Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Neanderthals Speak

They have been dead for over 30,000 years. However, an anthropologist has made a stab at what their voices may have sounded like by reconstructing their vocal tracts with a synthesizer. Robert McCarthy of Florida Atlantic University and his work is detailed in a short CNN article titled Neanderthal man speaks after 30,000 years.

To hear the reconstructed voice, click here. It sounds like a frog croaking. "They would have spoken a bit differently," McCarthy said at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Ohio this month. "They wouldn't have been able to produce these quantal vowels that form the basis of spoken language."

McCarthy plans on trying to simulate a whole sentence soon. I can not fathom how he could do this other than making a bunch of sounds which probably would have been meaningless to the Neanderthals. It kind of is like marine biologists who pipe whale sounds under water. I am sure it amuses the whales.

However, it does not matter how close McCarthy gets. At least he is showing what Neanderthal speech may have sounded like. That is interesting and I wish him success.

No comments: