Revealed: The world's oldest words... and the ones that will disappear

Cavemen in the Stone Age may have understood words such as 'I' and ''we', scientists believe

By Niall Firth Last updated at 6:21 PM on 26th February 2009

Some of the oldest words in the English language date back more than 20,000 years, it has been revealed.

Words such as 'I', 'we', 'two', 'three' and 'five' were probably used by our ancestors in the Stone Age - and have changed very little since then.

Numerals and pronouns are the least resistant to change because they are used most frequently and have very precise meanings, researchers have discovered.

In contrast, words that change rapidly across nations, languages and time are more likely to die off in the future.

All of the major languages in Europe, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent developed from one original root and form the Indo-European family of languages.

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