An ancient language from the ancient Near East has been found to be more than five times as good as modern-day Greek and more than 15 times as efficient at translating ancient Greek and English.
The language, the Yagyu, is about the size of modern English and can be reconstructed from DNA, according to a new study.
The Yagyans were the language of the people of the region before the rise of the Assyrians, who brought with them the first written records of their language, according a team led by Prof Michael Pfeiffer of the University of Cambridge.
The research appears in the journal Nature.
“What makes the Yags unique is the large number of ancient genetic variants we’re using to reconstruct the Yagan language, and the very different way that these variants are expressed,” said Prof Pfeitter, who led the research with his colleagues.
The team sequenced the Yagenes genomes, which contain about half the genes in modern-days languages.
It was not clear if the Yagnans language had a specific ancient form, but it appears to be a variant of a language that has been spoken in the region for many thousands of years.
“The Yags are the first language of a culture whose language was already spoken by some 300,000 years ago, a time when the region was already in a very advanced stage of civilisation,” said Dr Rachel Schuman, a linguist at the University the University College London.
The study was carried out with funding from the Leverhulme Trust and the British Research Council.
It is the first time that the YAGYAN language has been studied in detail.
The researchers sequenced more than 200 Yagnan genetic variants, and used them to reconstruct Yagyaic language.
The most common genetic variant was one that is expressed in the brain, but other genetic variants were also detected in the brains of people from around the world.
“This study has revealed that YAGyans have a highly efficient and complex way of expressing language, with an extraordinary number of variants, that are used in their everyday lives,” said lead author Prof Richard Jones, from the University’s Department of Anthropology and Evolutionary Biology.
“It’s a very interesting finding.”
The YAGYAIC language is spoken in northern Iran, Iraq and Turkey.
It includes the word Yag, meaning “tree”, and the word yagya, which means “tree speaker”.
Yagyaics are widely spoken in areas where there is a high concentration of speakers, such as northern Iraq and Iran.
“There are a lot of Yagyan speakers in northern Iraq, where we found a significant number of YAGyaic speakers,” said Professor Jones.
The ancient YAG Yagan was the first spoken language in the area that was known as the Old Kingdom.
The oldest known written record of the language is from a fragment of the Akkadian inscriptions from the 6th century BC, which date to the 3rd century BC.
“Our analysis shows that the language was spoken in Iran about 300,0000 years ago,” said co-author Dr Michael Pugh from the Department of Linguistics at the National University of Singapore.
“At that time, the region around Iran was still being settled, and so this was an important part of the early culture.”
Ancient linguists have long been intrigued by the way that Yagys are represented in the language and its speakers.
The linguists sequenced YAGyan genome sequences from more than 300 Yagnanian genomes from a variety of locations across the world and used that to reconstruct their ancient language.
“We were surprised to find that Yagan speakers are so much more efficient at expressing their language than the modern speakers,” Dr Pugh said.
“They can produce a single syllable of the YAgyaic word and it takes them just about the same time to produce a full sentence.”
“There’s no doubt that the ancient Yagnians were extremely skilled at creating a complex language, but there are still many mysteries about how they spoke it.”
The team plans to further investigate the Yaginans language.