Before There Was English, French, Spanish, There Was . . . PIE!


CCSS NCSS-1 339 Words 3-Minute Listen

Long before there was English, German, Hindi, Spanish, French and the myriad of other languages that we speak today, there was Proto-Indo European or what linguists affectionately call PIE. Believed to have been spoken sometime between 4,500 and 3,700 B.C. by our ancestors in Europe and Asia, it is the most researched of all ancient languages simply, because it is believed to be the root of many of the modern ones.

Given that there is no written or verbal record of PIE, experts have spent years trying to reconstruct it by finding common words amongst languages like Latin, Greek and Sanskrit. While a few brave ones have attempted at writing a short parable in the ancient language, no one has ever attempted to speak it aloud, let alone record it, until now.

Earlier this week, University of Kentucky linguistics expert Dr. Andrew Byrd released the first recording of a parable of sheep and horses as it may have sounded in PIE. It was first penned in the ancient language in 1868 by German linguist Dr. August Schleicher as an attempt to recreate the vocabulary. Since then, many linguists have re-written it in their own version of PIE. The one that Dr. Byrd has attempted to pronounce is the rendition written by his mentor, UCLA linguist, Dr. H. Creig Melchart.

Of course, given that there is no definitive version of this language, whether this was how our ancestors communicated is just an educated guess. But since that is something we will never be able to confirm, we will just have to take the expert's word for it. However despite the popularity of his recording, Dr. Byrd says he will never attempt to make another one because he would first have to write something in PIE, which judging from the rather convoluted looking alphabets is not an easy task.

And in case you are wondering what Dr. Byrd is saying, here is the original parable that Dr. Schleicher translated in PIE.

English does a lot easier now doesn't it?


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  • kid600
    kid600Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 5:47 pm
    pie mean Proto-Indo-European get it p in proto, I in indo, and e in European that makes PIE
    • Square_StarWednesday, January 6, 2016 at 6:39 am
      what does the pie mean? i dont know but what is pie? (not the food pie)
      • We hit the quanMonday, October 19, 2015 at 8:07 am
        Wow that is so weird. I would of called it something else. How funny is that.😘😘😘
        • coolash123Sunday, October 18, 2015 at 1:51 pm
          why is it called that?!
          • turtlenicole
            turtlenicoleSunday, October 26, 2014 at 6:56 pm
            pi = 3.14
            • pipermc11
              pipermc11Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm
              Wow. I never heard of Pie either Dance_Girl. Well, you know what they say: "Learn something new each day!"
              • Dance_GirlWednesday, October 30, 2013 at 2:42 pm
                I was really interested in this article. Inever knew about pie before. i knew it was a number not a langusge.
                • AdmenFriday, October 25, 2013 at 10:03 am
                  It cool
                  • DogFriday, October 25, 2013 at 9:04 am
                    Why did they call it pie
                    • meganb
                      meganbSunday, October 26, 2014 at 12:59 pm
                      it is short for Proto-Indo European
                      • steve97113
                        steve97113Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 12:04 pm
                        Ya why do thay
                      • brill techThursday, October 24, 2013 at 6:13 pm