mixing acoustic phonetics, statistics and comparative philology to bring speech back from the past

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University of Cambridge
 Phonetics Laboratory

 Statistical Laboratory  

What we are trying to do
Audio demonstrations
Indo-European digits database

Interesting links


Audio demonstrations

Here I'll gather together in one place all the audio demos previously tweeted on the twitter feed @sounds_ancient (, on the blog, and in presentations and lectures. Check out the blog (see link at left) for more demos and examples.

28 October 2016. Today's experiment: Proto-Indo-European *bhreĝ, 'break'

Modern English 'break' comes from Proto-Indo-European *bhreĝ something like this:

23 October 2015. Previously I posted demo of "five" from (Lithuanian) "penki". But PIE has *penkwe, not penki. So here done better:

Starting to fill new table of Indo-European digit sounds at New tokens of *treies, *ksweks, quinque and Ancient Gk, and *penkwe, *septm (wrong stress, but hey), quattuor (hybrid of Ladin kwater and Welsh pedwar, maybe too prominent). Comments +/- welcomed.

11 August 2015. Clips relating to the paper we gave at the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Glasgow (Coleman, Aston and Pigole 2015, "Reconstructing the sounds of words from the past"), is available from the "papers" page (see sidebar at left).

26 May 2015. "Three" comes from Proto-Indo-European "*treyes". Not from Spanish "tres", but that's the nearest I've got. Listen: Here's the MP3 version:

25 May 2015. "One" comes from Proto-Indo-European *oinos, via Middle English "oon", Anglo-Saxon "an", Germanic "oin(s)". Listen:

"One" from "oin(s)", MP3 format:

Previously [12th May] we generated a continuum of sounds from "two" to "twa" and vice-versa. Now, we follow "two" all the way back to Proto-Indo-European *dwo(H). WAV: MP3:

or .

18 May 2015. "Eight" came from Proto-Indo-European *Hokto, via changes something like this: (MP3 version )

15 May 2015. "Four" comes from Anglo-Saxon "feower":

15 May 2015. "Five" comes via fif, fimf, pemp from Proto-Indo-European *penkwe. Lithuanian penki is nearest living word. Listen:

Or if you prefer going forwards in time from Anglo-Saxon "twa" to Modern English "two":

1 April 2015. For , we made a ": to show Anglo-Saxon pronunciations (or something close to them) that survived until quite recently in various German dialects.

John Coleman is supported by a Science in Culture Innovation Award from the
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John Aston is supported by a Fellowship from theEPSRC logo