 12th Century

A newly translated 12th century poem reveals that the English thought the French were lazy, arrogant cowards. Written between 1180 and 1194, a century after the Norman Conquest united England and Normandy against a common enemy in France, the 396-line poem was part of a propaganda war between London and Paris. Poet

The world’s first historical thesaurus

45 years after the project began, the world's first historial thesaurus is set to be published. The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary will contain almost every word in English from Old English to the present day. It will contain nearly 800,000 meanings, organised along similar lines to Roget's Thesaurus, into