Program opens up the possibility of large-scale recreation of certain dialects.

A new study reveals that a computer program by researchers in Canada and California may be able to recreate extinct languages almost as well as a human. The reconstruction of dead languages – known as proto or root languages – is a meticulous time-consuming task for any linguist so this program could be a labour-saving mechanism that may assist in language analysis.

Manual reconstruction by a person requires looking at a word in two or more languages and making educated guesses about what the possible root word may have sounded like. This program uses an algorithm to do a similar thing, taking theories and rules about linguistics to configure possible root words. Tested against words already determined by linguists, the computer had an 85% success rate of being within one character of the ancient word.

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