Indo-European languages to be scientifically compared Skip to content

Indo-European languages to be scientifically compared

A group of international scientists, among them Icelandic linguist Jóhanna Barddal, have received a grant of ISK 134 million (EUR 1.5 million, USD 2 million) for comparing the construction of several languages, including Icelandic.

Barddal works at the University of Bergen, Norway, which issued part of the grant. The rest of the money was granted from a research fund founded by the Norwegian entrepreneur and Bergen native Trond Mohn. Morgunbladid reports.

The group wants to examine and compare the construction of sentences and declensions in Indo-European languages such as Icelandic, Gothic, Russian, Greek, Latin and Sanskrit.

In Icelandic, sentences can be constructed thus: “Okkur langar í hardfisk,” which directly translates to: “Us want dried fish.”

These kind of sentences, where the subject is in dative, can be found in other Indo-European languages, i.e. Sanskrit, which form the basis of the planned comparison, which, according to Morgunbladid, has never been done in this way before.

“Icelandic is key in this research because it is a very archaic language and because this whole project originates in earlier research projects of the Icelandic language,” Barddal said.

The aim with the project is to find out if all these languages are different branches of an original Indo-European language and how that language may have been constructed.

The project is scheduled to take at least four years and the scientists are looking for further funding.

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