Nautilus

The English Word That Hasn’t Changed in Sound or Meaning in 8,000 Years

The word lox was one of the clues that eventually led linguists to discover who the Proto-Indo-Europeans were, and where they lived.Photograph by Helen Cook / Flickr

ne of my favorite words is ,” says Gregory Guy, a professor of linguistics at New York University. There is hardly a more quintessential New York food than a lox bagel—a century-old popular appetizing store, Russ & Daughters, it “The Classic.” But Guy, who has lived in the city for the past 17 years, is passionate about lox for a different reason. “The pronunciation in the Proto-Indo-European was probably ‘lox,’ and that’s exactly how it is pronounced in modern English,” he says. “Then, it meant salmon, and now it specifically means ‘smoked salmon.’ It’s really cool that that word hasn’t changed its pronunciation

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus12 min read
The Dreams of the Man Who Discovered Neurons: Santiago Ramón y Cajal recorded his dreams to prove Freud wrong.
Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a Spanish histologist and anatomist known today as the father of modern neuroscience, was also a committed psychologist who believed psychoanalysis and Freudian dream theory were “collective lies.” When Freud published The Int
Nautilus3 min read
Nautilus To Be Acquired By Ownership Group Of Super-Fans
From the newswire: Award-winning magazine and fast-growing science brand poised for growth An investor group of super-fans has banded together as a single ownership group to acquire Nautilus, the literary science magazine with more than 10 thousand m
Nautilus6 min readScience
As Winters Shrink, Our Discontent Grows: Our sense of order is disappearing with the snow packs.
Winter is changing its character. Since the beginning of the 21st century, glaciers have been melting at record speed. In Central Asia, they’ve lost approximately one quarter of their volume over the past 50 years. An ice grotto in Switzerland that i