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The development of intricate sentences in modern European languages has unfolded slowly. These languages now churn out relative clauses with boundless enthusiasm but their common ancestor, Proto-Indo-European, may have lacked the necessary grammatical tools to produce them at all. According to linguist Guy Deutscher, the earliest clay tablets (about 2500 B.C.) of the ancient language Akkadian reveal few embedded clauses. The same is evidently true of the earliest stages of other ancient written languages such as Sumerian, Hittite, or Greek. Although these languages boasted a profusion of grammatical features suitable for expressing subtle nuances of meaning, and included a variety of fancy word-building techniques, they avoided complicated sentence recursion. When they did combine clauses into larger structures, this technique looked less like Russian dolls, with one clause inside another, and more like beads on a necklace, with one clause added next to another, and resembled this sentence from an old Hittite text (14th century B.C.):
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