Oldest English Words Include 'Two,' 'Three'—But Not 'Four'

By Marie Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2009 1:59 PM CST
Oldest English Words Include 'Two,' 'Three'—But Not 'Four'
Language is tens of thousands of years old, but writing emerged only about 5 millennia ago.   (©(nutmeg))

"I," "we," "two," and "three" have existed for tens of thousands of years, making them among the oldest words in the English language, new research reveals. Computer analysis of Indo-European languages helped isolate "the ways we think words change and their ability to change into other words," a researcher tells the BBC.

Other venerable words include "two" and "five," but "four" is significantly younger, the Reading University scientists found. Their computer models also allow the researchers to predict which words are evolving right out of existence. They tend to be words whose definitions change often, which are frequently verbs. Watch your back, "squeeze," "guts," "dirty," and "push."
(Read more English language stories.)

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