Most students study at least one other language in school. While most learn French or Spanish—popular languages that are commonly spoken today—some may choose to study a “dead language” like Latin. Learning an ancient language, however, can be a strange endeavor for many people, since in many cases, it is unclear what the pronunciation was for words. Well, a YouTube channel called Equator AI seeks to demystify history by using AI to bring ancient languages to life.
Their videos feature artificially created portraits of people dressed in the clothing from different eras who recite ancient texts in the most likely pronunciation. While it is hard to be completely certain about how some of these languages were spoken, the clips do help these distant cultures feel much more real. In addition to Latin and Ancient Greek, their videos include Old English, Akkadian, Sumerian, Ancient Egyptian, Phoenician, and Etruscan.
One of their videos displays the written text that the AI characters are reading on one side of the screen, so those who are familiar with the written version (or people who are curious about the written text) can follow along. People in the comments were quick to point out the familiarity between some ancient languages and their modern descendant. “The [ancient] Greek at the end is actually quite easy to understand. He speaks to us from almost two thousand years ago, and still sounds like someone we met today,” comments one person. Another writes, “Latin sounds really cool the way it is pronounced here as a Proto-Italic language. At school we learned and spoke it not so rhythmically, stiffer.”
However, not all of the ancient languages sound so familiar. Old English—which some might expect to be easier to understand—sounds dramatically different to what is spoken today. One of the reasons for this startling change is the Great Vowel Shift, which took place between 1400 and 1700. During this time, English speakers altered the pronunciation of their long vowels as well as some consonant sounds.
Scroll down to see more educational videos, and be sure to subscribe to Equator AI's YouTube channel for more.