Here's How Far You'd Have to Go Back For English to Stop Making Sense

Language is evolving all the time. Describing something as naughty, awful, or terrific a couple centuries ago had very different connotations from what we now see today. And just as words (or non-words) are constantly popping up that would have meant nothing in the not-so-distant past, older parts of our language are also disappearing for good.

This video from the history-focused YouTube channel YesterVid explores how far back in time modern English-speakers would have to travel for their own language to become something they wouldn't recognize. Aside from not being able to understand some outdated slang terms, it wouldn't be too difficult to get by in the 18th and 19th centuries with the language skills we have now. The Great Vowel Shift took place during the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, so while you still would have been able to recognize a lot words of the time, understanding their pronunciation would have been half the battle. (You have this confusing period to thank for the different pronunciations of "ea" in words like "knead," "bread," and "great.")

Though conversing with fellow English speakers would have been a struggle prior to 1400, it's not until the turn of the first millennium that English might as well have been another language altogether. You can watch the full video above and subscribe to YesterVid for more history-filled content.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Header/banner images courtesy of YesterVid via YouTube.

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The Evolution of "Two" in the Indo-European Language Family
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The Indo-European language family includes most of the languages of Europe as well as many languages in Asia. There is a long research tradition that has shown, though careful historical comparison, that languages spanning a huge linguistic and geographical range, from French to Greek to Russian to Hindi to Persian, are all related to each other and sprung from a common source, Proto-Indo-European. One of the techniques for studying the relationship of the different languages to each other is to look at the similarities between individual words and work out the sound changes that led from one language to the next.

This diagram, submitted to Reddit by user IronChestplate1, shows the word for two in various Indo-European languages. (The “proto” versions, marked with an asterisk, are hypothesized forms, built by working backward from historical evidence.) The languages cluster around certain common features, but the words are all strikingly similar, especially when you consider the words for two in languages outside the Indo-European family: iki (Turkish), èjì (Yoruba), ni (Japanese), kaksi (Finnish), etc. There are many possible forms two could take, but in this particular group of languages it is extremely limited. What are the chances of that happening by accident? Once you see it laid out like this, it doesn’t take much to put *dwóh and *dwóh together.

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Beyond Plumbing: 19 Other Jobs on Mario's Resume
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Nintendo made news this week by subtly announcing that Mario is no longer a plumber. In fact, they're really downplaying his whole plumbing career. On the character's Japanese-language bio, the company says, "He also seems to have worked as a plumber a long time ago."

But Mario has always had plenty of jobs on the side. Here's a look at his resume:


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