Gail Hairston, a PR person for the University for Kentucky, writes about a linguist with a great job:
Throughout Andrew Byrd’s successful career in academia, he has pushed to understand ancient languages to a depth no one has before. His goal was to understand how languages spoken thousands of years ago actually sounded. […]
He and his wife Brenna Byrd, also a linguist and assistant professor of German at UK, helped the video game creators Ubisoft bring to life “Far Cry Primal”, which involved warring tribes in 10,000 BCE. Ubisoft wanted realistic conversations among the prehistoric Homo sapiens, so the Byrds partnered their skills. While he created the words and their sounds, she relied on her award-winning skill at teaching foreign languages to teach the game’s actors to speak the languages realistically.
After the video game was manufactured, it wasn’t long before another opportunity was offered to Byrd.
This one came from television’s National Geographic Channel. Producers wanted the UK linguist to help create verbal languages for a new series to be called “Origins: The Journey of Humankind.” Futurist Jason Silva hosts this visually arresting new series that offers a twist on conventional historical documentaries as it explores the big question of how humans “got from there to here,” in the evolution from apes to astronauts. […]
Byrd remembered an early conversation with the producers, “First, they said they were fans of my work in ‘Far Cry Primal,’ then they asked me if I could create languages in different time frames, even different parts of the world.”
“What about 2,000 years ago, Europe?”
“Yes, sure,” Byrd answered.
“4,000 years ago?”
“How about 14,000 years ago in Eurasia and northern Africa?”
“There’s a lot we don’t know about those regions, but yes, I can make an educated guess that will be reasonably close,” Byrd said.
“Southern France, 25,000 years ago? Australia, 50,000 years ago?”
“Those languages would be based on very little actual data, but I can make a good attempt,” he said.
The producers were more than happy with that answer, and now Byrd’s work can be found in virtually every episode of the new series.
Needless to say, I’m more than dubious about these sort-of-reconstructed languages, but hey, it’s only TV, and at least an actual linguist is involved. (I posted about Byrd’s website The *Bʰlog in 2014.) Thanks, Trevor!