photo credit Tommye Scanlin

A writer-editor-teacher’s quote of the week #77

Linguists have long realized that if they could establish the words that were shared across these vast distances – particularly by now well-separated languages – they might be able to reconstruct the world in which the original Proto-Indo-European language was spoken. This is the great paradox of language: words are the least substantial medium in which meaning can be formed, but they can preserve hints and suggestions of the ancient past when material remains scarcely can. Of course, languages evolve, but words that have been transmitted only by speech can nevertheless retain something in their core that is resistant to the erosions of time.

– from Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson