Offbeat An AI to decipher ancient languages
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© Pixabay The expression "to touch wood", which means to ward off fate for good luck, has its origins in Antiquity, in the days of Persia. Stéphane Bern tells us the story of this phrase, Tuesday, in the program "Historically yours" on Europe 1. Every day, in Historically yours with Matthieu Noël , Stéphane Bern returns to the unusual origin of a word, expression or concept.
A team of scientists at MIT's computer science and artificial intelligence research lab have created artificial intelligence (AI) capable of automatically deciphering languages that have long since been extinct. To do this, the new technology does not need any prior knowledge of the language being studied, nor of the links it could have with other languages.
The goal ofproject is to discover the different relationships that exist between certain dead languages, for which historians have written traces unfortunately difficult to understand, these languages having not been spoken for a very long time.
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© JACK GUEZ Israeli singer Elkana Marziano, 28, sings with a video clip of a song he worked on with the Emirati artist Waleed Aljasim (image on screen), during an interview with AFP at his home in central Israel, October 15, 2020 Normalization between the United Arab Emirates and Israel now has its " hit "signed by a duo of singers from both countries:" Ahlan bik ", an Electro-pop song a bit kitsch on clip mixing images of Dubai and Tel Aviv.
Research suggests that most of the languages that have existed are no longer spoken to this day. Dozens of dead languages are currently considered lost, as linguists have too little information about their grammar, vocabulary or syntax to be able to understand the texts found. For scientists, succeeding in deciphering these languages would nevertheless allow them to better understand the peoples who spoke them.An algorithm that understands dead languages
The MIT team has developed an algorithm capable of understanding how languages evolve over time. He then manages to determine certain linguistic patterns and to better understand these languages.See also
The algorithm knows how to classify the words of an old language and link them to those of another language. If this artificial intelligence cannot, like an online translation service, decipher ancient texts or translate them into a modern language, it can nevertheless identify the roots of the language studied.
For example, the algorithm was notably able to identify with precision the linguistic family to which Iberian belongs, an extinct indigenous language which was spoken in Western Europe around the 7th to the 1st century BC. While his link with the Basque has often been debated, the AI has settled the issue. For the algorithm, the two languages are independent.
The research team hopes that the new system will soon be able to decipher dead languages that have eluded linguists for decades, using only a few thousand words.
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