Indo-European and the Yamnaya.

I’ve been reading David Reich’s Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past with increasing fascination, and I’ve just gotten to the part about the original Indo-European speakers. The whole book is gripping, starting with the history of genome studies (which have exploded in the last few years) and the surprising new things that have been learned about ancient humans and their migrations and minglings, but this is neither Biochemistryhat nor Archeologyhat, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting the bit I could post about. It comes in Chapter 5, “The Making of Modern Europe”; Reich has been explaining how people of steppe ancestry arrived in Europe around 5,000 years ago and the various culture waves that entailed, with Yamnaya, Corded Ware, and Bell Beaker culture unexpectedly linked. Then he gets to Indo-European, describing Colin Renfrew’s influential 1987 hypothesis that the origin of the family “could be explained by one and the same event: the spread from Anatolia after nine thousand years ago of peoples bringing agriculture,” and David Anthony’s counterargument, the “steppe hypothesis—the idea that Indo-European languages spread from the steppe north of the Black and Caspian seas.” I’ll quote most of the rest of the chapter:

His key observation is that all extant branches of the Indo-European language family except for the most anciently diverging Anatolian ones that are now extinct (such as ancient Hittite) have an elaborate shared vocabulary for wagons, including words for axle, harness pole, and wheels. Anthony interpreted this sharing as evidence that all Indo-European languages spoken today, from India in the east to the Atlantic fringe in the west, descend from a language spoken by an ancient population that used wagons. This population could not have lived much earlier than about six thousand years ago, since we know from archaeological evidence that it was around then that wheels and wagons spread. This date rules out the Anatolian farming expansion into Europe between nine thousand and eight thousand years ago. The obvious candidate for dispersing most of today’s Indo-European languages is thus the Yamnaya, who depended on the technology of wagons and wheels that became widespread around five thousand years ago. […]

While the genetic findings point to a central role for the Yamnaya in spreading Indo-European languages, tipping the scales definitively in favor of some variant of the steppe hypothesis, those findings do not yet resolve the question of the homeland of the original Indo-European languages, the place where these languages were spoken before the Yamnaya so dramatically expanded. Anatolian languages known from four-thousand-year-old tablets recovered from the Hittite Empire and neighboring ancient cultures did not share the full wagon and wheel vocabulary present in all Indo-European languages spoken today. Ancient DNA available from this time in Anatolia shows no evidence of steppe ancestry similar to that in the Yamnaya (although the evidence here is circumstantial as no ancient DNA from the Hittites themselves has yet been published). This suggests to me that the most likely location of the population that first spoke an Indo-European language was south of the Caucasus Mountains, perhaps in present-day Iran or Armenia, because ancient DNA from people who lived there matches what we would expect for a source population both for the Yamnaya and for ancient Anatolians. If this scenario is right, the population sent one branch up into the steppe—mixing with steppe hunter-gatherers in a one-to-one ratio to become the Yamnaya as described earlier—and another to Anatolia to found the ancestors of people there who spoke languages such as Hittite.

To an outsider, it might seem surprising that DNA can have a definitive impact on a debate about language. DNA cannot of course reveal what languages people spoke. But what genetics can do is to establish that migrations occurred. If people moved, it means that cultural contact occurred too—in other words, genetic tracing of migrations makes it possible also to trace potential spreads of culture and language. By tracing possible migration paths and ruling out others, ancient DNA has ended a decades-old stalemate in the controversy regarding the origins of Indo-European languages. The Anatolian hypothesis has lost its best evidence, and the most common version of the steppe hypothesis—which suggests that the ultimate origin of all Indo-European languages including ancient Anatolian languages was in the steppe—has to be modified too. DNA has emerged as central to the new synthesis of genetics, archaeology, and linguistics that is now replacing outdated theories.

A great lesson of the ancient DNA revolution is that its findings almost always provide accounts of human migrations that are very different from preexisting models, showing how little we really knew about human migrations and population formation prior to the invention of this new technology. The vision of Indo-Europeans or “Aryans” as a “pure” group has sparked nationalist sentiments in Europe since the nineteenth century. There were debates about whether the Celts or the Teutons or other groups were the real “Aryans,” and Nazi racism was fueled by this discussion. The genetic data have provided what might seem like uncomfortable support for some of these ideas—suggesting that a single, genetically coherent group was responsible for spreading many Indo-European languages. But the data also reveal that these early discussions were misguided in supposing purity of ancestry. Whether the original Indo-European speakers lived in the Near East or in eastern Europe, the Yamnaya, who were the main group responsible for spreading Indo-European languages across a vast span of the globe, were formed by mixture. The people who practiced the Corded Ware culture were a further mixture, and northwestern Europeans associated with the Bell Beaker culture were yet a further mixture. Ancient DNA has established major migration and mixture between highly divergent populations as a key force shaping human prehistory, and ideologies that seek a return to a mythical purity are flying in the face of hard science.

I’m delighted with the peroration against the idea of purity (which has always been repugnant to me), and pleased that the idiotic reluctance to consider migration theories because the Nazis favored them seems to have faded away (incidentally, does anyone know where the stress goes on the name Kossinna? I’m guessing penultimate, but I’d like to do better than a guess). The book is well written by someone who has been at the center of the discoveries (and explains in the acknowledgments that he was reluctant to write a book because it would take time away from his research), and I am finally able to understand the discussions that the learned Hattics who know about such things have been having in the comment sections. Many thanks to Bill W., who sent me the book — it’s definitely going to feature in my year-end roundup for The Millions!

Comments

  1. Etienne says:

    Interesting. BUT…

    Since, as David Reich himself acknowledges, in his own words, that “the evidence here is circumstantial as no ancient DNA from the Hittites themselves has yet been published” (Incidentally, to my knowledge no genetic studies involving the DNA of *any* Anatolian-speaking group has ever been published), it seems extremely premature (to put it mildly) to conclude that there was no Yamnaya genetic contribution to the gene pool of Anatolian speakers, and even more premature to use this (weak) datum to speculate about an Indo-European homeland South of the Caucasus.

    Mark you, even if subsequent research were to conclusively demonstrate that no Yamnaya genetic contribution to the genetic make-up of Anatolian speakers existed, it most certainly would not follow therefrom that the spread of Anatolian must be due to some kind of “pre-Yamnaya” migration: it could simply be that the spread of Anatolian involved large-scale language shift on a much heavier scale than was the case elsewhere in Eurasia, thereby causing the loss of the original “Yamnaya” genetic component which was associated with the initial spread.

  2. Etienne dumps cold water. But what if things run otherwise? Could even the Euphratic hypothesis tickle at some truth? There were colonization missions from Mesopotamia northward to Caspian shores and beyond. It’s always seemed an odd direction, to be sure. My apologies. This is like sprinkling fairy dust until there’s more evidence.

  3. David Marjanović says:

    mixing with steppe hunter-gatherers in a one-to-one ratio to become the Yamnaya as described earlier

    Actually the people of the Khvalynsk culture, which then split into the Yamnaya/Pit Grave culture (which stayed in place) and the Afanasievo culture (which, amazingly, rumbled east all the way to the Altai without looking left or right).

    the idiotic reluctance to consider migration theories because the Nazis favored them

    Naturally, “pots, not people” begs to be taken to extremes; but it wasn’t downright idiotic. North of the Pyrenees, as I learned from a paper posted right here, the Bell Beaker culture was the result of a massive invasion. South of them, no such thing is visible in the ancient DNA – the pots must have spread there without the people.

    incidentally, does anyone know where the stress goes on the name Kossinna? I’m guessing penultimate, but I’d like to do better than a guess

    I guessed initial, because I guessed the name could be of Czech origin, and my Slavic stress instincts are neoštokavian (antepenultimate except exceptions)… but you’re right, says Wikipedia: “Kossinna was a Germanized Mazur. He was born in Tilsit, East Prussia”. What non-Germanized Mazurs speak is classified as Polish; penultimate it is, then.

    Since, as David Reich himself acknowledges, in his own words, that “the evidence here is circumstantial as no ancient DNA from the Hittites themselves has yet been published” (Incidentally, to my knowledge no genetic studies involving the DNA of *any* Anatolian-speaking group has ever been published)

    BZZZZZT! Outdated. The relevant LH discussion starts with this comment, which contains a link to a paper that confirmed Reich’s hypothesis just two weeks and two days ago.

    Maybe we should reconsider Gamq’relidze & Ivanov.

    Could even the Euphratic hypothesis tickle at some truth?

    Wouldn’t surprise me, as I said in the linked thread.

  4. What is more, there is nothing to rule out a previous spread of Indo-European (Anatolian or not) into Europe before Yamnaya, those languages being lost.

    All discussions of the “origin point” of a language are actually about the point of breakup. We believe that Proto-Austronesian broke up on Taiwan, and we know that Taiwan was settled long before this event, but we do not know if (Pre-)Proto-Austronesian speakers came to Taiwan from the mainland, or if PAN evolved on Taiwan itself.

  5. Naturally, “pots, not people” begs to be taken to extremes; but it wasn’t downright idiotic.

    I’m not calling the idea idiotic but the reluctance to consider anything the Nazis approved of. It’s more praiseworthy than, but just as stupid as, the reluctance to consider anything that puts a spoke in the wheels of one’s nationalistic fantasies. Facts is facts.

  6. marie-lucie says:

    “Pots, not people” seems to suggest trade rather than migration.

  7. Trond Engen says:

    The fun thing about this is that it provokes a lot of new thinking. There are more than one way to spread a language, but if neither pots nor people came across the Caucasus (or the Bosporus) from the Steppe in the right timeslot, it’s becoming less probable (but not impossible) that Anatolian languages came that way at that time. It was already clear that some IE branching would have had to be before Yamnaya, and since Ante-Yamnaya Steppe culture received both pots and people from various sources in the dynamic age of early nomadism (= early long-distance trade), it was also a distinct (but largely unexplored) possibility that Indo-European was brought to the Steppe meltingpot by one of the contributing cultures. I’ve had three such candidates, Cucuteni-Tripolye in the west, Botai in the east, and Maykop in the south. Of these, Cucuteni-Tripolye was ruled out because of the lack of movements from the Balkans into Anatolia. Botai is now ruled out for complete lack of genetic affiliation. But Maykop and the related cultures south of the Caucasus are just getting more interesting.

    If even the Euphratic hypothesis is to be believed there was an IE language with three-genders and Kentum features spoken in Mesopotamia in the second half of the fourth millennium BCE. That would move the dissolution of Non-Anatolian back in time, and by extension the Anatolian/Non-Anatolian split even further.

  8. David Marjanović says:

    and Kentum features

    Uh, “kentum” just means “lack of satem” here.

  9. Trond Engen says:

    True. Not relevant in the contex. I meant something like delaryngealized, but in the clear light of the tropical Norwegian morning sun, that would be too hasty.

  10. E M Forster’s test for people who fancy their racial purity: give the full names of all your great grandparents.

  11. Lars (the original one) says:

    Now you made me look it up…

    Axel Valdemar Mathiesen
    Pouline Mathiesen f. Andersen
    Johannes Johannessen
    Marie Jensine Johannessen f. Jensen
    Jacob Pedersen
    Maren Kirstine Pedersen f. Kristensen Kjær
    Hans Jürgen Heinrich de Wolff
    Gertrud Marie Mariane de Wolff

    (My maternal grandmother’s parents were cousins and had the same surname after a Dutch immigrant to Flensburg three generations further back who ‘improved’ his surname Wulf in passing it on to his sons, among them the H.I.H. de Wolff who my great grandfather was named after. No nobility here).

    Maybe I should carry that list and ask immigration opponents to produce theirs when I tell them they are talking shit.

    The other interpretation is that Danes are an inbred lot.

  12. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    E M Forster’s test for people who fancy their racial purity: give the full names of all your great grandparents

    Not a very demanding test:

    William Cornish-Bowden
    Elizabeth Browning
    Edward Kitson
    Catherine Eales
    Charles Duncan
    Harriette Elizabeth Colcough
    John McMurtry
    Sarah Patton

    All WASPs (assuming Church of Ireland counts as WASP)! However, I wouldn’t claim to “fancy [my] racial purity”.

    I could go back another generation (but not two).

  13. a paper that confirmed Reich’s hypothesis

    The last author of that paper, Eske Willerslev, has been involved in many recent ancient genome studies, 13 are listed for 2018 so far. One from 2016, A genomic history of Aboriginal Australia, briefly discusses aboriginal languages. Others include early horse-herders and horses.

  14. Christian Weisgerber says:

    Stu: Kentum and satem are observable properties of old IE languages, but there is no fundamental split between the two. Some branches developed into kentum, others into satem. It is debatable whether the satem languages form a common subgroup, but the kentum ones certainly don’t.

  15. In other words, it’s not that the difference doesn’t exist, it’s just become a lot less significant. Sort of like East vs. West Germans.

  16. More like the difference between rhotic and non-rhotic accents of English.

  17. Trond Engen says:

    My eight great grandparents:

    Olav Jakobsen Engen
    Anne Elise Albertine Pedersdatter
    Ludvig Johan Andreassen
    Anna Kristine Ingebrigtsdatter
    Nils Høyum
    Anna Johanesdatter Husløs
    Kristian Pedersen
    Lina Larsdatter Rud

    All were born in different parts of rural Norway, and most of them in very modest circumstances. I think it’s the rurality of my ancestors that make them such a homogenous lot. My last foreign-born ancestor was Nils Høyum’s father, an immigrant quarry worker (from rural Sweden). My father’s mother’s side isn’t quite as modest, allowing a couple of priests further back, and those branches eventually lead east and south. My wife’s family is much more mercantile and clerical than mine, and far more branches end up abroad.

    @Christian: It’s been far too long!

    I think mainstream opinion is that some branches may have satemized together (or at least were in contact at the time), but it’s such a trivial development that it’s not diagnostic as a shared innovation. But I’m an off-license peddler of opinion. My sense of “mainstream” may be a little off.

    Piotr: More like the difference between rhotic and non-rhotic accents of English.

    Or that. See above.

    I’m wondering what the recent results will mean for the percieved closeness of Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian (or Greco-Armenian).

  18. I think it’s quite clear that satem is a common development and diagnostic if not of common branching than at least of a common regional development. Centum is diagnostic of nothing.

  19. There was a discussion here a few years ago about the centum words in Bangani and what might or might not be their significance. Has Bangani come up again in the literature since then?

  20. More like the difference between rhotic and non-rhotic accents of English.

    You’re trying to be linguistically relevant, whereas I’m trying to amuse Stu.

  21. Has Bangani come up again in the literature since then?

    As far as I know, nobody has published any fieldwork on Bangani since 1997 (Anvita Abbi’s team), so we can only recycle old data.

  22. J.W. Brewer says:

    I found E.M. Forster’s recommendation somewhat bizarre. Perhaps this is due to a difference in naming patterns in the U.S. as compared to the U.K. of the era in which Forster’s great-grandparents would have been born. I am myself pretty WASPy. Of the eight surnames borne by my great-grandparents (including the maiden names of my great-grandmothers), only one is notably “ethnic-sounding” (two of the remaining seven are ultimately of Dutch origin, but not so aggressively so to appear non-WASPy on their face) and the ethnicity it sounds like is German. But in the U.S. most “American-sounding” names are fatally ambiguous from a racial-purity standpoint, in the sense that black Americans (except for some recent immigrants, and the outliers from once-Francophone Louisiana) have historically drawn from the same basic pool of surnames as WASPs and, if not always from exactly the same stock of given names at least from a stock that overlaps very heavily, especially three or more generations back. Indeed, one of my great-grandfathers had a given name (Leroy, although he more often spelled it Le Roy) which by the mid-20th-century had become a stereotypically black name but apparently was not yet marked in that way when he was born in 1855. Even fancy-schmancy WASPy names of the “Thurston Howell III” variety are also extant in the black community, e.g. Spottswood W. Robinson III (1918-1998), a prominent civil-rights lawyer who later became a federal judge. Probably the only way to have a really unambiguously “white” name in the U.S. is to have a markedly-ethnic one (Seamus O’Shaughnessy, Shlomo Finkelstein, that sort of thing).

  23. Stu Clayton says:

    We are amused, though nonplussed.

  24. You can speak a pure form of a language even though it’s full of historic and pre-historic borrowings, right? The timeframes of the so-called racial purity are probably limited in a similar way. The other factor is homogeneity (substantial similarity between the members of the in-group in comparison with out-groups), meaning that as long as the genetic admixture has spread relatively evenly in the population, this population is perceived as “pure”. In actuality, most European peoples are substantially genetically similar to each other, so it’s too easy to overlook the remnants of genetic heterogeneity / population structure.

  25. David Eddyshaw says:

    Hilaire Belloc used to say that you belonged to “the flower of the bourgeoisie” if you knew the maiden names of all four of your great-grandmothers. He was evidently less refined than EMF. However, the question is here not racial purity but snobbery.

    I am proud to say I fail miserably on both criteria.

  26. You can speak a pure form of a language even though it’s full of historic and pre-historic borrowings, right?

    I don’t understand. What would that mean?

  27. Trond Engen says:

    In Norway, for people my generation or older, just having four great grandmothers with family names is a sure sign of bourgeoisie. None of my eight ancestors above had inherited family names at birth, but they all had farm names or patronymics turned into family names during their lifetime.

  28. David Marjanović says:

    Kentum refers to a phonological merger: palatalized into plain velars. (Not the other way around as in half of West Caucasian.) Satəm refers to two things at once: the purely phonetic shift that turned the palatalized velars into various affricates and then often fricatives, and the merger of labialized into plain velars.

    The kentum merger shows up in Germanic, Italo-Celtic, Greek and Hittite. The satəm merger shows up in Balto-Slavic, Indo-Iranian and conditionally in Albanian; whether it’s conditional in Armenian seems to have been controversial, and I don’t know any details. Both are found in Tocharian, where all nine velar consonants collapsed into one. The satəm shift is found in Balto-Slavic, Indo-Iranian, Albanian, Armenian, the Daco-Thraco-Illyrian mess and the Luwian branch of Anatolian.

    Germanic and Italo-Celtic could be sister-groups, though I haven’t finished reading the apparently latest paper on Dybo’s law (which apparently fails to cite the second-latest). Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian share the ruKi rule (…except it seems not to have operated before *u in Nuristani…) and Weise’s law (depalatalization of velars before *n *l *r in the same syllable), both of which must have operated before the satəm shift.

    I wonder if the kentum merger is a substrate effect, while the satəm shift is a natural homegrown development devoid of external influence. But that’s most likely impossible to test.

  29. Even a seemingly quintessentially ethnic name is no guarantee of racial “purity” in America. I had my house inspected for hail damage (after a storm of genuine golf-ball-sized stones, which was just amazing to watch) by a man named Sligh McGloutherin, which is about the most Scoth-Irish name I could ever possibly dream up. However, Mr. McGloutherin was also manifestly of a mixed racial background. He had a clear mix of African-American and northern European features, such as fairly dark skin but even darer freckles.

    Incidentally, the only other place were I have encountered Sligh as a name was in Norby the Mixed-Up Robot by Isaac Asimov and his wife Janet. Most of the names in the Norby books were much more ordinary than the made-up ones used in Asimov’s novels of the more distant future. (I was personally always impressed with Hober Mallow, which seems, from a phonotactic viewpoint, like a perfectly reasonable English name; it just isn’t one.) However, there were plenty of uncommon names mixed in with the Fargo Wells types. A man assigned to follow the main characters in the first book is named “Sligh”; Fargo, the protagonist’s brother, jokes about him being a “sly spy,” prompting Sligh to spell his name. However, as a name Sligh is actually the same word as sly!

  30. Greg Pandatshang says:

    I suppose if we assume traditional *ḱ *k *kʷ were primordially *k *q *kʷ, then kentumisation is simply a shift *q > *k which occurred in all Indo-European branches, with no innovations unique to the kentum languages.

  31. David Marjanović says:

    But why would we do that? Why would we assume that [k] palatalized in all environments (except for Weise’s law)? Why would we assume that [q] > [k] happened several times, while [q] > [χ] (i.e. a merger with *h₂!) never happened*, and [q] > [ʔ] (i.e. disappearance and/or a merger with *h₁) never happened either? And why are there roots beginning with *ke- and not just *ka-?

    * Evidence erased by Grimm’s law, assuming that [q] held on for a long time after the disappearance of *h₂.

  32. J.W. Brewer says:

    Scotch-Irish is un-ethnic and de-facto WASPy enough for my purposes, because enough of them came to the U.S. early enough to a) have faded into oblivion as an ethnic-group-as-such (these are the same people who are disproportionately likely to just answer “American” to the census question about ancestry) and b) have been a material portion of the antebellum slaveowning class, which is the most relevant factor for getting into the black American surname pool. Right now it appears that the most prominent American surnamed McGlothern (I assume a spelling variation of the same name) is a black high school football player in Texas who is apparently an excellent cornerback and being heavily recruited by various leading colleges.

    Indeed, modern Ulster retains the tendency for grown men in public office formally named William to be universally known as Willie, which is less common for whites in the U.S. If you moved the prominent Loyalist MP Willie McCrea to the Chicago board of alderman, everyone would assume he was black.

  33. Trond Engen says:

    Y: There was a discussion here a few years ago

    Thanks. Also on Euphratic. What my warm and tired brain was trying to recreate yesterday night was essentially my comment of December 12, 2015, at 3:07 pm. Calling it “Kentum” was grasping for Whittaker’s contention that Euphratic shares features with northwestern IE. Mentioning “delaryngealized” was echoing the suggestion that it belongs somewhere near the base of the Non-Anatolian branch. Except that being near the base wouldn’t mean delaryngealized.

    David M.: The kentum merger shows up in Germanic, Italo-Celtic, Greek and Hittite. The satəm merger shows up in Balto-Slavic, Indo-Iranian and conditionally in Albanian; whether it’s conditional in Armenian seems to have been controversial, and I don’t know any details. Both are found in Tocharian, where all nine velar consonants collapsed into one. The satəm shift is found in Balto-Slavic, Indo-Iranian, Albanian, Armenian, the Daco-Thraco-Illyrian mess and the Luwian branch of Anatolian.

    A development from palatal stops to retroflex (or thereabouts) sbillants is quite ordinary. Some version of that has happened independently in many modern European languages. But the RUKI rule and Weise’s law are not.

    Greek is in its own fettle of quiche when it comes to consonants.

    Greg P.: I suppose if we assume traditional *ḱ *k *kʷ were primordially *k *q *kʷ, then kentumisation is simply a shift *q > *k which occurred in all Indo-European branches, with no innovations unique to the kentum languages.

    Depending on viewpoint. The kentum merger of *k’ and *k would arguable be a bigger innovation than the purely phonetic satem chain shift .(Satemization would have had to take place no later than *q > *k.)

  34. You can speak a pure form of a language even though it’s full of historic and pre-historic borrowings, right?

    I don’t understand. What would that mean?
    Isn’t linguistic purism a nearly universal thing in every culture? Like with English, it’s typically assumed that the post-Saxon borrowing “contaminated” English, while earlier borrowing didn’t affect its purity? “Too old” admixtures are tolerated, perhaps also because the sources of these admixtures are no longer around, and there are no fears of continued change of the contemporary language. Say, the existential threat to the “purity” of Finnish language is English, and of course the purists there aren’t concerned by a vast layer of older / pre-historic Germanic influences.

    By the same token, the great mixing of peoples 5 or 6 millennia ago may be just far too ancient to qualify as an “impurity” to those who are vainly concerned, yes, with some lists of great grandparents

  35. Greg Pandatshang says:

    while [q] > [χ] (i.e. a merger with *h₂!) never happened*, and [q] > [ʔ] (i.e. disappearance and/or a merger with *h₁) never happened either?

    That is a very reasonable question which I had never thought about before. I would tend to imagine that [q] > [k] happened early on when areal effects were still possible across all dialects, which makes it a single development, not one occurring independently in multiple places. Some fronted [k] at the same time as a chain shift, which led to the Satəm shift, but most did not.

    Carrasquer Vidal (a supporter of the velar-uvular-labiovelar model) argues for an underlying /i/ (distinct from the surface *i that appears in the zero grade) that merges with most other vowels into *e in almost all environments, but remains distinct after the uvular stop; something along the lines of /Ci/ > /Cə/ > /Ce/ (where C is any consonant but [q] or laryngeals) and /Ca/ > /Cə/ > /Ce/, but /qi/ > /kə/ > /ke/ and /qa/ > /ka/ > /ka/. I don’t recall him saying so specifically, but presumably he thinks that some instances of reconstructed *h₁e are really *h₂i > *h₂ə > *h₂e. In my mind, it seems simpler just to assume that the [q] > [k] shift occurred around the same time that vowel coloring became phonemic, with the result that it operates sporadically.

  36. Trond Engen says:

    Me: I think it’s the rurality of my ancestors that make them such a homogenous lot.

    Y: By the same token, the great mixing of peoples 5 or 6 millennia ago may be just far too ancient to qualify as an “impurity” to those who are vainly concerned, yes, with some lists of great grandparents

    E.M. Forster’s test might work for bourgeois bigotry, but working, rural people had eight grandparents from a couple of neighbouring parishes. For them nationalism (or nativism) could be a social movement for les damnés de la terre. Urban elites, copied by local elites, had foreign names and used fancy words. It was easy to think that uneven access to the outside world had given them an advantage as harbingers of change. And in a world of few choices and hardly visible development for the better every change was a threat to an already precarious state.

  37. Case in point. A storied ancient Nordic population, the Icelanders. Published today. They are fairly genetically distant from their Scandinavian ancestors due to random drift effects in a smallish population. They were also composed of nearly equal parts of Celtic and Norse ancestry, although a sliver of the former got lost over time due to social stratification favoring the progeny of the Norse.
    science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6392/1028
    So, the first step is uneven mixing, resulting in deep and lasting racial inequality, but gradually fading, and a millennium later, perceived as a pure homogenous state.

  38. marie-lucie says:

    I am not very closely acquainted with PIE, but I don’t remember seeing /q/ among its inventory. Of course I could be wrong, but where can I read about the evidence for it?

  39. Greg Pandatshang says:

    It’s appealing on typological grounds because of the much greater frequency of *ḱ vs. *k. The idea pops up every now and then. Not sure I’ve ever seen a detailed argument for it. Kümmel simply lists “velar” (= uvular) with no explanation: https://www.academia.edu/1538887/Typology_and_reconstruction_The_consonants_and_vowels_of_Proto-Indo-European

  40. David Marjanović says:

    In my mind, it seems simpler just to assume that the [q] > [k] shift occurred around the same time that vowel coloring became phonemic, with the result that it operates sporadically.

    I don’t understand what you mean: do you think [q] > [k] only happened during the individual losses of *h₂?

    It’s appealing on typological grounds because of the much greater frequency of *ḱ vs. *k.

    That’s pretty much the only argument for it, and strikes me as an error, because in the West Caucasian *kʲ *k *kʷ situation, *kʲ (like *kʷ) is so much more common than *k that two of the three branches have merged *k into *kʲ rather than the other way around.

    An explanation for this imbalance is easy to invent: start with a boring old /a e i o u/ system, then blame all frontness and rounding on the consonants (leaving you with /a ə/ and a tripled consonant system), then simplify the enormous consonant system and – in IE but not West Caucasian – shift [a ə] to [e o] one way or another.

    What I find a particularly strong counterargument is that the uvular interpretation of course extends to the voiced and aspirated consonants. If you thought /kʲ k kʷ/ is rare, well, /ɢ/ is rare, too, and /ɢʱ/ seems to be completely unattested. We’d expect lots of IE branches to have merged *g and especially *gʰ wholesale into *h₃ by a shift to [ʁ], yet that never happened.

    If you combine it with the classical glottalic hypothesis, so that *g comes out as [qʼ], we’d expect lots of shifts to [ʔ], (i.e. disappearance and/or a merger with *h₁). No known cases. If you use the updated glottalic hypothesis instead, *g becomes the implosive [ʛ], which seems to be attested in about two languages worldwide, though I don’t know what it would likely change into.

  41. Trond Engen says:

    X: Case in point. A storied ancient Nordic population, the Icelanders. Published today. They are fairly genetically distant from their Scandinavian ancestors due to random drift effects in a smallish population. They were also composed of nearly equal parts of Celtic and Norse ancestry, although a sliver of the former got lost over time due to social stratification favoring the progeny of the Norse.

    I haven’t looked at the whole text, but this looks very useful as a comparison for effects of genetic drift elsewhere. Icelanders are a small population and a millennium is a long time, but it’s actually a large population and a short time compared with some of the Neolithic/Bronze Age results we’ve become used to. I also wonder if the non-random component of the genetic drift can be estimated and maybe say something about social stratification of societies.

  42. If you combine it with the classical glottalic hypothesis, so that *g comes out as [qʼ], we’d expect lots of shifts to [ʔ]

    Do we? I don’t think qʼ > ʔ is especially common, and even q > ʔ seems to happen mainly in smallish consonant systems where it has no “support” from other uvular obstruents.

    (Also there’s already the whole alleged “Kortlandt Effect” between *d and *h₁. Maybe equivalents with *g just haven’t been sought out well enough yet.)

    A third long-running approach of course is that PIE proper only had the *ḱ and *kʷ series, and that all supposed instances of the *k series either come from the two “main” series by neutralizations (Weise’s Law, boukolos rule, etc.), or are post-PIE areal vocabulary. I think this is likely to be on to something… but I’m less sure if it can be really the full story.

  43. January First-of-May says:

    I am proud to say I fail miserably on both criteria.

    Same (if probably with less pride), though it’s very possible that I will eventually find out. (At the moment, it’s 2/4 on the maiden names, and either 1/8 or 5/8 on the full names depending on whether patronymics are included; a bit more might be added if I could consult my misplaced written-down genealogical tree attempts, but even then it wouldn’t be a full mark on either.)

    However, as 50% Russian and 50% (Ashkenazi) Jewish, while perhaps technically racially pure (we don’t really get that many non-whites around in Europe, anyway), I’m probably the walking antithesis to ethnic purity (especially the National Socialist version thereof).

  44. David Marjanović says:

    Do we? I don’t think qʼ > ʔ is especially common, and even q > ʔ seems to happen mainly in smallish consonant systems where it has no “support” from other uvular obstruents.

    [q] > [ʔ] has happened a lot in Arabic/Maltese, I think more than once, though I don’t actually know. [qʼ] is generally pretty stable, but when ejectives are lost as a category, [ʔ] is at least an obvious option… one thing it has changed into in some Caucasian languages (which retain ejectives as a category) is the epiglottal stop.

    (Also there’s already the whole alleged “Kortlandt Effect” between *d and *h₁. Maybe equivalents with *g just haven’t been sought out well enough yet.)

    I was actually going to bring that up to say that it involves *d and not *g… but yes, nobody seems to have checked if there are any cases involving *g. Nobody outside Leiden seems to have checked for *d either, right?

    I’m probably the walking antithesis to ethnic purity

    I have you beat on that one.

  45. marie-lucie says:

    David M: start with a boring old /a e i o u/ system, then blame all frontness and rounding on the consonants (leaving you with /a ə/ and a tripled consonant system), then simplify the enormous consonant system and – in IE but not West Caucasian – shift [a ə] to [e o] one way or another.

    In my own reconstruction of an Amerindian family (where q is part of the inventory at any stage) I need almost all these steps: Start with “/a ə/ and a tripled consonant system” then “blame all frontness and rounding on the consonants” then “shift /ə/ to /e o/” depending on the consonants (and go from there).

  46. Trond Engen, if the Yamnaya expansion circa 3000-2800bce that wiped out the Tripolye-Cucuteni culture caused a refugee movement into the Balkans, and the refugees also spoke their own PIE, that gives them eight centuries to develop southward and enter Anatolia from the west, introducing Anatolian languages absent any Yamnaya genetic markers. I understand that you’re telling us there’s no evidence of any cultural infusion west-to-Anatolia during these centuries. If the Phrygians entered Anatolia from the Thracian area and spoke a language very close to Greek, that points to a west-to-east tradition, but perhaps I’ve got the Phrygians wrong as well. All those beautiful Colin McEvedy maps in my head — do I have to throw them entirely away?

  47. David Marjanović says:

    that gives them eight centuries to develop southward and enter Anatolia from the west, introducing Anatolian languages absent any Yamnaya genetic markers.

    Then we’d expect more Western Hunter-Gatherer and much less Caucasian Hunter-Gatherer ancestry in the Hittite genomes that were recently sequenced than was actually found.

    If the Phrygians entered Anatolia from the Thracian area and spoke a language very close to Greek, that points to a west-to-east tradition

    Yes, but the Phrygians arrived only after the collapse of Hittite power.

  48. SFReader says:

    I thought Phrygians spoke a language which later developed into Armenian.

    At least that was what Dyakonov told his readers in 1970s.

    Is that theory disproved now?

  49. Greg Pandatshang says:

    I don’t understand what you mean: do you think [q] > [k] only happened during the individual losses of *h₂?

    No, in this scenario, *h₂ would have to continue for a while after [q] > [k] if it colored vowels consistently. I’m suggesting that the vowel coloring (whatever its exact phonetic nature) would have been perceived as a subphonemic allophone until around the same time that [q] > [k] occurred. Subsequently, the colored vowel was reanalyzed as a distinct phoneme, with the result that the coloring persisted after the laryngeals later became silent. If [q] > [k] (assuming that uvulars color and velars don’t) occurred before this reanalysis, then we’d expect no coloring from that consonant. If [q] > [k] occurred after the reanalysis, we’d expect consistent coloring. If it occurred at the same time, we might expect an inconsistent result.

  50. David Marjanović says:

    Is that theory disproved now?

    AFAIK it remains a serious contender, but Piotr has said different things in different years about Armenian if I understood him right…

  51. Greg Pandatshang says:

    It’s not clear to me that anybody beyond the far fringes of ideologues would care about racial purity on a scale beyond what we’re talking about here. Before the last few decades, the European genetic mix had been fairly stable since the Yamnaya-like invasion 5,000 years ago. That seems like more than enough purity to me. When I say “far fringes of ideologues”, I’m thinking of the people who want there to be an unchanging, timeless racial essence, such that 5,000 years seems like chump change in comparison. This is, incidentally, the same mindset that justifies anti-Semitism in terms of a unchanging “Semitic” racial essence. In this framework, if Jews become more like “us” such as through intermarriage, that’s a very bad thing, because their pith remains Semitic, and they’ve merely appropriated some of our genes and culture with which to disguise themselves. That said, I’m doubtful that anybody is really anti-Semitic because of ideas like these; rather than the ideas being a rationalisation for an anti-Semitism which was there beforehand.

  52. Trond Engen says:

    If I understand it correctly, there’s evidence for a migration across the Bosporus that could be the Phrygians. What there is no evidence for (for now, anyway) is a migration from the Balkans of (I.E.) Anatolians, but there’s genetic evidence of east-to-west migrations in Anatolia, carrying genes associated with Caucasus and the Zagros mountains.

    The two Hittites included in the latest study is a meagre base for definitive conclusions, but they do point in the same direction.

  53. If Greeks of the proto-heroic era preceded the Phrygians on a path down an interior Balkan route from the north, encountering Pelasgians in mainland Greece, and Anatolian Carians in the islands, possibly Anatolian-speaking Cretans, daunted by differently languaged Tyrrhenians in Lesbos and a Tyrrhenian homeland in Arzawa — well, here you have the situation. Anatolians are established so far to the west that they almost must have come from the same counter-clockwise direction around the Black Sea, not wiping all else out, but with their own heroic Hittite wave in front pushing eastward and first to commingle, least in racial and genetic purity because that’s the way with front waves. The Hittites were so magnificently uninterested in purity that they adopted gods from the Hurrian pantheon. This is the movie that plays in my head, and it fails in the face of genetic testing. Does it fail completely? Are there genetic tests of Lydians and Lycians and Carians that would point to one direction or the other? Switching from genes to language, don’t the Luwians, west of the Hittites, speak a purer “Anatolian” with less borrowing from non-IE languages? I don’t ask as if I know the answer. I’ve always assumed yes, but that’s because I’ve made assumptions that might be false. I’d love to read more deeply, if there’s anything published in English.

  54. Nobody outside Leiden seems to have checked for *d either, right?

    The latest review I have seen is from Romain Garnier of Wékwos fame, but I don’t recall how many truly new cases he scouts out.

  55. Trond Engen says:

    @Phil Jennings: That’s more or less the movie I have had playing in my head since Mallory & Adams. Genetics speaks against it for now, but for all I know it could be resurrected by more archaeology and fine-masked genetic mapping. Few ancient Anatolian genomes have been mapped, and I don’t think we can be sure about their ethnic affiliation. The two Hittites could be conquered locals or mercenaries. The handful of Luwians could be of the local substrate.

  56. Ha, I just gotten to the part where Reich destroys that ignoramus Nicholas Wade, who I’ve often had occasion to take to task over the years (“ill-informed,” “spavined.” “muddled“). The section begins on p. 260 and ends near the bottom of p. 262 (“Wade is suggesting that popular racist ideas about the differences that exist among populations have something to them”).

  57. Christopher S says:

    Wade gets carried away sometimes, but some of the speculative “racist” theories he quotes will probably end up having some merit, which even Reich himself has admitted elsewhere. The challenge is maintaining the appropriate level of skepticism and caution (which the speculators often lack), while keeping an open mind about average genetic differences among human populations (which the equity-obsessed left has failed at, hence the need for the wake-up calls by Reich, Sam Harris, and others).

    “It is likely that a few stereotypes [about average genetic differences among human populations] will be validated by findings from genetics.” – David Reich, How to Talk About ‘Race’ and Genetics

  58. There’s a big difference between racist theories and genetic differences among human populations; he goes into considerable detail about all of this, with much more patience for ideologues of all stripes than I would be able to muster.

  59. David Marjanović says:

    Sam Harris? A wake-up call from the guy who’s so obsessed with his fear of Islam that he wants airports to profile against people who look like they could be Muslims?

  60. Yeah, don’t put Reich in that company.

  61. “It is likely that a few stereotypes [about average genetic differences among human populations] will be validated by findings from genetics.”

    Indeed. And it is likely that a stopped clock, back when such things still existed, will be correct twice a day. Which technically makes it more accurate than one that consistently loses or gains time and is only reset every day or longer. As Vajda says, a few of Greenberg’s etymologies linking Yeniseian with Na-Dene are correct as well (he is too polite to say “only a few”).

  62. As Vajda says, a few of Greenberg’s etymologies linking Yeniseian with Na-Dene are correct as well (he is too polite to say “only a few”)

    25% of Ruhlen’s etymologies, IIRC.

    Still a lot more than the racial stereotypes that will be likely validated genetically. The British gene for dry humor and the Swiss gene for boringness are still very far from being identified.

  63. Yes, but only 8 (IIRC) in absolute terms. See Zompist’s list of Quechua-Chinese resemblances for just how many resemblances sheer coincidence can produce.

  64. David Marjanović says:

    These are slightly less rigorous than the Greenberg/Ruhlen method in that they rely too much on spellings… anyway, the URL lacks an L at the end.

  65. I have fixed the URL with Hattic powers.

  66. Reminder that most of Zompist’s examples are not strictly speaking demonstrated to be chance resemblances. A priori it is entirely possible that Quechua and Chinese are related, and that a few words from their common ancestor have managed to survive in both in a recognizeable shape.

    It is still possible to demonstrate something to be a chance resemblance, though. The method would be similar to how you show that French feu and German Feuer are not cognate — we know that the first can be traced back to Latin focus, which now shows a /k/ that has no counterpart in German, a back vowel rather than a front rounded one, and the meaning ‘hearth’ instead of ‘fire’. So the development of /ø/ and the meaning ‘fire’ is at most convergent, not a marker of common origin from a Proto-Franco-German #føə ‘fire’.

    I would expect that once we look at what is known of Quechuan and Mandarin historical phonology and historical semantics, many of the similarities will indeed evaporate. However, to positively demonstrate something as a chance resemblance, this step is obligatory. Just listing similarities and then going “but doesn’t that look improbable” is not sufficient. (It’s argument from incredulity, basically.)

    (This point has an analogue also for the genetics debate, which I will leave as an exercise for readers to assemble.)

  67. January First-of-May says:

    …Now I wonder if there’s a pair of actual cognates somewhere that look very similar but actually just happened to converge from much more different (but still cognate) forms.

    Like… mild example I just found on Wiktionary: West Frisian and Slovene trije both mean “three”, but actually the former goes back to Proto-Germanic *þrīz, and the latter to Proto-Slavic *trьje, which are no longer quite as similar. There’s probably a better example somewhere.

  68. Trond Engen says:

    French eau “water” and Scandinavian å “(small) river”.

  69. marie-lucie says:

    Trond: at the Northern tip of France (across from England, just next to Belgium) there is a small river called the Aa flowing into the sea.. According to Wikipedia.fr the word is of Germanic origin and related to words like awa, ewe, all of which are related to latin aqua. If so, then your Scandinavian word must belong to the same set as eau!

  70. Trond Engen says:

    Yrs. Same origin. Near identical contemporary pronunciation. Very different paths.

  71. Trond Engen says:

    I might add that the Normand river Aa reflects an older stage, ON a: (> ModSc. [O], ModIc./WNo.dial. [ao]).

  72. marie-lucie says:

    The location of the river is quite far from Normandy. But of course Normandy is the territory that was ceded to Scandinavians but it does not mean that some of them had not roamed or even settled all along the coast before the peace settlement. Among the cities close to the river is Dunkerque (Dunkirk), which I suppose is Scandinavian?

  73. Rodger C says:

    I think names in that corner of France are Dutch. The area is shown on maps as Dutch-speaking, which it may no longer be, France being France.

  74. SFReader says:

    Actually they are Frankish.

    Franks, you see, spoke a language which was the direct ancestor of Dutch.

    Franks in France assimilated and became French.

    Those who didn’t, became Dutch.

  75. Names like Dunkirk are Flemish; they are in a part of France that historically (into the 20th century) was Flemish-speaking. I don’t know how alive the Flemish language is there today. Whether it’s okay to call Flemish “Dutch”, better discuss that with the Flemish.

  76. David Marjanović says:

    They’re increasingly OK with it.

  77. Trond Engen says:

    French Wikipedia has a nice little article on the rivers Aa.

    It’s only in Not Too Western Scandinavian it’s pronounced as French. It’s only in English it’s written as French.

  78. Trond Engen says:

    The North Germanic and Western West Germanic forms look fairly regular, although the variety of vowel outcomes in Dutch is beyond me. As I’ve undoubtedly mentioned to boredom before, some Northern Norwegian dialects have åga in the definite in hydronyms. I have no other explanation for that than archaism. Low Saxon Au(e) may be another archaism. High German Ach looks more like a borrowing from Latin.

    This reminds me that I’ve been intrigued by the Scottish river Ewe. It doesn’t look Gaelic, but it doesn’t look Old Norse either. (But on the other hand, that English spelling could represent almost anything Gaelic.)

  79. David Marjanović says:

    More cognates of eau in river names are in the German Wikipedia. Interestingly, the article says some are Celtic; Celtic has elsewhere been said not to have a cognate unless that one Celtiberian inscription really means “through water” by tarakuai.

    The much shorter English article repeats the claim about Celtic, but is also full of bad historical linguistics that I’m too tired to fix now.

  80. Trond Engen says:

    Yes. I have a comment in moderation where I say that High German Ache looks like a borrowing from Latin. I should have thought of checking German Wikipedia.

  81. David Marjanović says:

    That’s actually what I thought – because I had read it somewhere long ago – before I looked it up right now. However, as m-l said, there don’t seem to be any cases of aqua being used in river names. The distribution in Upper German fits the persistence of Germanic *x as opposed to its loss in the more northern Aa forms.

  82. I have a comment in moderation

    Out now. Good you mentioned it; I’m watching Argentina-Iceland and am a bit distracted.

  83. Trond Engen says:

    No problem. So am I. Though I suspect we root for different teams.

  84. Well, congratulations, Iceland deserved that tie. I just hope Argentina wakes up before their next game.

  85. SFReader says:

    That Icelandic goalkeeper has unhumanly long hands

  86. He’ll never have to buy a drink again in Iceland. Or maybe anything else.

  87. David Marjanović says:

    Unlike that Moroccan player who scored the own goal yesterday. :-S

    I retroactively put a comment into moderation by adding a link. It seems to have disappeared?

  88. Trond Engen says:

    I don’t know. It’s difficult to be that sort of hero at a place where everybody knows somebody on the team. “Yeah, that was a good save, but that garage needs painting and he hasn’t called his aunt for six months.”

  89. Trond Engen says:

    I retroactively put a comment into moderation by adding a link. It seems to have disappeared?

    That’s how I often end up in moderation too. The comments usually stay visible, but the one about the different Germanic forms just diappeared. I didn’t think much about it, but it’s unusual. A change in the software?

  90. I have liberated the comment.

  91. Trond Engen says:

    David M.: Unlike that Moroccan player who scored the own goal yesterday. :-S

    A dangerous game

  92. David Marjanović says:

    Thanks.

    A change in the software?

    Yes, but long ago; it’s as old as the editing time window, I think.

    A dangerous game

    Ah, that’s the one. May he stay the only one.

  93. Trond Engen says:

    May he stay the only one.

    Indeed. And may no country be like Colombia of the eighties and nineties.

    Looking back I wonder how much the murder of Andrés Escobar may have contributed to the demise of the drug cartels.

  94. David Marjanović says:

    As in “this time they’ve gone too far”?

    But then, one of the Wikipedia articles says he probably wouldn’t have been murdered if Pablo Escobar (no relation) had still been alive, so maybe the point of no return for the drug cartels came first.

  95. Trond Engen says:

    Or as in losing the “at least they get the trains to run on time”* sympathy.

    *) That’s a metaphor.

  96. David Marjanović says:

    Fun fact: the trains are running on time right now in Italy (says Der Spiegel), but not in Germany at all.

  97. SFReader says:

    Since it’s somehow got diverted into official LH World Cup thread, my congratulations to Mexico and funny complaint from German newspaper:

    Problem Nummer eins: In Russland sprechen alle Russisch. Pro­blem Nummer zwei: Man glaubt es kaum, aber die Russen schreiben auch noch Russisch. Und Problem Nummer drei: Sie sprechen kein Englisch. Und sie schreiben auch kein Englisch.

  98. Yes, my congratulations to Mexico as well — great game! (And that is indeed a funny complaint.)

  99. Funny in the German sense, that is, elephantine.

  100. Is schoder German?

    “The ribbon of solid gold is divided into 170 or 180 pieces, each about an inch square. These are put into a cutch made of French paper four inches square. That is beaten until we get the gold to the edges. It is handled with pincers at that time. It is beat half an hour. The pieces are then piled twenty on top of each other. They are then cut in four and doubled over, making 720. They are then put in a ‘schoder,’ or finer mold cut down. We fill the schoder with those leaves in the middle, and beat it out to the edges. We beat it about two hours, until we draw about ten pennyweights off the schoder.”

  101. SFReader says:

    It’s misspelling of English word shoder from verb

    shoad

    Etymology
    From Middle English shode, schode, from Old English *(ġe)scād, ġescēad (“separation, distinction, discretion, understanding, argument, reason, reckoning, account, statement, accuracy, art, manner, method”), from Proto-Germanic *skaidą (“separation, distinction”), from Proto-Indo-European *skÁit-, *skÁi- (“to cut, divide, separate”). Related to Old English scādan (“to separate, divide, part, make a line of separation between”). More at shed.

    Noun
    shoad (plural shoads)

    Separation; distinction.
    A chasm or ravine.
    A line of parting of the hair of the head; a part (in the hair); the top of the head.
    (mining) Loose fragments (often of metal ore) mixed with earth.
    Verb
    shoad (third-person singular simple present shoads, present participle shoading, simple past and past participle shoaded)

    (mining) To seek for a vein or mineral deposit by following a shode, or tracing them to whence they derived.

  102. Thanx!

  103. Trond Engen says:

    Eng. shoad = German Scheiden, surely. In German-derived Norwegian mining terminology the Ertzscheider was the specialist separating the ore.

  104. Since this is the official LH World Cup thread: Sublime Goal, Philosophical Narrator: World Cup Broadcaster Andrés Cantor Predicts the Future.

    Ronaldo had produced a feast for the senses. And there was an added element for those of us watching on Telemundo, the Spanish-language channel. The broadcaster Andrés Cantor narrated it in a way I had never heard, at least not with such consistency: In the first half of this sequence, he switched to the future tense.

    Unlike in literature, where stories are usually delivered in the past tense, a soccer game is normally chronicled in the present, and, needless to say, in real time. Ronaldo is so well known and so accomplished that fans around the world know his every move. Cantor, who is Argentine, automatically—and, it seems to me, unconsciously — switched tenses. Ronaldo was getting ready. He positioned himself in front of the ball. Then Cantor said: Ronaldo will find a sweet spot on the field, he will take three steps back from the ball and one step to the left, he will inhale deeply as he looks to the left, then to the referee, and he will score his third goal of the match.

    In other words, he was prophesying Ronaldo’s actions, step by step. As he was telling what was about to happen, Ronaldo, an instant later, did exactly that.

  105. Impressive. Now, if Cantor only were able to do that before the match…. 😉

  106. I remember that in 1986, at the height of my passion for the Mets (gloriously rewarded at the end of the season!), I watched or listened to virtually every game they played, and I got to the point that I could see Darryl Strawberry at the plate and say “He’s going to get a hit now” and he would.

  107. Trond Engen says:

    For a long time in my youth I used to be able to feel if a penalty shot would succeed or not. I don’t think that’s unusual. Friends told of the same thing, and there are subtle clues in the attitude and behaviour of both players, their teammates, the referee and the audience. The point is that I’ve lost it. I don’t know if I’ve become less sensitive or if football has changed.

  108. Alas, we’ll never know if the Babe really called his home run or not.

    As for the effects mentioned above, they have to do at least in part with confirmation bias, otherwise known as “remembering the hits and forgetting the misses”.

  109. Trond Engen says:

    confirmation bias, otherwise known as “remembering the hits and forgetting the misses”.

    I’m of course aware of that, and I kept some sort of record at the time. But there are other forms of confirmation bias that I tried to handle, but maybe not successfully. First, I didn’t always call a judgment. In situations of doubt, I may have switched the call post facto. Similarly, in some cases I changed my call right before the shot, and I may have judged my own decision based on the outcome.

  110. Just a warning that comments in moderation will not be freed until halftime, and then only if Argentina is doing well enough that I can focus on other things.

  111. In fairness, the next line from the Abendblatt article is: »Doch das größte Problem von allen: Ich spreche kein Russisch.« It’s entirely clear that problem is with him, and the rest of the article is very positive about the Russians.

    I drew Saudi Arabia in the local sweepstakes, and am full of optimism given that they only lost 1-0 to Uruguay! I may yet manage the surprisingly-less-terrible-than-expected consolation prize.

  112. If Argentina is doing well
    80 minutes into the match, and I’m afraid pending comments are in for a long mourning period…

  113. I am not a happy camper, but I’m not giving up on Argentina until they get on the plane home. If they can manage to beat Nigeria, they’ve got a chance in this weird group.

  114. Trond Engen says:

    You have to root for Nigeria against Iceland tomorrow. If Iceland beats Nigeria, both Croatia and Iceland will advance with a draw, so they’ll rest their top players and play a boring 0:0 draw, as is the custom on such occasions. With a draw tomorrow, Croatia will win the group even if they lose to Iceland, so they’ll rest all their players and lose to Iceland.

  115. I am not a happy camper, but I’m not giving up on Argentina until they get on the plane home.

    Well, they’re heading for the plane. I’d feel worse about the loss if Mbappé hadn’t been involved. Maybe Argentina can offer him citizenship before the next Cup.

  116. But in the U.S. most “American-sounding” names are fatally ambiguous from a racial-purity standpoint, in the sense that black Americans (except for some recent immigrants, and the outliers from once-Francophone Louisiana) have historically drawn from the same basic pool of surnames as WASPs and, if not always from exactly the same stock of given names at least from a stock that overlaps very heavily, especially three or more generations back. Indeed, one of my great-grandfathers had a given name (Leroy, although he more often spelled it Le Roy) which by the mid-20th-century had become a stereotypically black name but apparently was not yet marked in that way when he was born in 1855.

    As an English-speaking European, the names that look most estadounidense to me are a very English-speaking first name combined with a German surname; even better if the German surname reflects regional German pronunciation of a hundred and fifty years ago. Someone with this name has about the highest pre-test probability of having US citizenship that I can imagine for a white person. A Canadian of Mennonite background would likely have shied away from ‘Hank’! US blacks are subjectively much rarer than US whites in this part of the world, so guessing about the background of typically-black names doesn’t come up much.

  117. marie-lucie says:

    David E: Hilaire Belloc used to say that you belonged to “the flower of the bourgeoisie” if you knew the maiden names of all four of your great-grandmothers.

    Like you, I am proud to say that I fail this criterion, as I only know for sure the maiden names of two of my great-grandmothers, both on my father’s side. This knowledge is made easier by the fact that those two were aunt and niece, although their maiden names were different. They were not at all members of the bourgeoisie, let alone its “flower”, as they worked most of their lives in the laundry business started by their respective mother and grandmother. (The lives of laundry workers at the time is described in detail in Emile Zola’s L’Assommoir). On my mother’s side, there are records in my family but I don’t remember the names. They were of largely peasant or artisan background in a poor, mountainous region of Southern France.

  118. For a while I was working in the registrar’s office at the City College of NY, later to become my alma almost-mater. I very quickly noted that essentially everyone with a WASPy name like John Smith was African American, whereas white students almost always had “ethnic” (non-WASP) names.

  119. I very quickly noted that essentially everyone with a WASPy name like John Smith was African American

    Which has been proposed as the reason why white American voters, according to polls, would rather vote for a candidate with a Scandinavian surname than a British one.

    I grew up in West Virginia. The first time I told a Northeasterner (a fellow undergraduate) my name, she looked surprised and puzzled and said quietly, “Oh–that’s–British.”

  120. J.W. Brewer says:

    Re John Cowan’s anecdote, the demographics of the NYC area in general and the CCNY student body in particular do not closely resemble those of the US population as a whole, so intuitions developed and/or patterns observed in that context are not going to scale up accurately. Somewhat amusingly, *another* of my great-grandfathers who (unlike Leroy mentioned way upthread) attended CCNY (class of 1893, I think?) was pretty echt-WASP on his mother’s side and Scottish (so close enough …) on his father’s side, but had a name that in hindsight sounds a bit “ethnic,” both because he had another one of those first names that became “marked” a generation or two after his birth circa 1870 (in his case Sidney, although he mostly-but-not-always used the variant spelling Sydney which I guess was subsequently rarer and less marked-as-Ashkenazic) *AND* his surname was one of the subset of perfectly-good British surnames that eventually found favor among more assimilation-oriented Ashkenazic-Americans because it was the output of the process of clipping/calquing typically Ashkenazic surnames into English.

    In Chicago local elections there is considerable lore (and supporting data, or at least supporting anecdotes) that candidates with Irish-appearing surnames do better than any other group and that in particular black candidates with more Irish sounding surnames (Riley was one such black candidate’s name — it doesn’t have to be a name that scores as high as O’Shaughnessy on the Celt-o-Meter) do better than black candidates with “normal” WASPy type names. But Chicago and Cook County are another area where whites with WASPy surnames are notably thinner on the ground than they are in the nation as a whole, much less in strongholds like West Virginia or Utah (to pick two states not usually lumped together as peas in a pod on other metrics).

  121. Trond Engen says:

    I’ve lost track of which threads we discuss Indo-Europeans, genes and archaeology, so I might as well re-rail this thread now that the World Cup is well and duly over.

    There’s a new paper out: Maja Krzewińska et al.: Ancient genomes suggest the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppe as the source of western Iron Age nomads, on the genetic relationship between the successive nomadic cultures of the Western Steppe; the Bronze Age Srubnaya(-Alakulskaya), the early Iron Age Cimmerians, their successors the Scythians, and the Sarmatians.

    My takeaway is that:

    1. The Srubnaya were a continuation of the Yamnaya population mixed with back-migrated Andronovo peoples.

    2. The Cimmerians came from the Central Steppe and were further mixed with Andronovo as well as Siberian elements. They kept in contact with the easternmost reions of the steppe and became much more “Altaian” over time.

    3. The Scythians are intriguing — very diverse but with a high proporsion of Central European ancestry from the back-migration. Or maybe the story is something else entirely. Half of them have nothing of the Eastern elements characteristic of all other steppe populations, including the Yamnaya, and could just as well have been Central Europeans Farmers. Others look more southern steppe. One has no European ancestry at all — the purest Altian in the whole study — including the Altaians they use for comparison — and very similar to the source of the eastern element in the Cimmerians. One interpretation could be that the Scythian elite took over a Cimmerian elite practice of alliance by marriage with trading partners in both ends of the steppe, and that the examined Scythian individuals just happen to be first generation, while the Cimmerians with eastern genes are second and third generation. There’s probably information on the sex of each individual in the supplementary material, but I can’t seem to find a link and I’m too tired to go looking.

    4. The Sarmatians are more standard steppe. Similar to the early Cimmerians, but maybe slightly more Siberian, as is to be expected, having stayed considerably longer in the Volga-Ural region.

  122. Trond Engen says:

    Let’s say that the Cimmerians and later the Scythians dominated the whole Steppe. The Cimmerians were not Eastern. Instead, being Western in powerbase and contacts, their elite forged partnerships in the east by marriage and fostering of sons. This made them become more Eastern over time. The Scythians were not the equal partners of the Cimmerians but their vassals in the eastern steppe. They got Eastern genes from local gene flow as well as down from the Cimmerian elite through marriage. When they ousted the Cimmerians as overlords, the new rulers had to forge partnerships with European and Circum-Pontic powers, and their elite got genetically westernized. The Sarmatians were the vassals of the Scythians on the Volga-Ural steppe until the Huns cut off the eastern steppe and the Scythians had to scale down their operation. Forced further west by the Huns, the Sarmatians ousted the Scythians, but they never ruled the whole steppe, and hence their genetic profile didn’t change much.

  123. David Marjanović says:

    Intriguing. I’ll have to read it at… some point. 🙁

  124. Trond Engen says:

    I found the supplements. The links were obvious once I was awake.

    The individuals are an even mix of males and females, and that goes for all four groups. The extreme outlier, the “Altaian” Scythian, is female. She’s also an outlier datewise, carbon dated to 248-391 CE (cal.), which could mean that she actually was a Hunn who for some reason was buried in a 600 year old Scythian barrow. That, or the date in the spreadsheat should have been BCE.

    Of the seven Scythians who look like European Farmers, four are female and three are male. Four (2F + 2M) are described as “South European”, which seems to mean that they could have come out of the Pannonian Basin or the Danube Valley. All four are from the same cemetery in Moldova. Three are described as “North European”. Two of these (1F + 1M) are from central Ukraine roughly 7th c. BCE, the third from the same cemetery in Moldova as the other four. The dates of the Moldovan graves are discrepant. Two are roughly 300 BCE, two are far off at early third millennium CE (or a decimal error?), and one couldn’t be dated. The two “Ukrainians” lack the “South Asian” element diagnostic of Bronze Age/Bell Beaker, so distinctly Ante-IE. At such a late date, I really wonder how that could have happened. The one “Moldovan” “North-European” could be from Poland, or perhaps mixed with most of her ancestry in Northern Europe.

    The Y chromosomes are surprising (to me, anyway). The story has been that the Yamnaya (Pit Grave) people (or at least their rulers) were all R1b1. With the westward expansion of IE, their genes were brought to Central Europe, and even became dominant on the Atlantic rim. Somewhere in Eastern Europe males with R1a1a1 came into the mix, and they were significant in the expansion of CW north and east through Russia, which turned into a back-migration that contributed to the Indo-Iranian genesis — and eventually brought R1a1a1 to Iran and India.

    From this I’d expect the stay-at-home Srubnaya (Timber Grave) to be R1b1 and the Indo-Iranian Scythians and Sarmatians to be R1a1a1, but it’s the other way around. The Timbergravians are all R1a1a1, which means a full replacement of the male lines from Yamnaya, and the Scythians and Sarmatians are all R1b1a1a2, straight out of Yamnaya. The Cimmerians are less uniform and also a little off the chart, one “extinct” R1b1a and one “East Asian” Q1a1.

    The MTDNA is too diverse to see any patterns, and I know too little about it anyway, but there’s a couple of easy points to make. The Cimmerans are off this chart too. The male with the “East Asian” Q1a1 Y-chromosome also has “Northern” C5c mitochondria – but his genetic profile is still about 75% western. The other male is H9a. Both C5c and H9a seem to be very rare. The female is R, which says “Middle East”, but which I also learn was found in some of the Tarim mummies. The other three groups are diverse, but with an overweight of U4/U5, which may have been picked up on the way back through the northern forests.

  125. Trond Engen says:

    early third millennium CE

    Far off, but not that far. BCE..

  126. Trond Engen says:

    The Y chromosomes are surprising (to me, anyway)

    Apparently they shouldn’t be. If I had bothered to read the Wikipedia article on the Srubna culture before posting, I would have known that they’ve been entirely R1a1a1 since 2015. But that’s not really surprising, with the Andronovans of the eastern steppe supposed to be in the same branch. What’s strange is the R1b1a1a2 of Skythians and Sarmatians. Could the Skythian male line be from an eastern pocket of, call it Para-Tocharians, that avoided the Indo-Iranianization and only later took over the tribe, the land and the language of the central Steppe? That’s pretty much what the paper suggests for the Cimmerians, but I think it make even more sense for the Skythians. I still don’t know what to make of the lack of Y uniformity in the Cimmerians. Not that it’s unnatural, but it’s looking very out of place on the Steppe in that era. Maybe they were the result of a revolutionary takeover. Or maybe we’re fooled by the small sample size.

  127. And for the big picture, here‘s on the latest and greatest integration of the messy family tree of European ancestry.

  128. Trond Engen says:

    Another paper from the Copenhagen lab: The First Horse Herders and the Impact of Early Bronze Age Steppe Expansions into Asia (including supplementary materials, + arch. and linguistic background papers).

    Abstract:

    The Yamnaya expansions from the western steppe into Europe and Asia during the Early Bronze Age (~3000 BCE) are believed to have brought with them Indo-European languages and possibly horse husbandry. We analyze 74 ancient whole-genome sequences from across Inner Asia and Anatolia and show that the Botai people associated with the earliest horse husbandry derived from a hunter-gatherer population deeply diverged from the Yamnaya. Our results also suggest distinct migrations bringing West Eurasian ancestry into South Asia before and after but not at the time of Yamnaya culture. We find no evidence of steppe ancestry in Bronze Age Anatolia from when Indo-European languages are attested there. Thus, in contrast to Europe, Early Bronze Age Yamnaya-related migrations had limited direct genetic impact in Asia.

    The paper reads more like a summary of recent developments than anything substantially new, even where it does provide new or improved insights. More later.

  129. Trond Engen says:

    I meant to sift through the supplements before saying more, but I feel lazy. Two points then:

    1. The Yamna-derived Afanasievo culture morphed into the Siberian Okunevo culture without any change in the genetic makeup. It seems that the IE elite simply got assimilated and local tastes won out.

    2. There’s absolutely no Steppe (EHG-rich) ancestry in Bronze Age Anatolians. A lot of Caucasus ancestry, though. But they’re not ready to move PIE (or PIA) back in time and across the Caucasus. They prefer cultural diffusion from the Steppe through the Balkan or the Caucasus.

  130. Thanks for the update!

  131. David Marjanović says:

    They prefer cultural diffusion from the Steppe through the Balkan or the Caucasus.

    Cultural diffusion from the Steppe through the Caucasus seems unlikely: it’s the non-Anatolian branch that has a feminine gender like the Caucasian languages.

  132. Trond Engen says:

    I should have read the supplements before commenting. This is the paper by de Barros Damgaard et al with free supplements that Rick linked to earlier. But now we have the paper itself. And a second reading of the supplements..

  133. David Marjanović says:

    Oh good, because I was about to ask what Kristiansen was smoking when he put a freshly submitted manuscript for Science online, and to say that I hoped Science wouldn’t find out! Nature and Science used to be extremely strict about keeping everything secret up until publication – I know a paper that was rejected by both because the specimen it was about had been presented at a conference – though nowadays they accept manuscripts that are already out as preprints, so maybe that has changed.

  134. Could the Skythian male line be from an eastern pocket of, call it Para-Tocharians, that avoided the Indo-Iranianization and only later took over the tribe, the land and the language of the central Steppe?

    And though I’m just a steppe parparian,
    In two weeks I’ll pe Tocharian,
    And it shows.
    Anything Koes.
    —Kevin Wald

  135. freshly submitted manuscript for Science online

    {had an absurd mental image briefly}

    – Our journal only accepts illuminated manuscripts on calf parchment, Mr. Kristiansen!

  136. Trond Engen says:

    I forgot to mention that the two early Bronze Age individuals from the steppe of eastern Kazakhstan are genetically indistinguishable from their Okunevo contemporaries in the Yenisei basin. I don’t know what that means, but it seems significant.

  137. David Marjanović says:

    Might mean that Proto-Samoyedic was spoken by Uralized pre-Tocharians, but I’m really speculating here…

    (Proto-Samoyedic */wɤn/ “dog” is currently explained as from a pre-Tocharian accusative.)

  138. Trond Engen says:

    That may be it. Since the Okunevo people formed locally from Afanasievo immigrants and local Sibierians, it should mean that the gap after the Botai people on the eastern Steppe was filled by people from the Yenisei basin. That could be Okunevans taking up trade nomadism between the Altai and the BMAC cities. This might very well be the mechanism that brought the Tocharians to Tocharia. The test would be the genetic profile of the Tocharians.

    The Okunevans may eventually have ended up as Samoyedic speakers, but not quite yet, I think. Proto-Samoyedic would have come to the Yenisei later, with the Seima-Turbino network. There are too many proto-languages in that area already.

  139. David Marjanović says:

    All the way to the BMAC cities?

  140. Trond Engen says:

    I’m speculating too, you know.

    I certainly didn’t take a firm stand on that, but if I’ll venture a guess, I don’t think one family group with wagons and animals would have travelled all the way. Rather they formed a network of local nomads meeting up at annual gatherings to exchange goods and genes. But even if groups didn’t travel very far, adventurous individuals surely did.

    The two graves were found just within the northern border of Kazakhstan and a long way west of the straight line between Okunevo and BMAC — almost half-way back to the Lower Volga — so maybe they were filling the three-way trade between BMAC, Okunevo and and the Lower Volga until the spread of Andronovo.

    The graves are described as Yamnaya-like in one place, Afanasievo in another, but I think that’s a distinction without a difference. Reading the genetic description again I see that the two women were only almost indistinguishable from Okunevans. Interestingly, they actually show less evidence of admixture of western genes than the contemporary bodies in Okunevo graves. So these are pure forest Siberians being buried as nomads in the middle of the Steppe a couple hundred years after the Afanasievo culture assimilated to Okunevo.

    Again, probably important, but I don’t know how. Maybe the two Steppe females were born in Okunevo. Maybe the Afanasievans never really settled, and the Afanasievo presence in the Yenisei basin was seasonal stops. While there for the winter(?) they married into the ruling families of the settled Pre-Okunevans. Okunevo acquired genes and cultural elements from the in-laws on the steppe, and Afanasievo on the steppe acquired genes from the settled Okunevans. When Afanasievo were pushed out by Andronovo, the contact ended and the Steppe element in Okunevo gradually disappeared .

  141. An irresistible twist in the PIE proposed Steppe home story. One of the earliest proto-Kurgan burials at the cultural transition zone between the Caucasus Northern foothills and the Steppe emerges both as a key to the later Kurgan phenomenon and as an ancient DNA related to Yamnaya culture and its descendants. A classic low mound with remnants of a catacomb-like chamber full of red ocher, as summarized in a recent book on the antecedents of the Kurgan cultures (Кореневский С.Н. Рождение кургана (погребальные памятники энеолитического времени Предкавказья и Волго-Донского междуречья)). Inside a 6,000+ tomb, a female skeleton with a healed trepanation of the cranium. But the real clincher is the name of this monument, which shall forever make all its descendants proud: “Vonyuchka” (Russ. Вонючка “Nasty Stinker”) (The site owes it to its location at the sewage treatment facility of the city of Pyatigorsk)

  142. Trond Engen says:

    I went searching for “Vonyuchka Pyatigorsk kurgan”, and the only relevant hit turned out to be one that my browser said I’d visited before, namely this docx file, the supplements to (I think) the Wang & al paper we recently discussed.

    Vonyuchka 1, Russia
    N 44.019962°, E 43.155538°
    Excavation ‘Nasledie’, Stavropol 2010, licence №2010-130 (A. A. Kamykov)
    The site of Vonyuchka 1 also belongs to the groups of burial mounds located on the Konstantinov plateau near the town or Pyatigorsk. The mounds are situated near a small creek, at the right side of river Podkumok. The site is close to Goryachevodsky 2 (1.5 km) and Lysogorskaya 6 (22 km), respectively. Thus, like the others, Vonyuchka 1 is situated in the North Caucasian piedmont steppe in a forest steppe-herb steppe environment1. Mound 1, which was excavated in a rescue excavation, had a diameter of 40 m and was up to 2 m high and contained beside the studied founding grave 8 other Bronze Age burials. One individual produced genome-wide data:

    • VJ1001.B0101+D0101 (BZNK-3112+114/2), kurgan 1, grave 8, the founding grave in the mound discovered in a catacomb like construction. The bones were very badly preserved, but samples were taken directly after excavation. The entire skeleton was packed in a thick layer of dark-red ochre. Grave goods consisted of a ceramic vessel, a long flint blade, a flint scraper and a stone object. The skull of the individual revealed a partly healed trepanation35. Dating: 4332-4238 calBCE (5409±24BP, MAMS-29823), 4229–4065 calBCE (5314±21 BP, MAMS- 21327)

    According to Wang & al, the stinking Proto-Kurganess was one of three individuals from the “Eneolithic steppe” who were genetically very similar to individuals from Khvalynsk and the Samara region. They are all roughly 4100-4400 CalBCE.

    “Korenevskiy SN. Rozhdenie kurgana: pogrebalnye pamjatniki eneoliticheskogo vremeni Predkavkazja i Volgo-Donskogo mezhdurechia. TAUS (2012)” is listed as a reference in the supplementary document, and I guess the new book is a popularization or an expansion based on the same archaeological material. Very interesting anyway. The cultural transmission zone in the Caucasus is becoming more important by the day.

  143. Reek, my name is Reek, it rhymes with freak…

  144. Dmitry Pruss says:

    Excavation ‘Nasledie’, Stavropol 2010, licence №2010-130 (A. A. Kamykov)
    Yes it’s Wang 2019 (?) supplement for the preprint published last May. “Kamykov” is properly Kalmykov (сотрудник ООО «Наследие» археолог Алексей Калмыков)

  145. Trond Engen says:

    Academia.edu just tried to push this on me:

    A href=”https://www.academia.edu/38903450/Ancient_human_genome-wide_data_from_a_3000-year_interval_in_the_Caucasus_corresponds_with_eco-geographic_regions_OPEN?email_work_card=title”>Wang et al: Ancient human genome-wide data from a 3000-year interval in the Caucasus corresponds with eco-geographic regions.

    And that worked exactly as they planned. But I’m too tired to read it tonight.

  146. Trond Engen says:

    Too tired to make a proper link too. I also forgot it completely. Then I have a project for this weekend.

  147. Trond Engen says:

    The paper (working link) is just the final (?) version of the previous Wang et al paper. There are a few minor changes to maps and graphs, but nothing that alters the general outline.

  148. Not exactly Europeans—or Indians, for that matter—but still of interest:

    A research team led by the National Museum of Nature and Science said Monday it has sequenced and analyzed with high accuracy the whole genome of a woman who lived about 3,500 to 3,800 years ago, in the second half of Japan’s Jomon Period, for the first time.

    The results of the genome analysis, which was almost as accurate as similar analysis performed on modern people thanks to the well-preserved DNA, suggest that a common ancestor diverged into the Jomon people and Han Chinese about 18,000 to 38,000 years ago, the researchers said.
    […]
    Details of the study will be published shortly in the Anthropological Society of Nippon’s English-language journal.

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/05/14/national/decoding-jomon-womans-whole-genome-suggests-common-ancestry-han-chinese/

  149. Rodger C says:

    The results of the genome analysis … suggest that a common ancestor diverged into the Jomon people and Han Chinese about 18,000 to 38,000 years ago

    At that time depth, does the statement have any real point, or is it only the result of, say, some Japanese tendency to ask how closely everyone is related to the Chinese?

  150. Japanese tendency to ask how closely everyone is related to the Chinese?

    Probably not, as the Japanese have only on the order of 20% Jomon ancestry, which has been already known to be a deeply divergent branch of Asian DNA varieties. The rest of the Japanese DNA came from far more recent mainland migrants, related to contemporary Koreans.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/jhg2016110

    The overall pattern of ancient human diversity in East Asia is strikingly different from what we learn from Europe with endless chain of extinctions and replacements. In Asia, maybe owing to its ecological diversity, lots of ancient lineages contributed to today’s human DNA

  151. Alexei Kassian and co-authors published a preprint on radiation of IE branches. Has it been posted here already?
    https://www.academia.edu/39903804/Rapid_radiation_of_the_Inner_Indo-European_languages_an_advanced_approach_to_Indo-_European_lexicostatistics_pre-print_accepted_in_Diachronica_2020_

    The “advanced” concepts are largely 2-fold.
    Minimizing the number of languages in comparisons to avoid multiple-comparisons errors which would require inordinate numbers of cognates to overcome, and lingustically-aware iterative pruning of cognate sets (first stage – just relying on a linguist’s common sense; 2nd stage – identification of morphologically related forms which differ, for example, because in one language the word used to be a noun, while in the other – a related verb; and finally identification of the borrowed forms which transcend family boundaries).

    Some predicted split times have over a millennium confidence intervals, but many predicted splits are more narrow and all of them make a reasonable fit with the archaeological dates.
    Anatolian split 3700 BCE (CI 4139–3450)
    Tocharian split 3000 BCE (CI 3727–2262) vs. emergence of Afanasievo 2800 BCE;
    Split between Balto-Slavic vs. Indo-Iranian 2241 BCE (CI 2723–1790) vs. the waning era of LBK in 2300-2000 BCE
    Three-way split between Italo/Germanic/Celtic 2080 BCE (CI 2655–1537) vs. the end of Bell Beaker Culture 2100 BCE
    Split within the Indo-Iranian clade 1740 BCI (CI 2044–1458) vs. the end of Sintashta 1800 BCE

  152. David Marjanović says:

    Interesting indeed. I’ll read it as soon as the slow Internet connection on this bus on a highway in eastern Germany will let me.

    (I wonder if they’re speaking Georgian a few rows behind me on the other side of the aisle. Lots of unmistakably ejective [ts’], lots of [χ], and the occasional давай…)

  153. Trond Engen says:

    Much would depend on the criteria for pruning. There could be a lot of leeway for retrofitting. I suppose that’s described in the paper (which I may possibly read on a bus on a highway in southern Norway later tonight, so it could be a good idea to download it to my laptop before I go).

  154. There could be a lot of leeway for retrofitting.

    I shouldn’t even have to say that the idea of extensive manual pruning of the data worries my statistical alter ego a whole lot. It is true that “add this – remove this – compare again – repeat” is the humanities’ classic p-hacking recipe. But there are also numerous other biases which may creep in (both related to the pruning process, such as person/ institution biases and time-of-processing / batch effect biases, where tomorrow’s batch is processed differently from yesterday’s batch, and biases inherent to language evolution in different settings). Ideally, pruning has to be automated and based on pre-defined statistical criteria, and even then it needs to be explored for biases.

    The other dangerous side of complicated manual cleanup steps is that it severely restricts the sizes of the datasets, yet narrow datasets are generally more prone to biases.

  155. Trond Engen says:

    On the bus. I’ve read the paper but not the supplements. Soon there, so quick. My conclusion so far is that the pruning criteria are sound, and that the paper is not so much an exercise in Indo-European chronology as a test (or proof of concept) of the method of Bayesian lexicostatistics and the pruning criteria on an Indo-European dataset. The results are in accordance with the consensus view on IE phylogenetics, and that’s about as much as we can learn from it on this stage. The deeper issue of the soundness of lexicostatistic dating is another matter, though I imagine that a Bayesian approach is the right way to go, possibly in combination with loanword chronologies.

  156. David Marjanović says:

    Now look at that, they reinvented the square wheel: “homoplastic optimization” is nothing other than bad old reweighting, except with less math (i.e. all weights are 1 or 0 instead of fractional). It’s still logically circular.

    I’m only on page 9 yet.

  157. David Eddyshaw says:

    reinvented the square wheel

    I propose to steal this and let people assume that I was clever enough to have come up with it myself. The scope for application is huge.

  158. David Marjanović says:

    The scope for application is huge.

    Indeed it is, I’ve been using it for years… 🙂

    (Das Rad neu erfinden is a pretty common turn of phrase, rather more so than in English, so I may have been predisposed to extend it.)

  159. Lars (the original one) says:

    I think the corresponding phrase in Danish is a recent calque. We improved the disparaging han har ikke opfundet hjulet = ‘Er hat nicht das Rad erfunden’ to han har ikke opfundet den dybe tallerken = ‘He didn’t invent the soup plate’, so that is what you reinvent unless your mind is infested with English turns of phrase.

    (This of course ignores cultural history since bowls were probably used for serving meals before the wooden plate for cutting meat was introduced. But the image of someone stupid enough to pour soup on a flat plate is clearly funny to some people).

  160. Soup plate is the formal name in English-language protocol for a bowl that is not resting on a plate underneath it. If you were at a fancy dinner party, hosted by a couple with a full set of china, you would only have a free-standing bowl if it was quite broad (and so, plate like). Nonetheless, I have always expected that calling such a dish* a “plate” originated artificially, as a prescription from manners mavens. When you are done with a course eaten on a plate, you are supposed to leave your dirty silverware on the plate, to be cleared away along with the plate. If you were eating from a bowl, you leave your spoon, etc., on the plate underneath the bowl. For a small bowl, this makes sense; spoons and forks propped up in a small bowl are unstable and probably unesthetic. However, for a broad, shallow bowl, there is no real issue. I suspect that at some stage, someone who was working on systematizing table manners decided that such bowls needed to be classified among the plates, to justify how people were actually placing their used spoons.

    * My daughter used to quibble, when told to, “Clear the dirty dishes off the table,” that cutlery, cups, and such were not “dishes,” so she was justified in ignoring them

  161. Lars (the original one) says:

    Well, en suppetallerken is the size of a dinner plate with a flat edge and somewhat smaller bowl in the middle — low enough to leave your spoon with the business end in the depression and the handle resting on the edge. The difference from en skål is that the latter has more or less vertical sides. There are smaller dybe tallerkener for dessert, ‘properly’ for sweet cold soups and the like, but also used for ice cream if you don’t trust your diners with keeping it confined on a flat plate. Anything you eat with a spoon, really.

    But the joke isn’t really about bowls vs fancier stuff, it would work just as well with suppeskål = ‘soup bowl’ except it’s not as traditional.

    Danish parents just tell the kids to rydde af bordet or simply rydde ud.

  162. Danish parents just tell the kids to rydde af bordet or simply rydde ud.
    Same in German: (den Tisch) abräumen.

  163. Trond Engen says:

    … and then the son or daughter will quibble that cleaning the table and filling the dishwasher can justifiably be ignored.

  164. Kids are lawyers by nature.

  165. David Marjanović says:

    Same in German: (den Tisch) abräumen.

    Or ((das) Geschirr( ))abräumen.

  166. John Cowan says:
  167. Trond Engen says:

    David M.: Now look at that, they reinvented the square wheel: “homoplastic optimization” is nothing other than bad old reweighting, except with less math (i.e. all weights are 1 or 0 instead of fractional). It’s still logically circular.

    I don’t get the circularity of that. Or rather, I get the circularity, but I can’t see any way around (ha!) that. Removing clear outliers isn’t much different from removing probable loanwords based on other criteria. It removes noise in the data, and — providing the criteria for “optimization” are clear and the execution is consistent — the errors should be random enough not to skew the results.

  168. David Marjanović says:

    You get a tree from your data, then you check how well the data fit the tree, then you weight the data differentially to fit the tree better, then you get a new tree from the differentially weighted data – that were weighted to fit the first tree.

    If the first tree was good enough, the second tree may well be even better.

    If the first tree contained a big mistake, the second tree will double down on it.

    Just don’t do it. Accept the first tree, or use implied weighting (a complex, non-circular method implemented in TNT that does not use a tree to weight the characters) if you’re confident its assumptions are met, i.e. characters that fit the true tree perfectly are more common than characters that require any number of extra steps. If its assumptions are not met, it is worse than equal weighting.

    Tell me if you’re interested in references; one (which does little more than present a matrix that does not meet the assumptions of implied weighting) is my huge open-access paper.

  169. John Cowan says:

    Sure, I’ll hit that.

  170. If the first tree contained a big mistake, the second tree will double down on it.

    Isn’t it generally called iterative optimization rather than circular something? And limited manual cleaning the datasets is crucial everywhere in the statistics. There may be all sorts of hidden patterns which would lead the analysis to a wrong result if left unchecked. To show you some crazy biology examples: a stress-related hormone was “discovered” to be an early-stage cancer sign, because it was elevated in the patients who came for their first oncologist’s appointment (This discovery was undone); but a molecular test to predict the efficacy of the breast cancer chemo was developed using the same dataset twice, in the initial discovery and in validation, making the algorithm to “double down on the initial flukes” – and it is on the market nonetheless.

    The difference seems to be in the amount of labor, already quite significant for “regular statisticians’ work”, but much higher in linguistics, which may preclude the authors from iterating SEVERAL models and gauging their veracity by scoring the weights of the data (the more stupid data penalties need to be imposed because the model s*cks, the stronger is the dataset-wide drop in weights)

  171. Lars (the original one) says:

    If you have a large data set and you have a reasonable assumption that all of it represents the same underlying processes, and you can slice it up into separate parts without introducing new biases (such as a time dependency), then you can use one part to optimize your model and get a more significant result when you run it on the other parts. This is feasible when you are a particle physicist and can just run the machine until you have a trillion events more (and you know to high precision if the conditions did change).

    Using all the data you have to optimize and then applying the resulting optimized model to the same data must at its most charitable be described as wishful thinking.

  172. Trond Engen says:

    I’ll have to reread and look up the actual iterative procedure, but meanwhile: I do agree that all later runs implicitly assume that the first tree is correct. The later runs are in my understanding not attempts to validate the first, which would indeed be circular, but to add a minimum of new assumptions in order to obtain an even clearer picture. Also, in a wordlist, it’s not clear that all words are inherited genetically, so a method for identifying and excluding possible false positives (chance resemblances or inter-branch borrowings) is necessary. This could obviously be done by assigning percentages instead of 0 or 1, but the result wouldn’t be better than the theory imforming the method for assigning percentages, and with a small data sample like here, it might be better to look at each case individually. Though, of course, this also assumes that the criteria are valid.

  173. Trond Engen says:

    I meant to put the word “parsimony” in there somewhere, but I’m thumbing on my phone and couldn’t be bothered to do a major edit.

  174. David Marjanović says:

    Lest this list go to waste:

    karkínos < √kark- > karkaṭa- ‘crab’

    That one’s interesting, because the root violates the constraint against two identical consonants, and the *a is suspicious, and yet there’s clearly no other way to reconstruct it if the words are indeed inherited from PIE. Do the attested words only refer to crabs, which would make it more likely that they’re loans on semantic grounds, or can they also refer to freshwater crayfish?

    kóŋkhos < *ḱonkxos > śaŋká- ‘mussel’

    This one is interesting because it’s got the aspiration on the wrong side of the equation: *Th₂ and apparently *Th₁ give (*)Tʰ in Indo-Iranian, but while the Greek situation is confusing, plain *T is evidently the default outcome there.

  175. You say “DNA can have a definitive impact on a debate about language” but spread of Y-DNA haplogroup may completely unrelated with language and culture , especially invaders are significantly few in numbers like as Yamnaya
    What scientific researchs says that Yamnaya invaders mostly men warriors and few in numbers. Western european men were massacred but maternal lineage of Europe remain unchanged .
    I wonder if they have interested in family responsibilities or settled life

    I think Yamnaya invasion mostly like as Mongol invasion, so local languages remain unchanged but borrowed some Yamnaya special words like as axle, harnes pole, wagon etc.

  176. David Marjanović says:

    I do agree that all later runs implicitly assume that the first tree is correct. The later runs are in my understanding not attempts to validate the first, which would indeed be circular, but to add a minimum of new assumptions in order to obtain an even clearer picture.

    To obtain a clearer picture by reducing the number of equally optimal trees is indeed the most common use of reweighting. But that still assumes that the characters which fit the original trees the best should be preferred in calculating the next round of trees: it fits the weights of the characters to the trees and then the trees to the weights of the characters. If the original trees are flawed to begin with, reweighting will double down on the false signal that caused this flawed tree distribution.

    The other wrongheaded assumption in there is that accuracy and precision are the same. It’s not; a smaller number of optimal trees is more precise, but not necessarily more accurate.

    while the Greek situation is confusing, plain *T is evidently the default outcome there

    Recently I downloaded a huge paper on this. I have yet to read it.

    What scientific researchs says that Yamnaya invaders mostly men warriors and few in numbers.

    No. What it says is that their numbers were large enough that they make up up to a third of our ancestors (the other two thirds are Western Hunter-Gatherers and Anatolian farmers).

    local languages remain unchanged but borrowed some Yamnaya special words like as axle, harnes pole, wagon etc.

    A language cannot become Indo-European by taking up a few IE words! Whether a language is IE can be easily seen in its basic vocabulary and its grammar.

    Keep in mind, too, that these warriors were a lot less mobile than the Mongols later. The stirrup hadn’t yet been invented; indeed, horseriding in general, at least in battle, hadn’t been invented. They used chariots.

  177. Chariots came a few centuries later than Yamnaya culture – around 2000 BC at the earliest.

    Yamnaya ended by 2600 BC, so they didn’t have war chariots yet – just horses.

    How exactly they conquered Europe is not clear.

  178. PlasticPaddy says:

    I thought on another thread there was something about horse-drawn skis or sleds, so the driver is attached to the horse but not the vehicle.

  179. Skis drawn by the horse is Seyma-Turbino, an amazing but later development. The early domesticated horses were largely for food, but it would make sense if there were forms of horse-drawn transportation preceding the very high tech chariots. Some much rougher sleighs or carts, like drawn by the bulls before.

    The Yamnaya, and their mysterious cousins who conquered their way into Europe, were big guys, a foot taller than the farmers in their way… And warlike. With abundant bronze weapons

  180. David Marjanović says:

    With abundant bronze weapons

    Like chariots (I should have known that), bronze came later. Early IE including the whole Corded Ware culture was a chalcolithic affair.

  181. Dmitry Pruss says:

    bronze came later. Early IE including the whole Corded Ware culture was a chalcolithic affair.

    Now you put me into a hurried reading mode 🙂 I understand that the original Yamnaya graves didn’t have much metal goods, but I sort of assumed that they already had metal weapons by the time the expansion started. Now I see that the lower Danube tumuli are still having very little of the grave artifacts. But isn’t the Battle Ax Culture already trading in tin with the British isles? Need better clues about the archaeological context. Everywhere I look, the talk is about DNA, DNA, DNA instead 🙂

  182. Trond Engen says:

    Yes, even the archaeologists working on migrations talk mainly of DNA. We need more discussions of how, when and to what extent old cultures are replaced, transformed or equipped with new skills. We need to understand which elements of which culture are preserved or lost, and how these are associated with different mechanisms for genetic replacement.

    As for the Battle Axe Culture, one thing is metalwork, which is a learned skill, and the products of which are traded goods. Another is graves. The individual unmarked graves of the Scandinavian Battle Axe Culture are markedly different from the large family graves and dolmens of the neolithic farmers. There are some examples of small mounds, but not really tumuli. From 2300 BCE or so, Scandinavians started building monumental cist graves. I think this is associated with an influx of Bell Beaker elements, and also new power structures that may have been enabled by metals. The tumuli (and chariots, apparently) came with the Nordic Bronze Age around 1800 BCE. (I just made a timeline of this in the INDO-EUROPEAN CORDED WARE thread.)

  183. Khvalynsk / Samara predecessors of the classic Yamnaya have stone weapons only, but the DNA evidence of the far-ranging military raids already accumulates (with every generation, there is more Caucasus farmer-origin DNA in a classic sex-biased admixture pathway indicating that they took some wives from the very far South.

    Of course by the time it comes to the classic Yamnaya, the DNA is a case of glass half-full because, although most of the DNA make-up is a perfect fit to the Bronze age invaders of Europe, the Y-chromosome is not.

    The ancestors of those invaders were from somewhere close, but where?

  184. David Marjanović says:

    But isn’t the Battle Ax Culture already trading in tin with the British isles?

    The battle axes themselves were polished stones…

  185. Dmitry Pruss says:

    The battle axes themselves were polished stones…

    Oh. A few misconceptions just got battle-axed 🙂 Thank you!

  186. Mayuresh Madhav Kelkar says:

    https://www.academia.edu/36998766/Five_waves_of_Indo-European_expansion_a_preliminary_model_2018_

    There is a new study out by the Reich team along with the ASI and the Birbal Sahani Institute

    https://twitter.com/vagheesh?lang=en

  187. Trond Engen says:

    The stone battle axes were modelled after Balkan copper axes. The scarceness of dwellings and the relatively simple graves make the Battle Axe period poorly understood, but it seems to have been one of animal husbandry and high mobility, at least among the segment of the population that wore axes.

    The period after ca. 2300 BCE is called dolkalderen “the Dagger Age” in Scandinavian tradition, after the omnipresent flint daggers. This is conventionally the last phase of the Neolithic, but might just as well be seen as the beginning of the Nordic Bronze Age. The daggers were modelled after European bronze daggers. Bronze daggers as grave goods and ceremonial objects start turning up in the Aegean and Egypt a couple of centuries earlier. With the Dagger Age there was a rebound of agriculture. In Norway’s case, there’s really a whole new form of society coming in. Funnel Beaker agriculture hardly spread beyond the southeastern regions and the southern coast, but in the Dagger Age it took hold in Trøndelag and beyond.

  188. Skis drawn by the horse is Seyma-Turbino, an amazing but later development

    Hang on, what? This should put some kind of a spanner in the cogs of the recent theory that Seima-Turbino was Proto-Uralic, there is no common word for ‘horse’ whatsoever among the five western branches of Uralic, at best some binary correspondences along the lines of ‘horse’ ~ ‘cow’, ‘horse’ ~ ‘reindeer’.

  189. Trond Engen says:

    Mayuresh Madhav Kelkar: There is a new study out by the Reich team along with the ASI and the Birbal Sahani Institute

    Interesting, but did you post the right links? The first seems to have nothing to do with genetic studies. The link to Vagheesh Narasimhan’s Twitter feed is more relevant. I didn’t have to poke around for long to find this link:

    Narasimhan, V. M., Patterson, N. J., et al (2019): The Formation of Human Populations in South and Central Asia; Science; 365:eaat7487

    I think I’ll try asking Hat to move your comment and my reply over to a thread where we already discuss South and Central Asia, e.g The perception of Indo-European in Greece.

  190. I’ve copied your comments to that thread; carry on.

  191. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks. It’s hard enough already finding the right thread to lash on to.

  192. cogs of the recent theory that Seima-Turbino was Proto-Uralic

    For this one it’s hard to spot the right thread too 🙂 Most of Parpola and Seima-Turbino discussion is here
    http://languagehat.com/the-language-of-babel/

    although it was hard to grasp without images of the artifacts and the maps, and I put those on the more image-friendly Facebook at the time, where it remains in relative obscurity. Seima-Turbino isn’t called a phenomenon rather than a culture without a reason. It lasted too short, and spread too fast, but most importantly, its uniquely complex technologies (chiefly bone and metal) were sourced from very different cultures, mostly for their war applications. So it sounds like a short-lived multiethnic professional and/or military organization rather than a “people” or a “culture”.

    Sintashta in the Urals is a larger and longer-lasting but also multi-ethnic, judging both by archaeological data and by the DNA of its dwellers, some of him have quite distinct Siberian-type ancestry (although not necessarily the most expected mix for the proto-Uralics). My point is linguistic interinfluences between Indo-European and proto-Uralic may have happened in a number of places between Ural and Altain mountains.

    Parpola’s only point in favor of Altai, as I understand, are the words for tin and tin bronzes (since Ural wasn’t a tin country). But the high-technology words of the era may have been easily borrowed across fairly long distances with the long-distance tin trade so characteristic for the bronze age.

  193. Robert Smith says:

    The Yamnaya may not even have been Indo-European speakers!?! In fact I’d hazard an educated guess that they probably spoke something more akin to Ancient Hungarian!??

  194. David Marjanović says:

    Are you sure this guess would be educated? Because Hungarian simply isn’t that old. There were loanwords from Proto-Indo-Iranian, i.e. a rather distant descendant of Proto-Indo-European, in the Proto-Uralic language, which was a fairly distant ancestor of Hungarian.

  195. If we want to integrate Uralic / Indo-Iranian discussion into this thread: Holopainen (2019) (PhD thesis by one of my colleagues) recently argues among other things that the distribution of PII and pre-II loanwords in Uralic is so scanty that also the few widespread ones most likely weren’t into Proto-Uralic or Proto-Finno-Ugric, but rather independently into the various primary branches.

    This will allow some backdating of Uralic chronology, but I would still find it fishy trying to date pre-Hungarian as far back as Yamnaya. It’s been its own language for 2500 years for sure, likely 3000-ish, but pushing that still 2000 more gets fishy also for other reasons such as common Ugric loanwords already from Turkic, which surely was not anywhere in the western steppe picture in Yamnayan times.

  196. Yeah, that definitely sounds fishy, but thanks for linking it; it’s fun to think about this stuff.

  197. David Marjanović says:

    also the few widespread ones most likely weren’t into Proto-Uralic or Proto-Finno-Ugric, but rather independently into the various primary branches.

    Fun fact: I spent hours on Dec. 20th reading that thesis, but didn’t get that far, and haven’t had time for it since. That should teach me to talk about things I haven’t finished reading!

  198. Trond Engen says:

    Here’s a nice summary from David Anthony on the genetic makeup of the Yamnaya mating network. As we remember from Wang et al 2018, the Yamnaya genepool is something like 50% CHG, 35% EHG and 15% mixed WHG and Anatolian farmer. Maikop is too late and had too much Anatolian and even Levantine ancestry to have provided significantly to the genepool. The Caucasus element must be from pure CHG populations outside Maikop. The Anatolian component must have come from the west.

    David Anthony: Archaeology, Genetics, and Language in the Steppes: A Comment on Bomhard. JIES (2019)

    Short version:

    1. The Caucasus-without-Anatolian component came from 6th millennium BCE settled hunters/harvesters on the Lower Volga and the Caspian coast. These were culturally and genetically distinct from the largely EHG Samara people upriver. The introduction of livestock in the 5th millennium brought about a change in lifestyle. The two populations got thoroughly mixed, and the resulting population started roaming the Don-Volga steppe south to the Caucasus and interacting (culturally but not genetically) with Maikop. The oldest PIE may have been spoken in this culture.

    2. The river people on the Dnieper were mixed EGH/WHG. They may have contributed WHG ancestry to Yamnaya, but at a later date.

    3. Most of the Western and Anatolian component must have come from Cucuteni-Tripolye after the borders with Old Europe broke in the late 5th millennium. Anthony maintains that the Anatolian branch is a result of the Steppe intrusions to the Danube valley.

  199. Trond Engen says:

    Some followup thoughts on Anatolian:

    Hittite was well established as a regional language in Central Anatolia by the time of the Kültepe texts. That means 2000 BCE if not earlier. Anatolian personal names are also found in records from the 25th century BCE in Ebla in Syria.

    The number of independent Anatolian languages suggests that they had time to evolve separately before Hittite became a major regional language. That might mean long time in Anatolia or several waves of immigration from the Proto-Anatolian homeland. A millennium of divergence dates the split to 3500-3000 BCE.

    The Kura-Araxes culture would bridge the gap between the Caspian shores and central Anatolia. It originated in the southern Caucasus river valleys around 4000 BCE and expanded across Eastern Anatolia, sometimes violently, peaking in the early/mid 3rd millennium, until it dissolved around 2000 BCE. Kura-Araxes was strangely heterogenous in burial customs, maybe suggesting a complex mix of contributing elements under a common top layer.

    Kura-Araxes was overtaken by the Trialeti culture. From a start in Georgia or Armenia around 3000 BCE, it spread across much of the former Kura-Araxes land, peaked at around 2000 BCE, and continued into the Middle Bronze Age. It’s hard to get a grasp on — it’s a continuation of Kura-Araxes, but its also new. It seems to have been an elite layer with new foreign customs like rich kurgan burials with carts. It’s also associated with the introduction of the horse to Anatolia. Since the oldest finds are in the north, it looks as though it could have come through the Caucasus.

    Neither a 4000 BCE or a 3000 BCE north-south migration be seen genetically — at least not yet.

    The predecessor of Kura-Araxes in the southern Caucasus, the 6th-5th millennium Shulaveri-Shomu culture, seems to have been related to the Caspian harvesters. This might open for a PIE homeland in a common ancestral group of the harvesters of the lower Volga and the neolithic farmers of southern Caucasus, maybe in modern Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan. But it would move PIE back to 7000 BCE.

    OTOH, most of the attested Anatolian languages are found in the south and west, in regions that were untouched (or only lightly touched) by both Kuro-Araxes and Triateli. The concentration along the southern coast is most likely an artifact of attestation, writing being common in the Mediterranean sphere but not in the Pontic, but even the Hittites seem to have taken Ḫattuša from the south. It could suggest either an immigration route from the west (maybe even along the southern coast, but that’s no easy way to travel, unless it’s by sea) or that Anatolian languages used to be more widespread and survived on the outskirts. If so, Hittite (and later Luwian) was a bounceback.

  200. Trond Engen says:

    This comment from David M. links to Petra Goedegebure: Central Anatolian languages and language communities in the Colony period: The Luwian substrate of Hattian and the independent Hittites (PIHANS 111 (2008).

    Until now, all attention has been directed towards the influence of the alleged substrate Hattian on Hittite, but surprisingly no one — as far as I know — has ever considered the reverse: possible influence of Hittite or another Anatolian Indo-European language as a substrate of Hattian. If one can build a case for this reversal, then the map of Anatolia of 2000 BCE drastically changes, with some dramatic consequences for the sociopolitical position of the Anatolian Indo-European language communities.

  201. David Eddyshaw says:

    That’s a very interesting paper.
    It’s well outside my area of particular linguistic knowledge, but naturally I do not regard that as a bar to comment …

    PG attempts to finesse the fact that we don’t know the prehistory of Hattic and Hittite in the respects necessary to apply Thomason’s and Kaufman’s “algorithm” for determining if contact-induced change has occurred; she does this by appealing to typology, in the process citing some typological “universals” which certainly aren’t, like

    Universal 2. In languages with prepositions, the genitive almost always follows the
    governing noun, while in languages with postpositions it almost always precedes

    (False, needless to say, in Kusaal; also in English, surely?)

    This all strikes me as dubious.
    Rapidly retreating to familiar ground:

    All the Oti-Volta languages are SVO; all of them always put possessors before possessa. There are not even traces of SOV, like the SOV order with pronoun objects in Romance.There are “Gur” languages which have the “correct” SOV alignment for a language which puts possessors first, but you are then talking about far outliers like Baatonum, or the Senufo languages (which have probably got their word order from Mande anyway.) The time-depth of Oti-Volta is at the very least well over two millennia: a long time for the typologically “wrong” alignment to persist. Much longer than any reasonable time-scale for a Hattic/Anatolian interaction, anyway.

  202. David Marjanović says:

    also in English, surely?

    Well, n German, to put the genitive first has become very poetic over the last few centuries, perhaps because it doesn’t allow enough articles to be squeezed in (the world’s biggest/greatest X = der Welt größtes X = das größte X der Welt) – but to put the genitive second is also the normal order in article-free Slavic languages.

    And in German as well as in English and Romance, once you replace the actual genitive case by “of”, the possessor practically always goes after the possessum.

    I suppose this is compatible with Europe drifting from the SOV order of PIE to SVO over the last 1500 to 2000 years.

  203. David Marjanović says:

    On the prehistory of Hattic: a cautious but good case that it’s related both to the language of at least some documents written in Linear A, and to Sumerian. Of course we don’t understand enough Linear A sentences to do statistics with, and Sumerian famously has SOV… which I suppose we could try to blame on Euphratic…

  204. David Marjanović says:

    (…on which check out the 10 occurrences of the word in this thread, and the links in it.)

  205. Trond Engen says:

    Norwegian has three or four competing genitives:

    Tronds hus (Regularized inherited; more literary than colloquial, but probably less so than it used to be)
    Trond sitt hus (Old but spreading; very common in speech but still frowned upon by some)
    Huset hans Trond (Old-fashioned and rural; correlating with the name article, han Trond)
    Huset til Trond (Quite common, introspectively the only alternative with complex subjects: det store, gamle huset til Trond)

    With pronouns, the possessive almost always comes after:
    Huset mitt, det store, gamle huset mitt

    … except in some set phrases like min far and min mor, which are common in at least high-register colloquials, And in Bergen, where it correlates with almost universal Trond sitt hus.

  206. David Marjanović says:

    til reminds me of the colloquial French usage of à instead of de.

    It doesn’t have a close analog in German, but the others do:

    Tronds Haus (the only option in the standard; but colloquial only in places where the genitive case has survived, and then apparently only when the possessor is a person)
    dem-Trond-sein Haus (the default in places where names take articles, but mostly when the possessor is personal and there’s grammatically only one possessor, as opposed to “A and B’s house”; strictly kept out of the standard, almost completely kept out of any kind of writing*, favorite enemy of prescriptivists)
    das Haus des ENGEN (might occur in police reports and a few other kinds of legal documents where people are referred to by last name only, but with the cases spelled out as articles – very weird)
    das Haus von/vom Trond (strictly kept out of the standard except for Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika; otherwise the default when the possessor is not a person, sometimes used with persons as well)

    AFAIK, the places where personal names take articles and the places where the genitive survives don’t overlap, so das Haus des Trond is probably not something anyone uses. Das Haus des Herrn Engen is an option, but absent various kinds of emphasis or topic-marking less common than Herrn Engens Haus.

    Postposed possessive pronouns are barely tolerated in archaizing poetry anymore. They’re endingless.

    The construction with dative and possessive brings us straight back to Hattic! Hattic put the possessor in the dative case, followed by the possessum with a possessive prefix.

    * Which is why I get away with adding the hyphens. I do that to indicate that I understand the construction as a unit, and the intonation matches that – it’s quite different from accidental sequences as in ich gebe (dem) Trond sein Haus zurück “I give Trond’s house back to him”. I’ve barely ever seen it written outside its most famous occurrence, the title Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod of a prescriptivist bestseller.

  207. Trond Engen says:

    David M.: The construction with dative and possessive brings us straight back to Hattic! Hattic put the possessor in the dative case, followed by the possessum with a possessive prefix.

    I’m not halfway through the Goedegebuure piece yet, but the examples so far are on the form

    Possessor-GEN possessive possessum

    This reminds of colloquial mergers of Norwegian type 1 and 2, Trond sitt can be parsed as Tronds sitt and give raise to e.g. vårt sitt “ours” and more jocular forms like mitt sitt, as well as Trondses sitt, with double marked genitive to resolve the perceived ambiguity Down the road you get the amusing quadruple possessive hennerses sitt.

    As Jespersen cyclists we assume that the periphrastic construction is younger than the morphological, in Hattic as well as in Germanic. This might indicate that Hattic went through a similar syntactic change, using a periphrastic construction to move the possessum behind the possessor, but with some contamination between the different constructions in the prosess.

  208. Trond Engen says:

    Me: hennerses

    It’s the old possessive hennar reinforced with genitive -s, double marking -es, and the reflexive 3p possessive sitt. I wrote it -er because synchronically, the unreinforced hennar has become a non-possessive oblique (henner or -ær) in the broad varieties of southeastern dialects, but the quadruple possessive is probably better shown as hennarses.

  209. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Contra Nw, Danish has the full-blown movable possessor marker -s that goes on complete noun phrases if it needs to, just like in English. (Minus the apostrophe, except when it does).

  210. AJP Crown says:

    Lars: Minus the apostrophe, except when it does.

    Seriously? What’s an example of when it does, please?

  211. Trond Engen says:

    We do the phrasal genitive too, with -s, -ses, or sitt, and you have to admit it’s clearer when clearly marked:

    Den gamle dama som samla på frimerker og hadde tre barnebarn i Belgia et sted før de flytta hjem på seinsommeren i fjor, og mora sa det var fordi hu ikke orka å forholde seg til fire forskjellige språk, men egentlig trur jeg bare ikke hu likte majones s(itt) hus.

    Thinking about it, the phrasal genitive may actually be a driving force behind the spread of the 3p reflexive construction.

  212. David Marjanović says:

    I’m not halfway through the Goedegebuure piece yet, but the examples so far are on the form

    Possessor-GEN possessive possessum

    That’s what the paper says most of the time… but check out footnote 29, which annotates a gloss as GEN:

    The ending -n is actually a marker of the oblique. Although it mostly marks the genitive, it is sometimes also found as a dative marker (Soysal 2004a: 195).

    Then, on p. 158, -n is said to be the genitive marker, but the next page calls it an oblique marker, and footnote 49, which annotates that claim, glosses it as GEN.

    I see no reason to postulate a separate genitive at all.

    (I wonder about the interpretation of example 6b, too.)

    Other fun facts found in the paper:
    1) zār “sheep”, zāriu “(hu?)man”;
    2) Hattic-speaking sheep make meme, a good argument against the presence of voiced plosives in the language;
    3) in Hattic and Palaic, |np| surfaced as /mp/ as you’d expect, but in Cuneiform Luwian it almost never did, and in Hittite never at all!

  213. Universal 2. In languages with prepositions, the genitive almost always follows the
    governing noun, while in languages with postpositions it almost always precedes

    Baltic is another language family with SVO and prepositions where the genitive precedes the governing noun. But here it has been explained as being due to Finnic substrate influence.

  214. PlasticPaddy says:

    Haptic sheep make meme. For me this is closer than baa-baa and I (think i) have the plosive.

  215. Stu Clayton says:

    Did Hittites dream of haptic sheep ?

  216. Trond Engen says:

    Both bæ(æ(æ)) and mæ(æ(æ)) are commonly used by Norwegian ovines, but the latter more by goats than sheep. Goats mekrer while sheep breker,

    @David M.: I saw footnote 29 just after the editing window closed, I still haven’t read much further, but I’ll note that genitive -> oblique is a possible development. OTOH, the “genitivus materiae” without added possessives, seems to be a partitive of sorts (“(out) of”). Thus, the double marking is necessary to define the set that the partitive picks from, like a heart of gold versus a friend of mine in English.

  217. David Eddyshaw says:

    Yiddish-speaking goats go “meh.” (Of course.)

    All together now:

    Yidl mitn fidl …

    http://yidlid.org/chansons/yidl/

  218. David Eddyshaw says:

    Part of Erasmus’ argument that the modern pronunciation of Greek could not faithfully reflect the Classical pronunciation was that one rarely hears sheep going Vi, vi.

  219. Stu Clayton says:

    I tried to watch the film scene via the youtube link there, but

    # Dieses Video ist aufgrund einer Beschwerde wegen Urheberrechtsverletzung durch The National Center for Jewish Film nicht mehr verfügbar. #

  220. AJP Crown says:

    Oh well, I guess Danish apostrophe-taking genitives are these:
    https://sproget.dk/raad-og-regler/typiske-problemer/genitiv-ejefald

    In short, apostrophes to get you out of an awkward combination of letters eg for words with an x, s or z ending (Max’s book > Max’ bog).

    Just ask me anything about dansk.

  221. Stu Clayton says:

    Danks, but no dansk. I wouldn’t understand the answer.

    The German way is pleasing to me, though old-fashioned: Maxens Buch.

  222. AJP Crown says:

    I wouldn’t understand the answer.
    Ah, my ideal client!

    I’ve mentioned before that Norwegian sheep have MUCH deeper voices than Norwegian (angora) goats, basses vs altos & tenors. Fact.

  223. David Eddyshaw says:

    Perhaps this might work

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTnpVkNwiFM

    Molly Picon!
    To get the flavour of the film scene, you just have to imagine them trundling through the Polish countryside in a cart waving at the peasantry.

  224. Here’s a nice summary history of Yiddish theater, with a good description of Molly Picon (and check out the photo of sassy Molly at the top left!). But this anecdote left me agape:

    In late 1939, [Nellie] Casman concluded a successful year-long European tour, fleeing by train from Berlin after a performance in that city. It was an experience she would vividly recall to the end of her life.

    What was a Jew doing performing in Berlin in late 1939??

  225. Stu Clayton says:

    @David: it does, thanks.

    The Yiddish title of a song by Ms. Picon is rendered in the German WiPe thus:

    Ikh Vil Es Hern Nokh Amol (Ich will es nochmals hören), 1946, in Ikh bin farlibt, Musical

    Without the context I would have guessed Inner Mongolian. What a strange-looking transcription.

  226. Have you never seen transliterated Yiddish before? It looks absolutely normal to me.

  227. Stu Clayton says:

    I have, including here, but I don’t remember such a thing as that. The “kh”s made me think of Akhnaton.

    I can understand many varieties of spoken Kölsch, but when I occasionally see a newspaper column written in one of them I can’t immediately read it. Different people use different transcription systems, and of course the varieties sound slightly different.

    I don’t read phonetically in practice, except when needed for unfamiliar words. Instead the sound of each word (in my mind) is associated with the word as a whole, as if with a Chinese glyph.

  228. Interesting. Maybe because of linguistics training, I easily disassociate script from sound — I have no trouble reading transliterated Russian, for instance (my brain doesn’t try to interpret it as Czech or something).

  229. Stu Clayton says:

    Of course it took me only a few seconds to recognize the system, by associating the words with German words. Thus I get what resembles a German dialect I’m not accustomed to.

  230. AJP Crown says:

    What was a Jew doing performing in Berlin in late 1939?
    Maybe she figured she was safe because she had an American passport.

  231. Stu Clayton says:

    She was American, born and bred.

    # Molly Picon, ursprünglich Małka Opiekun (geboren 1. Juni 1898 in New York City; gestorben 5. April 1992 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, jiddisch: מאָלי פּיקאָן), war eine populäre jüdische Schauspielerin in den USA. #

  232. I realize she was American. If I was an American Jew, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been playing Berlin concerts in 1939. But maybe she was one of those artistes who pay no attention to politics.

  233. Stu Clayton says:

    I was responding to Crown’s “Maybe she figured she was safe because she had an American passport.” If she had merely converted to Americanism as an adult, she would have a passport. In that case the nazis might have found it easier to give her a hard time, than if she were a born American with or without a passport (it might get lost or stolen ).

    The USA has recently deported a few people who were citizens-come-lately (not for that reason). Prisoners who had served out their time. Or so I have understood certain news items.

  234. Bathrobe says:

    She was American, born and bred.

    But Nellie Casman wasn’t. She was born in Russia (Proskurov) and moved to the U.S. as a child. (From her Wikipedia article, which mentions lots of overseas touring but not Berlin in 1939.)

  235. AJP Crown says:

    Yes, by “passport” I meant American born & bred. Sure, she must have been a bit worried, but there’s a hell of a big difference between Kristallnacht and the Shoah. The Berlin Jews hadn’t been sent East in 1939 and no one had a clue what was about to happen, not even the Nazis (the Wannsee Conference was Jan. 1942). I’m guessing that US citizens felt they would be protected by their government overseas; that citizenship trumped race in any discussion about who you were, in 1939. That might have caused a misunderstanding between Americans and German Nazis but as I say, no one knew etc.

  236. Trond Engen says:

    1939? There were lots of people, even Jewish, who refused to take the brutality of the Nazi regime seriously right up until the beginning of the war — or even beyond. There was also a lot of mumbling “The economy is doing well” and “They do have a point about the Jews from Russia.”

  237. AJP Crown says:

    Re my comment: see Jesse Owens, 1936.

  238. 1939? There were lots of people, even Jewish, who refused to take the brutality of the Nazi regime seriously right up until the beginning of the war — or even beyond.

    You’re right, of course. It’s really hard to remember that, or to look at that particular time and place without benefit of hindsight.

  239. Both bæ(æ(æ)) and mæ(æ(æ)) are commonly used by Norwegian ovines, but the latter more by goats than sheep. Goats mekrer while sheep breker,

    Ovines, you say? In Russian “бекать и мекать” means “mumble and bumble”

  240. Trond Engen says:

    бекать и мекать

    Bekanye and mekanye. Bekavian and Mekavian. Belarus and Melarus.

  241. John Cowan says:

    Apparently not a single American died a truly unnatural death in the Holocaust, though about 350 American POWs were sent to Buchenwald for being Jewish, looking Jewish, or being troublesome prisoners. About a fourth of these died of disease and/or overwork, but none, as far as I can tell, were shot or gassed.

    A group of 168 Allied airmen were held at Buchenwald in 1944, but were transferred to a regular POW camp a few weeks before they would have been executed; they were considered war criminals rather than POWs.

  242. Mayuresh Madhav Kelkar says:

    Linguistic, textual, genetic and archaeological evidence for the Out of India Theory of Indo European Languages
    Baghpat Chariots, Weapons and the Horse in the Harappan Civilization – Dr. BK Manjul
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZvKpjjTpgg&t=1514s

    Findings from the latest genetic study conducted by ASI in collaboration withe Reich Lab at Harvard using the ancient DNA from Rakhigarhi

    slides at 29:00 mark

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dio3Ep0nlv4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4WFk0iEK5k

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0Lg1b_8N54&t=2311s

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wIu3dUsmtY

    Here are the tribes that spread the Indo European languages from South Asia to West Asia, Central Asia and to Europe

    Avestan) Afghanistan: Proto-Iranian: Sairima (Śimyu), Dahi (Dāsa).
    NE Afghanistan: Proto-Iranian: Nuristani/Piśācin (Viṣāṇin).
    Pakhtoonistan (NW Pakistan), South Afghanistan: Iranian: Pakhtoon/Pashtu (Paktha).
    Baluchistan (SW Pakistan), SE Iran: Iranian: Bolan/Baluchi (Bhalāna).
    NE Iran: Iranian: Parthian/Parthava (Pṛthu/Pārthava).
    SW Iran: Iranian: Parsua/Persian (Parśu/Parśava).
    NW Iran: Iranian: Madai/Mede (Madra).
    Uzbekistan: Iranian: Khiva/Khwarezmian (Śiva).
    W. Turkmenistan: Iranian: Dahae (Dāsa).
    Ukraine, S, Russia: Iranian: Alan (Alina), Sarmatian (Śimyu).
    Turkey: Thraco-Phrygian/Armenian: Phryge/Phrygian (Bhṛgu).
    Romania, Bulgaria: Thraco-Phrygian/Armenian: Dacian (Dāsa).
    Greece: Greek: Hellene (Alina).
    Albania: Albanian: Sirmio (Śimyu).

    Shrikant Gangadhar Talageri

    https://talageri.blogspot.com/2020/03/the-rigveda-and-aryan-theory-rational_27.html

    Five waves of Indo-European expansion: a preliminary model (2018)
    Igor A Tonoyan-Belyayev
    I. Tonoyan-Belyayev

    https://www.academia.edu/36998766/Five_waves_of_Indo-European_expansion_a_preliminary_model_2018_

  243. John Cowan says:

    Apparently not a single American died a truly unnatural death in the Holocaust

    I’ve found an exception: Eddy Hamel, one of four Jewish players for Ajax (there has been a fifth since), was sent to Birkenau as a Jew despite being also an American citizen by birth. He developed a severe mouth abscess and was sent to Auschwitz and gassed. The others survived in hiding or by hiding in plain sight.

    Ajax fans are called Joden ‘Jews’, and have been since the 1930s; Amsterdam was traditionally a safe haven for Jews, as we discussed in 2013. Since about 2000, Ajax has tried to discourage this connection (which extends to waving Israeli flags) because of what it provokes from opposing fans.

  244. AJP Crown says:

    The Oxford English Dictionary has changed its definition of the word Yid to include a “supporter of or player for Tottenham Hotspur”.

    Tottenham’s “WE ARE THE YIDS” upsets some* liberal types:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51479810

    *Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard said the word was “not controversial among many of the Jewish Spurs supporters, such as myself, who are proud to be Yiddos”.

  245. @AJP Crown: The OED also says: “Originally and frequently derogatory and offensive, though also often as a self-designation.”

    The first quote for the new sense (although not actually an instance of that sense; the entry describes it as “show[ing] a contextual use of sense 1”) sounds pretty nasty:

    1975 New Rev. Feb. 50/2 Bring on Tottenham or the Arsenal, Bring on spastics by the score, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Tottenham are a load of Yids.

  246. I’m quite sure AJP knows it’s originally and frequently derogatory and offensive. He’s pointing out that despite that, many Jewish Spurs supporters are happy to use the term. There’s room in this capacious world for both truths.

  247. Similarly, many Native Americans object neither to the term “Indians” nor to the name Washington Redskins, which similarly upsets some liberal types. It’s a messier world than many people are comfortable with.

  248. SFReader says:

    Native American Reservations should form their own professional football teams and give them suitable names like Pine Ridge Palefaces…

  249. AJP Crown says:

    Obviously it was originally used offensively by supporters of other clubs.

    Bring on spastics by the score, Tottenham are a load of Yids.
    If you think that’s bad, then read this article in the JC. Also it gives some background and more subtlety to both sides of the argument. (I’m on the ‘free speech’ side.)

    https://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/features/how-tottenham-became-the-jewish-football-team-1.53784

  250. I’m on the ‘free speech’ side.

    Me too, but then I would be, wouldn’t I. I deplore the current tendency among bien-pensant progressives to view free speech as a tool of oppression.

  251. Stu Clayton says:

    What current tendency is that ?? Looks like my indifference to staying au courant is paying off.

  252. It sure is. Stay out of them thar swamps. (Summary: free speech means free speech for fascists which means if you support it you’re a fascist, you fascist.)

  253. Stu Clayton says:

    Oh, that old number. Buncha snowflake pussies. [I hope that’s the right vocab]

  254. ə de vivre says:

    I deplore the current tendency among bien-pensant progressives to view free speech as a tool of oppression.
    More nuanced opinions about free speech might be more popular among leftists since the advent of social media and the ability to publish one’s speech for free, but I think a large part of the shift is that “free speech” has been co-opted by the radical right. Whatever value “free speech” as a concept may or may not have, in the current context, “free speech” as a phrase is too often a tool of oppression—in the sense that it is very effective tool for protecting white nationalists, but not a very effective tool for protecting the kinds of people they target.

  255. I think a large part of the shift is that “free speech” has been co-opted by the radical right.

    Yes, absolutely, but it’s only “co-opted” if you let it be. The leftie response is as childish as saying “the radical right takes baths, so I won’t.” And the point of free speech isn’t to be an effective tool for protecting anybody, it’s one of the basic foundations of a livable life. Those who don’t understand that have no idea what it is to have it denied.

  256. “Being asked what was the most beautiful thing in the world, [Diogenes] replied, ‘Freedom of speech.’”

  257. ə de vivre says:

    the point of free speech isn’t to be an effective tool for protecting anybody, it’s one of the basic foundations of a livable life.

    I think this is maybe the disconnect between free-speech relativists and absolutists: The bien-pensant leftists are more prone to emphasize that speech is an action and that actions have consequences. I think current progressives are disillusioned with using the phrase “free speech” as a rallying cry because they see it used to defend the powerful while people who actually have challenging ideas fail to receive the same free speech protections.

    Free speech may be a fundamental right, but so is personal safety. Leftists often believe in some kind of right to equality, but what this equality means is still up for grabs. But it’s exactly that negotiation that’s in play when people question what concessions to the value of freedom of expression are acceptable in pursuit of the value of a public sphere that doesn’t exclude people based on gender or race, for example.

    Diogenes lived in an amphora and masturbated in public. He’s maybe not a model to emulate.

  258. I think current progressives are disillusioned with using the phrase “free speech” as a rallying cry because they see it used to defend the powerful while people who actually have challenging ideas fail to receive the same free speech protections.

    Sure, I completely understand that, and it’s infuriating. But that has nothing to do with free speech as such, it’s a consequence of the general principle that everything gets used to defend the powerful. The first beneficiaries of hate crime laws were white males, if I recall correctly. It’s not enough to have good ideas, you have to think through the consequences of their implementation and watch like a hawk as they get put into practice, and be prepared to fight. There ain’t no royal road to a better future.

  259. But it’s so much easier to posture. I see people saying that because the NY Times runs op-ed pieces by conservatives, it’s a fascist paper and nobody should read it/ link to it/ use it as a source of news. Anything that’s not Jacobin is fascist. It makes me tired, I tell you.

  260. I am also a free speech absolutist, to the extent such a thing a feasible. I generally disagree with laws against slander and so-called “fighting words.” I think it is correspondingly incumbent on me, since I do not believe in restraining odious and problematic speech, to point out the problems raised by such speech when I encounter it. I do not have much faith in the “marketplace of ideas” weeding out the dreck in our public discourse, but I nonetheless do not see a more productive way of dealing with bad ideas than by offering better ideas to take their place.

  261. Same here.

  262. David Eddyshaw says:

    I think that would be all very well if speech were in fact, “free”; but a world in which Fox News and the Daily Mail exist and largely set the news agenda is a world in which speech may indeed be “free as in speech”, but is most certainly not “free as in beer.” I would say that is a big problem. Oligarchs’ money is paying to decide what the “truth” is for voters. just as they shovel money directly to the parties they want to keep in power. The “marketplace” in ideas has been thoroughly subverted; these people are experts in rigging markets. That’s what they do: it’s where their money comes from, after all. Rent-seeking.

    It is significant that the IT monopolies have evidently no intention of doing anything substantive about this. Their reaction has been almost entirely cosmetic. The status quo suits them fine.

    The American belief in more-or-less absolute “free speech” is in many ways admirable; but the belief itself blinds people to the real threats, by providing false reassurance.

  263. No, like many people (probably most these days) you are equating free speech with letting bad guys run wild and do whatever they want. I hope you change your mind one of these days.

  264. And I will point out (again) that any restrictions on speech will be first and foremost applied by the bad guys to everyone else. That’s how the world works.

  265. John Cowanx says:

    Perhaps Tottenham (the district) should now be known as “Mokum Tes”.

    Apparently the Totta who founded this Tottenham and the one who founded Tottenham Court (which the Tottenham Court Road borders) were distinct. Totta is a hypocoristic for Thorste(i)n, by the way, and as such is a doublet of Dustin.

  266. David Eddyshaw says:

    There is gross inequality of power among those doing the free speaking. One side has a megaphone for their free speech. Another, not so much. Refugee children separated from their families pour décourager les autres are doubtless greatly comforted by their right to free speech. No doubt those rejoicing in this separation include some very fine people. Or at least, the powerful must be allowed to say so.

    Where there is great difference in power, free speech itself becomes a weapon for the powerful to oppress the weak, whose voices are also weak. It’s because of this (surely true) fact that progressives get edgy about it, and sometimes express themselves stupidly on the subject. Very often indeed, however, the alleged progressive response is itself misrepresented or outright concocted by the powerful. In the UK there is a whole cottage industry in the right-wing press devoted to stories about horrid intolerant undergraduates. The Times (no less) effectively doxxed a student leader with a big photograph on their front page and an almost entirely spurious story along these lines about a year ago.

  267. And I will point out (again) that any restrictions on speech will be first and foremost applied by the bad guys to everyone else. That’s how the world works.

    Navigate me through this bit of au courrant. Senator Al Franken got bundled out by the (presumably) “bien-pensant progressives” for what looked like a stupid prank/youthful indiscretion a long time ago, in another age. Is/was Franken a “bad guy”? His main crime seemed to be getting caught on camera. Are the Democrat hierarchy “bad guys”? (I’m not asking your opinion on Franken’s worth as a Senator vs whether he was a pompous blowhard, nor on his worth as allegedly a comic in that other age.)

    Trump makes frequent misogynistic, racist remarks; has an affair (alleged) with a porn star; gets caught on mic a not-so-long time ago with dreadful remarks. Yet he’s beloved of the Religious Right (including Mike Pence), who are not in general the ‘radical’ Right advocating for free speech.

    Trump is now being allowed to belch forth ignorance at his interminable COVID-19 press conferences, with people who actually know far better standing around, at a well less than social distance. Irrespective of a citizen’s ‘free speech’ rights to an opinion on the virus, anybody spreading that level of misinformation IMO should be arrested as endangering public health.

    Free speech advocates have always (at least outside USA) placed limits on speech that’s incitement to violence, more recently added incitement to racial hatred. I now see in the internet age that’s outdated and unenforceable; and relied on a notion of political/social consensus to distinguish what oversteps the limits.

    Does the ‘free speech’ argument (and the voting down of impeachment) mean Trump can go on saying just anything whatsoever? And how about the ‘dark web’ of racists that ‘politicised’ a guy in New Zealand to go into two mosques, crowded at prayer time, in my City and let off semi-automatic weapons at random?

    The way CNN puts it: ‘free speech’ gives you a right to your own opinion; not a right to your own facts. Clearly Trump has (always had) a congenital inability to tell the two apart.

  268. John Cowan says:

    Free speech advocates have always (at least outside USA) placed limits on speech that’s incitement to violence

    Certainly. That bridges the gap between words and deeds: incitement consists of words that are themselves deeds. You’ll get no disagreement from U.S. civil libertarians (not to be confused with U.S. libertarians) on that point.

    Does the ‘free speech’ argument (and the voting down of impeachment) mean Trump can go on saying just anything whatsoever?

    Why yes, he can. The impeachment was essentially political posturing, as it always has been (with the exception of Nixon, who resigned in the face of certain impeachment and conviction). And Trump has a bully pulpit because others give him one. TV screens are not Orwellian telescreens, and when Trump appears on my screen and starts to talk about anything whatsoever, I turn him off.

  269. In the good old US of A this free speech discussion is mainly about college campus speech codes (if anyone is interested in my opinion, there should be as little as possible). No one seriously attacking the right of F. News to broadcast whatever they want. (Far) Left’s periodic bouts of infighting about who is more PC is largely unknown outside their circle.

    There were plenty of stories about children in cages and I really cannot see how power inequities were suppressing those stories.

    Where there is great difference in power, free speech itself becomes a weapon for the powerful to oppress the weak, whose voices are also weak.
    Not so. Where there is great difference in power, powerful will find a way to oppress the weak no matter what. Power by definition is the ability to suppress less powerful. Free speech allows “the weak” not to be jailed when they talk back.

  270. David Eddyshaw says:

    Speech does not have to be an actual incitement to violence to do harm. For example, consistently calumniating immigrants as rapists, criminals and scroungers will do the trick. It will create a climate of opinion in which separating the human-scum children from their human-scum families will seem really quite acceptable. All this has happened before …

    I say: Free speech for whom? As good Americans, you presumably say: Free speech for everyone. That is indeed a noble aspiration (and I really mean this.) But having a noble aspiration is not enough. It makes nothing happen. Meaningful exercise of free speech depends on power. It’s not enough to be audible. People have to listen. And while the dialogue is dominated by the liars, the harm will continue to happen.

    I don’t at all mean that free speech is unimportant, nor do I at all mean to disparage the remarkable and wonderful American fidelity to it. But I think that not seeing it as at all problematic is extremely naive.

  271. Where there is great difference in power, powerful will find a way to oppress the weak no matter what. Power by definition is the ability to suppress less powerful. Free speech allows “the weak” not to be jailed when they talk back.

    Thank you. That is exactly right.

    Meaningful exercise of free speech depends on power. It’s not enough to be audible. People have to listen.

    You can’t make people listen. You can, however, prevent them from speaking, and boy do people itch to do that.

  272. David Eddyshaw says:

    You can’t make people listen.

    Yes, you can. That is the entire point of Fox News. And you don’t have to make all the people listen. Just enough.

    You don’t have to prevent people from speaking if you can be sure that nobody is listening. And you can congratulate yourself on not infringing on their freedom of speech too!

  273. January First-of-May says:
  274. David, I think you are seriously overestimating the power of F.N.

    Freedom of speech is the beginning, not the end. You have to convince people to listen to you, just like your opponents have to convince people to listen to them. You have to have some water if you want to swim, but it would be silly to claim that you are an excellent swimmer because there is a river nearby.

  275. Today’s XKCD is a tribute to John Conway, mathematician/inventor of the simulation ‘Life’.

    That means there’s now three obscure-but-known-in-their-fields people in fields I don’t hugely follow whose death has been attributed to COVID-19 in the past few days: Conway; Tim Brooke-Taylor of ‘The Goodies’ and ‘I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue’; Ellis Marsalis, Jazz cat father of Wynton and Brandon.

    In the interests of free speech I try to listen to those who think the lockdown is a ‘big business’ beat-up/going to cause huge disruption that isn’t ‘worth it’, or will itself be the cause of deaths longer term; and that COVID-19 is no worse than the seasonal flu — deaths to be regretted, but are really nothing unusual/get over it. I find it hugely unlikely three such obscure people in different countries would die of the same disease within a few days.

    I think such free speech should go fuck itself. None of the people I’ve come across with those opinions are any sort of epidemiologists, although there is a nutbag in Germany they quote. These particular free-speakers should be locked up in crowded ICE detention centres (or a U.S. privately-run jail), and the asylum-seeking kids and their families released before the virus sweeps amongst those double-victims.

  276. overestimating the power of F.N.

    Remember Trump lost the popular vote; remember also that the turnout was barely 50%. Remember the daft Electoral College; and the daft two Senators per State, irrespective of that State’s population. By my calculation, Fox News only needs to reach about 23% of voters to keep the Republicans in power.

    And really all F.N. has to do is enough to stop them tuning in to another channel. I guess a regular watcher of F.N. will be so revolted by MSNBC’s coverage, they’ll shoot straight back home. Just as I am revolted by F.N.’s coverage. (Guardian reader and CNN-watcher here. I find MSNBC’s coverage so intemperate/biased as to be also revolted by it.)

  277. But I think that not seeing it as at all problematic is extremely naive.

    Please do me the courtesy of not assuming I’m either ignorant or an idiot. I’m aware of all the arguments, and I’m aware that free speech, like everything human, is problematic. Being problematic is a condition of life on earth, not a knockdown argument.

    I think such free speech should go fuck itself.

    Yes, if you just muzzle everyone who disagrees with you, the world will be a beautiful place. Talk about naive.

  278. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    This discussion reminds me of what Scott Alexander said:

    The nightmare scenario is that “free speech” goes the way of “family values” – a seemingly uncontroversial concept gets so tarnished by its association with unpopular/conservative ideas that it becomes impossible to mention or invoke in polite company without outing yourself as some kind of far-right weirdo. Right now I think we’re on that path.

  279. Yup. But as an anarchist, I’m used to having unpopular ideas.

  280. And I must say, it’s a pleasure to be able to discuss them with people who won’t start flinging insults and/or stalking off in a huff. Y’all are good folks.

  281. David Eddyshaw says:

    Please do me the courtesy of not assuming I’m either ignorant or an idiot.

    Gladly. I was attributing the said naivety to that convenient fellow, Straw Man (I think he does post here sometimes. From internal evidence, I think he’s from Yerevan.)

  282. Ah yes, him!
    *gives Straw Man a kick*

  283. That means there’s now three obscure-but-known-in-their-fields people in fields I don’t hugely follow whose death has been attributed to COVID-19 in the past few days:

    Add Adam Schlesinger, an incredibly talented songwriter, dead at 52. Semi-famous as a member of the alt-rock group Fountains of Wayne but very well known in the LA/NYC world of people who compose pop songs for a living.

  284. AJP Crown says:

    the power of F.N.
    I think of FN as the United Nations so I googled and I’m glad to see there’s no sign of Fox or their so-called news. I must be the last person to notice (apart from Stu, of course) that nowadays when something’s mentioned it’s thereafter repeated as initials – probably to make texting is less laborious. It turns out there’s an arms manufacturer called FN-something that makes American handguns, they’re the google FN champions.

  285. Yes, if you just muzzle everyone who disagrees with you, the world will be a beautiful place. Talk about naive.

    I was wanting to muzzle people who claim to know more about epidemics than epidemiologists. Specifically, Peter Hitchens (brother of Christopher, but otherwise politically unrelated) opined about 3 weeks ago (so before Boris got taken poorly) that what the ‘ists were producing are “only models” — as if we should reject the whole science as fake. And did he have any different crystal ball? No. Apparently only the same source of “intuition” Trump relies on.

    Actually, the ‘ists have been pretty accurate: COVID-19 is on track to cause far more deaths than seasonal flu does in a season, even accepting the inconsistencies and bias in collecting statistics.

    So I take it Hat’s free speech will welcome with open arms those who come here to peeve and peddle cod theories of language origins (we got one earlier on this thread), in complete denial of Linguistics? I suppose they should be better tolerated: at least they aren’t killing people. If we’re ‘allowed’ to limit speech for inciting violence/murder, we can limit speech for endangering public health.

  286. AJP Crown says:

    I’ll add the great & lovely Michael Sorkin who was unafraid of anyone, no matter how powerful or influential; a damn good writer too (both are qualities that are almost unknown elsewhere in architecture).

  287. So I take it Hat’s free speech will welcome with open arms those who come here to peeve and peddle cod theories of language origins (we got one earlier on this thread), in complete denial of Linguistics?

    Yup. People correct them, and sometimes they learn something. The cure for speech is more speech.

  288. And in general (I might as well put this here, so I can cite it later as needed) I like the progressivism of the big tent, the progressivism that says yes, not the progressivism of the litmus test and the suspicious glare, the progressivism that says no. I welcome anyone who wants to make things better for the people who are kept down and shut out, the people who work hard for too little, and of course anyone discriminated against for reasons of gender, color, religion, and the other shibboleths. (I note with dismay that too many soi-disant progressives these days seem to have less concern about anti-Semitism than the other bad isms.) I like Emma Goldman’s “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution,” not Lenin’s “If you don’t agree with every element of my program and follow my orders unquestioningly, I will destroy you” (not an actual quote, but a fair summary of his attitude). It was Communists treating non-Communist leftists as “social fascists” and concentrating their attacks on them rather than the Nazis that brought us Hitler. Today’s left is so focused on driving away anyone who shows the least taint of racism, sexism, or a failure to keep up with the latest line on trans people that it will never be able to change the world except by bloody revolution (which too many leftists have romantic fantasies about). When pressed on the theory, they’ll say “We’re all racists and sexists,” but they don’t really believe it. I believe it; I was raised, as we all were, in a racist and sexist society, and when I find myself, say, reacting to a woman’s voice on the radio differently than I would to a man’s, I don’t flagellate myself and sign myself up for sensitivity training, I shrug wryly and carry on. I’ve gotten a lot better over the decades (I became a progressive in 1967 and delivered a fiery high school graduation speech the next year attacking America over civil rights and the Vietnam War), but I’ll never be perfect and neither will anyone else. You either accept that and welcome like-minded but imperfect people to the tent or reject it and become an unpleasant ideologue. Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders.

  289. Well said, sir! Are you by any chance thinking of running for President this year? I will happily contribute $25 to your campaign.

  290. Very well said!

  291. Ooh, good idea! And when I win, I’ll triumphantly declare that both the government and the nation-state are dissolved and everyone is free to form communes of their own choosing.

  292. AJP Crown says:

    All your comments in this thread have been extremely well said, Language.

  293. That’s why they call me Language.

  294. You could indeed do that because, as we learned yesterday, the president’s authority is absolute!

  295. Exactly!

  296. David Eddyshaw says:

    (Eppur si muove.)
    [Sotto voce.]

  297. Lars Mathiesen says:

    So I got the new Danish translation of Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo for my sixtieth birthday and by page four of the preface I had spotted two grave linguistic errors. I hope it’s because nobody copy-edited that text (by the University of Copenhagen Professor of Public Understanding of the Natural Sciences and Technology, no less, so who would dare?) and the translation itself has fewer such distracting features. Time will tell.

  298. John Cowan says:

    I agree: well said. But I’d also say that the left you’re criticizing is the noisy left, just as the alt-right is the noisy rather than the majority right.

    Most of the time, the problem isn’t authority in the abstract; it’s authoritarians — people who identify with authority and want to use it to enforce conformity, and who follow their own leaders no matter what bizarre and sociopathic directions they take. These people are trouble when they take over churches or political parties or corporations. Evil leaders could do little if they weren’t backed by a crowd that follows them blindly.. —Mark Rosenfelder

  299. Stu Clayton says:

    No leader can do much if he (or she!) is not backed by a crowd that supports “them” (“follows them blindly” is a spiteful contentious qualification of no cognitive import).

    Trump is merely an ignorant jerk, the problem is that he’s supported by a rather large number of ignorant jerks with 20-20 vision. And so, things being thus at the present time, even Mother Theresa wouldn’t get a look-in as president.

    Many years ago, Crown presciently advocated Government By Goat.

  300. Trond Engen says:

    Mother Theresa was arguably a jerk, ignorant or otherwise.

    (These days few saints survive their own beatification.)

  301. PlasticPaddy says:

    @trond
    This was also said about Albert Schweitzer. I think single minded individuals focus on a purpose and not on making the people around them feel good or even buy in to the purpose or the chosen means of achieving it. They also, sometimes deliberately, avoid looking at “the bigger picture” or fail to realise the world has changed (perhaps even as a result of their past actions), but I do not know how to assign a weight to these criticisms. People are still undecided about Jesus after more than 2000 years.

  302. David Eddyshaw says:

    Most saints are jerks. It goes with the territory. It’s also a comfort for those of us unlikely ever to be regarded as saints.

    However, most jerks are not saints. Other qualities are required in addition.

    Goats are not regarded as potential candidates for sainthood in most mainstream Christian traditions. We probably all have our own views about that.

  303. AJP Crown says:

    Yes, I advocated preciently a goat head of state but I’m thinking of a UK figurehead setup not the divine right of Trump.

  304. SFReader says:

    Do you know who is the current King of Poland?

    Jesus Christ.

    There was even an official enthronement ceremony.

    Beats your goat hands down.

  305. AJP Crown says:

    On Jesus, choosing a dead head of state is dangerous. Countries might end up being ruled for a thousand years by Baldwin the Bearded and Hereward the Wake and never resolve the Norman conquest. It should only be tried in exceptional cases such as when among 300m citizens literally the only suitable candidates are found by an exhaustive elimination process to be two rich white guys in their mid-to-late 70s.

  306. But I’d also say that the left you’re criticizing is the noisy left

    Well, duh. They’re the problem. I’m part of the left, why would I criticize it in toto?

    Many years ago, Crown presciently advocated Government By Goat.

    And now we all wish we’d paid attention.

    Beats your goat hands down.

    Hell no! Goat, not god!

  307. On Jesus, choosing a dead head of state is dangerous.

    He was officially alive Sunday.

  308. If your head of state keeps popping in and out of existence it makes it hard to keep government functioning smoothly.

  309. I just opened my beloved Black Sparrow edition of Paul Blackburn’s Early Selected y Mas and I swear to god it fell open at Cabras:

    To sing the democratic man today
    or the marxist man, for that,
    is no proposition.
    So I sing goats.

  310. Oops, the link didn’t work. You have to go to page 7 of the issue (which involves right-scrolling; what a terrible interface).

  311. And I just opened Alison Fell’s Dreams, like Heretics to “The Mistresses”:

    Welsh winter: jealous goats
    butt to be petted.

    I’ve been infested with goats. Thanks, AJP.

  312. AJP Crown says:

    Is it
    Vote Goat!
    or
    Vote, Goat!
    No, wait, that’s The impotence of punctuation.

  313. I have always believed that the word ‘capricious’ comes from goats, which may or may not be a good thing in terms of goatocracy, but this source suggests an alternative, that it derives from Italian capo and riccio, the latter being the word for ‘hedgehog’ and also meaning, of hair, curled or frizzy. (The urchin/hedgehog business was discussed here some while back, I think). But this raises two questions:

    1. How can anyone who sees a hedgehog describe it as being curly or frizzy?
    2. Which is the better model for governance, goat society or hedgehog society?

  314. David Eddyshaw says:

    There is always Isaiah Berlin’s famous essay The Hedgehog and the Goat.
    (“The hedgehog knows one important thing, the goat, not so much.”)

  315. Goddammit, I opened my Saint-John Perse collection and found “Le parasol de chèvre” (The Goat Umbrella):
    Il est dans l’odeur grise de poussière, dans la soupente du grenier. Il est sous une table à trois pieds; c’est entre la caisse où il y a du sable pour la chatte et le fût décerclé où s’entasse la plume.
    Will no one rid me of these troublesome goats?

    Edit: Is “la caisse où il y a du sable pour la chatte” a litterbox??

  316. Which is the better model for governance, goat society or hedgehog society?

    I’d suggest government by horses, but that would be hippocracy.

  317. David Eddyshaw says:

    At least they’d swear to do no intentional harm when they come to your house.

  318. Trond Engen says:

    goat society or hedgehog society?

    A choice between tragic and hysteric.

  319. AJP Crown says:

    “The hedgehog knows one big mistake” – Goats in the machine.

  320. Stu Clayton says:

    Crown really knows how to ryle a crowd.

  321. AJP Crown says:

    Gilbert Ryle was known for his party trick, at The Trout in Wolvercote, of downing a pint of bitter in one gulp. And now I can’t think where I read that. It wasn’t here

  322. David Marjanović says:

    Similarly, many Native Americans object neither to the term “Indians” nor to the name Washington Redskins, which similarly upsets some liberal types. It’s a messier world than many people are comfortable with.

    Sure, but there seem to be many more who are fine with “Indian”, indeed even prefer the term (“Native” having its own baggage), than those who are fine with the Washington Redskins.

    Totta is a hypocoristic for Thorste(i)n

    And for Torhthelm and who knows what else.

    In the UK there is a whole cottage industry in the right-wing press devoted to stories about horrid intolerant undergraduates. The Times (no less) effectively doxxed a student leader with a big photograph on their front page and an almost entirely spurious story along these lines about a year ago.

    So many frozen peaches.

    Senator Al Franken got bundled out by the (presumably) “bien-pensant progressives” for what looked like a stupid prank/youthful indiscretion a long time ago, in another age.

    Oh, that was just what got the ball rolling.

    But while it was coming out that that was just a Republican hit job to prevent Franken from becoming president next year, it also came out that Franken had randomly grabbed a large number of women’s behinds at Minnesota state fairs and such, some of them attached to people who had voted for him and had hoped to do so again.

    Don’t ask me what an appropriate consequence for this could be. But Gillibrand sacrificing herself to get him to resign just about immediately is probably what gave the Democrats that Senate seat in Alabama: it quite brutally robbed the Republicans of the ability to say “sure, Roy Moore kept trying to date teenagers, but the Democrats (as a monolith) aren’t all perfect either”.

    1. How can anyone who sees a hedgehog describe it as being curly or frizzy?

    Hair standing off in all directions = spikey?

    Edit: Is “la caisse où il y a du sable pour la chatte” a litterbox??

    Sure. The parallel construction with “le fût décerclé où s’entasse la plume” looks intentional.

    A choice between tragic and hysteric.

    I see what you did there.

  323. Sure, but there seem to be many more who are fine with “Indian”[…] than those who are fine with the Washington Redskins.

    Maybe? But I saw a poll result a while back that had a large majority being fine with “Redskins”; I don’t remember the exact number or where I saw it, but it overturned my bien-pensant preconceptions. My conclusion is not “Ha ha, libtards, you lose!” but, as I said, that things are complicated.

    Sure. The parallel construction with “le fût décerclé où s’entasse la plume” looks intentional.

    Sure, it’s just that one doesn’t expect to encounter a litterbox in the middle of Grand Poetry (it’s hard to think of a Grander Poet than Perse). We’re trying to decide what litter to switch to now; the one we’ve been using gets bits of litter-dust tracked all over.

    I see what you did there.

    I didn’t know about Hystrix!

  324. John Cowan says:

    Mother Theresa was arguably a jerk

    The problem with her (as I understand it) is not that she was a jerk, but that she got money under the false pretense of being concerned with the welfare of the absolutely poor in this life, whereas her sole concern was their destiny in the next life. And if she didn’t actually help them reach the Particular Judgment, she quite systematically did nothing to prevent it.

    Do you know who is the current King of Poland?

    No, but I know that the current King of France is bald, or not bald, whichever.

    choosing a dead head of state is dangerous

    Oh, I don’t know. Fifteen or twenty millennia hence, the planet Old North Australia (or Norstrilia) is still ruled by Her Absent Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. As they themselves put it: “‘She bloody well might turn up one of these days. Who knows? This is Old North Australia out here among the stars and we can dashed well wait for our own Queen.’ She might have been off on a trip when Old Earth went sour.” Meanwhile, what government there is consists of the Temporary Commonwealth Government, headed by a Vice-Chairman.

    In sober history, the Bratslaver Hasidim have had no rebbe since 1810, when their founder Nachman of Breslov died, and they are sometimes called the dead hasidim or the hasidim of the Dead in English. Similarly, the guru of the Sikhs has been their sacred text ever since the death of Guru Govind Singh, the last of a line of ten human gurus, in 1708; it is now called the Guru Granth Sahib.

    And for Torhthelm and who knows what else.

    Ah yes, “The Homecoming of Bejesus Bejohnson, or, Dead Without a Head”.

    “sure, Roy Moore kept trying to date teenagers […]

    “… but at least he doesn’t abet baby murderers.”

  325. How about histrionicus histrionicus?:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlequin_duck

  326. David Marjanović says:

    “… but at least he doesn’t abet baby murderers.”

    Well, they tried that one, but on its own it wasn’t enough, and that’s not very surprising.

    How about

    Crash bandicoot for instance.

  327. We’re trying to decide what litter to switch to now

    Beware! In my experience, cats can have strong opinions on what is acceptable and what is not.

    Or maybe they just take the changing of the litter as an opportunity to be bloody-minded jerks, as befits their noble character.

  328. North Korea has a dead head of state.

  329. We had luck with the switch slowly technique – mixing new and old litter in gradually changing concentrations.

  330. That’s what we’ve been advised to do.

  331. I don’t know if this has been mentioned anywhere on LH, but I’m putting it here because it looks like fun:

    Reasons why present-day Indo-Europeanists are crooks: Solving the issue of the Indo-European homeland by Arnaud Fournet.

    His position is that Indo-Europeanists are still basically focussed on an old model that effectively ignores Hittite and Tocharian. His preferred name is Indo-Hittite and the Indo-European homeland is in Syria.

  332. David Eddyshaw says:

    We’ve come across this bod before, in the context of LInear A.
    He’s the one who thinks everything (including Indo-European) is descended from Hurrian.

    http://languagehat.com/solving-linear-a/#comment-3832545

  333. We’ve come across this bod before, …

    Is this bod an accredited academic of some sort? Or is he a “French Linguist” in the same sense Edo Nyland was a “Basque Linguist”?

    Fournet seems to be unremittingly insulting to Indo-Europeanists: “crooks”, “frauds”, “Can you believe it?”, “flea market crooks” (with illustration of a typical con, presumably for the benefit of those who’ve never been to a flea market).

    How to lose friends and influence nobody?

    Whether or not there might be a smidgen of sense to some of the claims, the tone seems to be going out of its way to not be taken seriously.

  334. David Eddyshaw says:

    He’s a crackpot, certainly*; I don’t know about his academic affiliations. I can’t find any record of any. This paper is rather less off the wall than some of his productions, of which there are a great number online. He’s an extremely productive crackpot. He seems to have a gift for self-publicity, too: a BBC artlcle on Pictish (no less) cites him as “a French linguist.”

    Alexei Kassian’s review of AF’s work with Allan Bomhard is remarkably measured, considering (Kassian being a genuine expert in such matters.)

    https://www.academia.edu/345706/Review_of_The_Indo_European_Elements_in_Hurrian_by_Arnaud_Fournet_and_Allan_R_Bomhard_2010_

    *You don’t need to take my word for it: just google his name. Etruscan is also Hurrian (of course), along with Linear A, the Phaistos Disk … and Indo-European (yes, really.)

  335. David Eddyshaw says:

    (Not, of course, that “crackpot” is synonymous with “not an accredited academic”; there are non-crackpots doing sound work outside universities, and – alas – tenured crackpot professors polluting the infosphere on a salary. A Venn diagram beckons.)

  336. January First-of-May says:

    “Indo-Hittite” previously on LH.

    TL/DR is that the term fell out of favor when Anatolian was no longer considered the first branch out from the rest of IE, and didn’t come back even when it turned out it probably was the first branch after all.

  337. PlasticPaddy says:
  338. AJP Crown says:

    DE: “not an accredited academic”

    Mes compétences :
    Automobile
    Carrosserie

    Come on. How many linguists in academia can tell you ANYTHING about car bodywork?

  339. This

    Arnaud Fournet, a French linguist specializing in comparative research on languages represented by limited textual corpora

    is Russian sarcasm.

  340. David Eddyshaw says:

    @Plastic:

    Un grand merci. Your google-fu is greatly in advance of mine.

    How many linguists in academia can tell you ANYTHING about car bodywork?

    Non omnia possumus omnes.

    Russian sarcasm

    Elsewhere (unfortunately I’ve lost the link), Kassian describes the AF/Bomhard work thus:

    The book under review will be interesting for lovers of linguistic curiosities.

  341. David Eddyshaw says:

    Just noticed that Murray Gell-Mann, no less, was on the advisory board of the Journal of Language Relationship, that Kassian’s review appears in.

    Car bodywork, pfui. Particle physics is the right way for a linguist to pay his bills.

  342. AJP Crown says:

    Primas sum: primatum nil a me alienum puto.

  343. David Marjanović says:

    Lactase persistence! Open-access paper (both HTML and PDF) reviewing the issue and presenting some interesting data I wasn’t aware of. Doesn’t answer the question of why lactase persistence was selected for, but suggests several directions for further research.

  344. He’s an extremely productive crackpot. He seems to have a gift for self-publicity, too: a BBC artlcle on Pictish (no less) cites him as “a French linguist.”

    Thank you. Yes I fell across the Pictish piece. (The BBC seem to have got it from “A linguist’s comment” in Proceedings of the Royal Society; so he manages to self-publish/publicise in grand-sounding places.) I eschewed Google, but did find quite a few citations to Fournet from wikipedia. Do those need to be rooted out?

    Also I now seem to find myself on acadamia.edu’s mailing/spamming list. Bugga.

  345. Trond Engen says:

    David M.: Lactase persistence! Open-access paper (both HTML and PDF) reviewing the issue and presenting some interesting data I wasn’t aware of.

    Thanks! Same here.

    Doesn’t answer the question of why lactase persistence was selected for, but suggests several directions for further research.

    The fact that it can’t be explained by the usual hypothesis just makes it more interesting. I mean, it probably was spread by the Yamnaya expansion, but just like any old minor variety that happened to be present in the population, and it wasn’t selected for in Europe until the Iron Age.

  346. Trond Engen says:

    AntC: acadamia.edu’s mailing/spamming list.

    Welcome on board! There are two lists, or at least two uses of the list. The daily papers are often very interesting. The pushing of papers with my name on them in any subject I happen to touch into in my reading, and which they claim to be able to show me for a small fee, was amusing for a while, but now it’s going straight to the spamtrap.

  347. David Eddyshaw says:

    I eschewed Google, but did find quite a few citations to Fournet from wikipedia. Do those need to be rooted out?

    That’s an interesting question. He might be perfectly competent in non-triggering areas. However, my impression of Fournet’s linguistic work from dipping into his papers is pretty unfavourable whenever I’m in any position to judge (which, to be honest, is by no means always the case.) I may also not be the right person to judge, inasmuch as I am a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic over precisely the kind of long-range hypotheses that AF seems to delight in, so even if he were more rigorous I probably wouldn’t much care for his efforts. Mind you, I was struck by the fact that Alexei Kassian, who (as befits a good Moscow linguist) is by no means so skeptical, was nevertheless evidently deeply unimpressed too.

    I wonder what Fournet’s linguistic thesis was about? I would guess that it wasn’t historical linguistics.

  348. David Eddyshaw says:

    acadamia.edu’s mailing/spamming list

    O yes. Yes indeed. I find it hard to believe that it serves its presumably intended purpose of getting you to subscribe. More likely to make you shift all your own papers to Zenodo …

    I also wish there were an Amazon-like feature on academia.edu letting you delete specific items from your browsing history so that you don’t get endlessly presented with works by an author you really don’t appreciate. (I have currently successfully purged Fournet by clicking through a whole lot of papers by Roger Blench, which are rarely less than entertaining, at the very least. Now showing me his “Dagomba plant names” [actually useful for my dark purposes] and “Are the African pygmies an ethnographic fiction?” which is worth it for the title alone.)

  349. I wonder what Fournet’s linguistic thesis was about?

    La phonologie du dialecte centralna de la langue mokša : présentation, idiolectes, analyse de descriptions existantes, approche de l’harmonie vocalique

    The Moksha language (Moksha: мокшень кяль, romanized: mokšenj kälj, mokšeny käly, [ˡmɔkʃenʲ kælʲ]) is a member of the Mordvinic branch of the Uralic languages, with around 2,000 native speakers (2010 Russian census). [wp]

    From the theses abstract: ” attestations anciennes”, “historiographie de la famille ouralienne”.

    So not exactly historical, but more historical-wannabe and very much in line with the “linguistic curiosities” and “limited … corpora”.

    My interest in these cases is not so much ‘is there an element of truth’ as how/where do people get to the slippery slope from the impressive body of comparative linguistics/philology to crackpottery? (I’m all for long-range hypotheses; and I accept that needs a different approach to evidence; that move should be something like going from terrestrial physics to cosmology.)

  350. David Eddyshaw says:

    Well found! Looks historical-ish, and relevant to his general area of interest, moreover, quite contrary to my somewhat snooty guess.

    how/where do people get to the slippery slope from the impressive body of comparative linguistics/philology to crackpottery?

    An excellent question, if only so that one can take warning and avoid the same fate for oneself …

    I suspect the limited-corpora thing is all too liable to be a gateway to crackpottery unless you are very, very careful indeed about your methodology. I also suspect that not being part of an actual academic unit involved in broadly similar work is liable to deprive you of the sort of valuable informed constructive criticism likely to keep you on the intellectual straight and narrow. All of these things could be overcome in principle, but …

    There is probably a (melancholy) thesis to be written about the sociology of academic crackpottery.

    David M would be a better person to pronounce on long-rangery in general, given my own unreasoning antipathy to it. I’m sure he’d agree that the actual principles of the work ought to be just the same as in short-rangery (so to speak), but that the practice is going to be more and more difficult as more and more information gets lost over the millennia, so that eventually the methods will inevitably fail. I don’t have any grand theoretical objection to that kind of long-rangery: I just don’t believe that the evidence is as solid that kind of long-ranger thinks, not that they’re doing something illegitimate in principle. In that sense, I think the analogy with terrestrial physics vs cosmology holds good: it’s essential to the method that in principle it’s all the same physics.

    There have been perfectly good non-crackpot attempts at transcending the inevitable time-depth limitations of the comparative method, too. They tend to boil down to typology: non-crackpots are well aware that unrelated languages can be typologically similar, and vice versa, but hope to get round this by identifying what kinds of typological features seem to be particularly resistant to change. Johanna Nichols has done work of that kind; I read a very interesting (and non-crackpot, though ultimately unconvincing) work by MIchael Fortescue, Language Relations across the Bering Strait, trying to harness Nichols’ ideas to demonstrate historical connexions at time-depths inaccessible to the comparative method.

    Greenberg’s inclusion of Khordofanian in Niger-Congo was actually pretty explicitly based on this sort of thing, too: he agreed that there was little or no lexical evidence of relationship, but thought that the noun-class systems were so typologically similar on the one hand, and so hard to parallel outside Africa, that there had to be a historical connexion. (He was wrong – IMHO – but assuredly no crackpot.)

    However, once you get outside the safe zone of proper comparison, you need to bring much more intellectual rigour to the enterprise yourself; you yourself are making the rules, and you’re working without a safety net. It’s tempting for lesser mortals to look at the Nicholses and Greenbergs and Fortescues, not notice the self-discipline, imagine they can do the same, and – fall off.

  351. Russian census data of 2000 speakers of Moksha is a statistical absurdity.

    You see, two closely related peoples speaking two closely related, but mutually unintelligible languages – Erzya and Moksha were grouped by neighbors including Russians under one ethnic label – Mordva.

    So there is a lot of confusion regarding which ethnic or linguistic identity to use – Erzya, Moksha or just Mordva.

    Census of 2010 stated that there were 392 941 speakers of Mordva language (which actually doesn’t exist, it’s just an umbrella term covering two Mordva languages – Erzya and Moksha) and 2025 speakers of Moksha language.

    So to know how many speakers of Moksha out there we need to know how many of 392 941 “speakers of Mordva” speak Erzya and how many Moksha.

    There is an estimate that out of 744 thousand people of Mordva ethnicity recorded by 2010 census, about 400 thousand are Erzya and 300 thousand Moksha.

    If language retention rate is same for both groups, this would give about 150 thousand Moksha speakers.

    Anyway, it’s all theoretical, because census doesn’t tell us how well they know Moksha – maybe most of them can only say “Shumbrat!” and “Nyaemozonk!”

  352. Also, our favorite limited corpora linguist is mistaken if he thinks Moksha is little known.

    There are tons of studies since the language is kind of important – Moksha together with Erzya own their own ethnic republic – Mordovia, so they were pretty high in the Soviet ethnic pyramid and accordingly their language received a lot of scholarly attention.

    Excerpt from Moksha-Russian dictionary (Moscow, 1998):

    yafodems , -s’ gl.
    1) brosit’, vybrosit’, shvyrnut’.
    □ Marfa fatyaze kagod pusmot’ i yafodeze gollandkav (YU. Kuznetsov, Vasedema) – Marfa skhvatila bumazhnyy svortok i brosila v gollandku.
    Garyu valkhtoze kyaskavonts, ezem alu yafodeze uzerents, an’tsek esta ozas’ morksh peti (P. Levchayev, Virs’ uvnay) – Garyu snyal meshok, shvyrnul pod lavku topor, tol’ko togda sel za stol
    2) otkinut’, otbrosit’.
    □ Katya komots’, pryan’ rusyadez’ yafodeze ftalu kasants ( P. Levchayev, Stirnyat-yaksternyat) – Katya sprygnula, tryakhnuv golovoy, otkinula kosu
    3) styanut’, snyat’; yafodems udykhnen’ langsta odeyalat’ – styanut’ so spyashchikh odeyalo
    4) makhnut’.
    □ Chagrays’, mashnez’ yafodeze kyadents ( P. Levchayev, Alyashka tsoroksh) – Chagray nekhotya makhnul rukoy
    5) kivnut’ (golovoy).
    □ Kartinochkas’ yafods’ pryasa, sergyads’ shabatnen’ mel’ganza molema ( P. Levchayev. Kyar’maz) – Kartinochka” kivnula golovoy. pozvala za soboy detey
    6) nakinut’.
    □ Ivanoryas’ shalents yafodeze laftu langozonza ( I. Devin, Nardishe) – Zhena Ivana nakinula shal’ na plechi
    7) veyat’, tyanut’.
    □ Stirnyas’ panzheze val’myat’, sadsta yafods’ maren’ tantsti shinenya ( F. Atyanin, Mzyarda kenerikht’ mar’khne) – Devushka otkryla okno, iz sada tyanulo aromatom yablok
    8) podut’ (o vetre).
    □ Virt’ shiresta kepods’ ravzha tutsya i yafods’ kel’me varmanya ( P. Levchayev, Stirnyat-yaksternyat) – So storony lesa podnyalas’ chornaya tucha i podul prokhladnyy veterok
    9) vil’nut’; pines’ yafodeze pulonts – sobaka vil’nula khvostom
    10) nabrosit’sya.
    □ Kyazht’ ezda bta tuman valozen’ Sabri Alin’ sel’monzon, son yafods’ obzhants langs ( M. Kyashkin, Mzyarda per’fkat yalgat) – Ot zlosti glaza Sabri Ali zatumanilis’, on nakinulsya na obidchika
    11) brosit’sya, kinut’sya.
    □ Pankrats’ fatyaze shashkants. kurmoshtaze revol’veronts i, yalganzon tostiyez’, yafods’ kaldazu ( P. Levchayev, virs’ uvnay) – Pankrat skhvatil shashku, zazhal svoy revol’ver i, rastalkivaya svoikh druzey, brosilsya vo dvor
    12) zamakhnut’sya na kogo; yafodems yalga langs – zamakhnut’sya na druga
    13) raskryt’, raspakhnut’.
    □ Vasya kafta pyali yafodezen’ kenkshnen’ ( YU. Kuznetsov, Vasedema) – Vasya raspakhnul nastezh’ dveri
    14) peren. uvolit’ – osvobodit’ ot raboty; yafodems rabotasta – uvolit’ s raboty
    ◊ yafodems pryasta – zabyt’, vybrosit’ iz golovy.
    □ Prostindamak, yafodit’ af para myal’khnen’ pryastot ( I. Devin, Nardishe) – Ty prosti menya, vybros’ iz golovy durnyye mysli

    This is how dictionaries should be written.

  353. Lars Mathiesen says:

    acad[e]mia.edu’s spamming list — I tested clicking the UNSUBSCRIBE EVERYTHING AND GET OFF MY LAWN link in some twenty of the messages about paying to see the thousands of mentions of Lars Mathiesen (and the thousands more of L. Mathiesen) in papers in Materials Science vel sim. No change. (Not reacting to unsubscribe links is probably illegal in several jurisdictions).

  354. Two works on Moksha language:

    Moksha-Russian dictionary: 41000 words. By Institute of language, literature, history and economics under the Council of Ministers-Government of the Republic of Mordovia; ed. B. A. Serebrennikova, A. P. Feoktistova, O.E. Polyakova. – Moscow, “Russian language” publishing house, “Digora” publishing house, 1998 .– 920 p.
    Bilingual dictionary with elements of interpretation. Work on it began in 1965 (the original version was compiled by R.V. Babushkina, R.A.Zavodova, M.A.Kelin, V.A.Merkushkin, O.E. Polyakov, M.P. Troscheva, N.F . Chumakov, V. I. Shchankina, A. V. Yakushkin). Prepared by the Department of Philology and Finno-Ugric Studies. Edited by the publishing houses “Russian language” and “Digora” (Moscow), printed at the printing house “Red October” (Saransk, 1998).
    Contains 41 thousand words. In addition to the vocabulary of the Moksha literary language, the dictionary includes dialects and words reflecting the material and spiritual culture of the people (names of tools and types of agriculture, crafts and trades), ritual, socio-political terminology, etc. Comments are given to words that characterize the features life and culture of Moksha, Russian borrowings, etc. Explanatory material, in addition to free phrases, includes proverbs, sayings, riddles, examples from folklore, artistic and journalistic works. The authors of the dictionary N. S. Alyamkin, Babushkina, V. M. Imyarekova, A. N. Kelina, S. I. Lipatov, P. G. Matyushkin, Polyakov, Shchankina were awarded the State Prize of the Republic of Mordovia(1999).

    and

    Récemment, j’ai écrit une thèse descriptive sur une langue ouralienne parlée en Russie. J’ai défriché un domaine nouveau sur une langue, le moksha, peu connue et vulnérable. A terme, ce travail doit faire l’objet d’une publication.

    Peu connue, right…

  355. Thank you @SFR, wikipedia stands corrected.

    our favorite limited corpora linguist is mistaken if he thinks Moksha is little known.

    To be clear: wikipedia doesn’t say “little known”; and I don’t think Fournet says that either (though I can’t be bothered to check).

    Wikipedia does go on to say “Moksha is one of the three official languages in Mordovia (the others being Erzya and Russian).” — which seemed inconsistent with the alleged small number of native speakers. Never the less, and with all due respect to speakers of Moksha, it’s not abundantly clear to me why a French auto-engineer who picked up Russian would then pursue studies of a language with fewer than a million speakers.

    It’s also not clear why/how that would make Fournet into a “linguist” who would be consulted by the BBC on Pictish, nor write on Uralic in general, Gaulish/Celtic ethnolinguistics, Mittani/Hurrite in general, Hittite, Hattic, etc, etc, and of course critiquing the whole ‘Indo-European’ fraud thing.

    I suppose good job there’s “limited … corpora” — otherwise he might be accused of spreading himself too thin. [British sarcasm]

  356. Ah, sorry the editing portcullis dropped before I caught up with your closing comments. Perhaps he means ‘little known’ to French auto-engineers? Or to dilettantes in New Zealand? [guilty as charged — which is why I could do no better than paste from wp]

  357. Over the years, I have seen lots of discussions with AF on various linguistics-related mailing lists and fora. Unlike many crackpots, he has detailed knowledge of linguistic facts and literature, but like other crackpots, he is mostly impervious to argument and not only deeply convinced that he is right, but that anybody disagreeing with him is either a fraud or an idiot, and he usually keeps antagonizing all the other participants in discussions until he gets kicked out. When he shows up in discussions I am part of, I mostly avoid engaging with him, because it’s not much use.

  358. John Cowan says:

    Wikipedia does go on to say “Moksha is one of the three official languages in Mordovia (the others being Erzya and Russian).” — which seemed inconsistent with the alleged small number of native speakers.

    Not so much. Hawaiian is one of the two official languages of the State of Hawaii, even though only 1.7% of the population, or 24,000 people, speak it. Of these, only 2000 are L1 speakers. In the Russian Federation, most of the components have a “titular language” (I don’t know what it’s called in Russian), the language originally spoken by the “titular nationality”, the people that the component is named for. To pick one member at random, the Adyghe Republic contains only about 25% Adyghe-speakers. The Jewish Autonomous Oblast, on the other hand, contains only a tiny number of old people with L1 Yiddish and a few who have learned, or “learned”, it in school, which makes Yiddish titular indeed in the ordinary English sense of ‘nominal’. Unfortunately nobody seems to have compiled a handy list of members with population, titular language, and number of speakers.

  359. Perhaps you missed SFReader’s earlier comment:

    Census of 2010 stated that there were 392 941 speakers of Mordva language (which actually doesn’t exist, it’s just an umbrella term covering two Mordva languages – Erzya and Moksha)

    So yes, so much.

  360. I don’t understand what’s surprising about delayed spread of lactose tolerance vs. cattle herding. It almost sounds like the people are accustomed to pasteurized milk and home refrigerators and don’t imagine it any other way. It also sounds like people forgot that butter and cheese come, ultimately, from the milk cows, rather than directly from the store shelves.

    But in fact milk is extremely perishable, and fermented sour milk is several times more durable. In the pastoralist societies, cattle is spread far and wide along the pastures, and the ability to get fresh milk to the milk-drinkers is even further reduced compared to stationary villages with lush meadows and the cows actually retrning to their barns nightly.

    Fresh milk is also a substantially seasonal food, since in traditional farming and herding economies, both milk yields and milk nutrition content dropped during the winter, simply because the cattle weren’t fed quite enough. It was difficult and resource-intensive to make hay for the winter, even more so before the iron scythes. The composite scythes of the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age were hard to make and maintain, and not very efficient. So the primary purpose of the haystacks was to let the cattle survive through the winter … NOT to feed them anywhere beyond the starvation rations, let alone to feed them enough for quality milk yields.

    The semi-durable / immediate family use milk products were primarily fermented-milk drinks, and the durable/transportable milk products were milk fats and curds.Lactose content is so much reduced in all of these that lactose tolerance wasn’t required.

    Indeed, Neolithic Europe left lots of clay collander sherds, and chemical analysis of the clay revealed milk fats, making it absolutely clear that making milk curds was the way of life. Most of the nutritional value was thus extracted from milk in a way which didn’t require lactose tolerance.

    The genetic variants for lactose tolerance (several of them, including some unique for African herders (although in other African herders, introgressed Eurasian lactose tolerance mutation also eventually spread like wildfire) may have fallen under selection with the change of cultural practices (rather than cattle herding per se). Basically when it’s become culturally essential to drink raw milk / to give it to the children (in many herding cultures, it’s become a kind of a cultural shibboleth / a status symbol) (but also lack of access to clean drinking water may have pushed people to start drinking milk? But why not sour milk or even whey?). And then not having occasional diarrhea due to lactose intolerance increased fitness far enough to enable fast trait selection.

    The mere fact that lactose-tolerance selection arose quickly and independently, or enriched the rare introgressed haplotypes equally quickly, in the milk-drinking cultures, yet lactose-tolerance variants were present but didn’t spread in many old Eurasian cultures, must indicate that these old cultures simply weren’t into drinking milk (and utilized their milk in the more appropriate ways instead)

  361. (sorry for the “rant”, I just lived in a place and time where purchased milk needed to be boiled right away lest it sours, and where we received free milk as a traditional union perk, and it was invariably delivered already sour … so we always made home cheeses instead of drinking it. In fact I continue making tvorog and one batch is being fermented right now … although it’s a whole lot harder in the country of over-pasteurizing)

    My daughter, who shares my initial, complained that Academia spammed her with mentions of “my” publications. I had to explain that most of them weren’t mine either LOL. And since many papers unique to Academia are self-published work of the amateurs (while the papers of the pros can usually be sourced elsewhere), my “daily paper” selections aren’t inspiring, as a group. Something amusing or even worthwhile happens there, too, but once in a blue moon.

  362. David Marjanović says:

    Moksha has been very well known to Uralicists for a long time; Mordvin is one of the “primary branches” of Uralic, quite possibly the closest to Finnic, and very well documented as shown above…

    O yes. Yes indeed. I find it hard to believe that it serves its presumably intended purpose of getting you to subscribe.

    Almost all the papers I get suggested I have already read, usually rather recently even.

    It feels like booking a flight without an adblocker: after you’ve booked it, you’re shown ads for the exact same flight, or at least flights to the same destination around the same time, for quite some time and in amazing numbers.

    ResearchGate is much nicer to me, just saying.

    Basically when it’s become culturally essential to drink raw milk / to give it to the children (in many herding cultures, it’s become a kind of a cultural shibboleth / a status symbol)

    That seems to be the only explanation left why lactose tolerance was ever selected for.

    Judging from its distribution today, it was selected for, as in, lots of people died from diarrhea and are not represented among our ancestors – not just in northwestern Europe, but also in two places in Africa where two different mutations with the same effect have spread the same way. There’s no way random genetic drift could have led to the observed pattern.

    It’s a bit odd that a cultural practice could become so popular at such collateral damage.

    David M would be a better person to pronounce on long-rangery in general, given my own unreasoning antipathy to it. I’m sure he’d agree that the actual principles of the work ought to be just the same as in short-rangery (so to speak), but that the practice is going to be more and more difficult as more and more information gets lost over the millennia, so that eventually the methods will inevitably fail.

    In short, yes.

    The issue that information is lost is sometimes presented as if there were a cutoff date (generally the age of IE; the age of Afro-Asiatic if you’re lucky) beyond which the comparative method suddenly stops to work. Of course that’s not how it works; it’s gradual as you say, and the time distance shouldn’t be measured from the present, but from the attested languages – or from reconstructed languages once the reconstructions are reliable enough.

    It is often said that PIE “has been” reconstructed directly from attested languages. That’s more or less true of the first few attempts, which used Sanskrit as Proto-Indic, Latin as Proto-Italic, Gothic as Proto-Germanic and so on. As it happens, these approximations work well enough much of the time, but recognizing that this isn’t perfect and therefore reconstructing actual Proto-Germanic etc. has noticeably improved the reconstructions.

    And that is simply where a lot of work remains to be done. One of the things you need to figure out if Altaic is real is a good, solid reconstruction of Proto-Tungusic. They’re still working on it.

    …and one of the things you need to reconstruct Proto-Tungusic is a good grasp of Yukagir, because layers of Yukagir loanwords are all over Tungusic. Well, there’s a great big dictionary from 2006, but if that’s not enough for your needs, you better zoom off to some very remote places in northeastern Siberia to find the last few speakers of the last two Yukagir languages right about now.

    The long-range idea that short-rangers seem to be most favorable to is Indo-Uralic. Somewhat similarly, the current reconstructions of Proto-Uralic aren’t up to IE standards; progress is being made, but it’ll be a while. On the IE side, there’s quite a bit of unraveling to do because people have been generally underestimating the differences between Proto-Indo-Anatolian, Proto-Indo-Tocharian and Proto-Indo-Actually-European; well, the documentation of Anatolian and Tocharian is limited… And once you’ve reached the stage where you can compare PIA and PU directly without having to second-guess your dictionaries all the time, there’s still the issue that Yukagir, for example, might be even closer to Uralic, and Tyrrhenian (Etruscan, Lemnian, Raetic, and perhaps a few odd words around the Aegean) might be even closer to IA, so these could greatly improve your reconstruction of PIU, or maybe even make much of it possible in the first place.

    So, again, yes, the methods should be exactly the same as in short-rangery, as the Moscow School keeps saying; the main difficulties are purely practical – but enormous: to convince funding agencies to fund enormous numbers of person-hours before a publishable result comes out.

  363. or from reconstructed languages once the reconstructions are reliable enough.

    But they can’t possibly be. This is one of the reasons I’m as skeptical as DE; once you start treating reconstructed languages as equivalent to actual languages (when in fact they’re inevitably full of holes and mistaken hypotheticals) and using them as foundations for further reconstruction, you’re building on sand.

  364. Judging from its distribution today, it was selected for, as in, lots of people died from diarrhea and are not represented among our ancestors – not just in northwestern Europe, but also in two places in Africa where two different mutations with the same effect have spread the same way.

    Probably the best study demonstrating both fast selection AND a link between the variants and the actual lactose tolerance is a paper about Fulani published last year
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6888939/
    (In the Fulani, the spread of lactose tolerance is historically recent and not yet complete, so they offer a great chance to catch selection in the act).

    Today’s Fulani have about 25% non-Subsaharan African DNA (about equal parts North African and European). The European DNA came in two pulses, the first one ~1828 years ago (before they embarked on their Eastward journey from West Africa towards Chad) (95% confidence interval (CI): 1517–2138) with the source population similar to both today’s North and South Europeans. The second pulse, about 3 centuries ago, brought in a bit more Southern European DNA.

    The lactose tolerance variant in Fulani is fully European in origin, and is present at 48% frequency, several times higher than the average share of ancestrally European DNA segments. It is a clear sign of the ongoing selection. It is also strongly associated with the actual lactose tolerance on the genome-wide scale.

    The European-origin DNA segments surrounding the lactose-tolerance variant in the Fulani tend to be embedded in North African DNA, indicating that the Fulani got it from the ancestors who were mixed North African and European in origin. So the genetic variant first went into North Africa with the Europeans, then spread into West Africa to the ancestors of the Fulani, and then started to be selected.

    The authors explicitly say that lactose toleration selection is a hallmark of milk-drinking cultures, rather than cattle-herding cultures in general, BTW, Oh, and yes, the Fulani had several other ongoing diet-related selection processes.

  365. David Eddyshaw says:

    Very interesting paper. Thanks, DP!

    The “Fulani” are not actually a single ethnic group.They are united only by language, and the language is moreover also spoken by the ethnically distinct Tokolor. The cattle nomads are the lighter-skinned woɗeɓe “reds”; much more numerous are the agriculturalist ɓaleɓe (“blacks”) who are the prestigious jihadists who founded the great West African caliphates.

    BTW Kalenjin is wrongly listed under “Niger-Congo.”

    There are plenty of “European” genes in the Sahel and Savanna, and not just among the Fulɓe. Tuaregs, too, are a culture, not a “race”, and some look pretty much Mediterranean. There is an entire Songhay clan claiming descent from the Moroccans who brought down their empire in 1591.

    I’ve even encountered the occasional blue-eyed Kusaasi.

  366. Lars Mathiesen says:

    But they can’t possibly be — the snippet you were responding to was about what stage to measure time depth from. PIE is older than the attested languages.

    But in general, of course using reconstructed proto-languages as proxies for the languages they are reconstructed from will lose information and skew the results. It’s possible that some quirk preserved only in Danish and Doric might prove something about PIE that the accepted Proto-Germanic and Proto-Greek do not. But we are not at the stage where we can put all attested IE languages into a neural network and have it speak Pre-Proto-PIE at us, and feeble monkey brains need crutches like proto-languages to make sense and progress.

  367. Of course. We just can’t afford to lose sight of the fact that reconstructed proto-languages are our own fantasies, however close they may be to the actual languages they represent.

  368. We just can’t afford to lose sight of the fact that reconstructed proto-languages are our own fantasies,

    That’s why I drew a parallel to cosmology. We can’t reproduce the physics of a black hole on earth; we can’t send a probe to our neighbourhood black hole to look inside it; we can’t ‘see’ it directly from outside. We can only observe its effects indirectly when it swallows something; or when it passes between us and something we can see. And wrt limited corpora, we can’t conduct an experiment to make a black hole or its surroundings get into some configuration; for all observations we have to wait until a black hole does something we’re looking out for at a time we happen to be pointing a telescope at it. Does that make a black hole a fantasy?

    (That would be a perfectly legitimate conclusion, but leaves outstanding an explanation for what we have observed.)

    We posit homo sapientis has always spoken language; indeed there’s some saying so did Neanderthals, and probably all homo’s. Then the Hurrians and the Hittites and the Picts and all their ancestors must have spoken something. Do we just give up speculating until/unless more archaeological artefacts get discovered? And even if ‘we’ did give up, that wouldn’t hold back the crackpots whatsoever.

  369. By fantasy I don’t mean something wholly imaginary and impossible, just something that we have created for ourselves rather than found in the outside world. I am not depreciating it, just insisting that we have always to bear in mind that that is what it is; it is fatally easy to think that because phlogiston (or whatever it may be) answers to all our current demands for explanation of facts on hand, it is just as real as the stone we kick.

  370. Lars Mathiesen says:

    There is also a tendency to talk about a proto-language as if it was something that actual people spoke at some point in time. But whatever people spoke, there will have been features (like irregular inflactions) that were since lost without trace, and maybe at the time the sound system was like we reconstructed it, the verb paradigms were more like the previous stage (or vice versa). Just sorting out the sequence of sound changes in Germanic has taken centuries innit.

    When we build the time machine, maybe we can go back to wherever and make ourselves understood but we’ll sound like country cousins at best, or someone from the old country, not clued in to the latest ways of speaking in the king’s hut.

  371. David Marjanović says:

    But they can’t possibly be.

    They can be as good as some of the more fragmentarily and more ambiguously attested languages – say Hittite, where e.g. plenty of rather basic words are not attested or only attested as logograms, parts of the grammar are a bit mysterious, and it’s still not 100% clear which written vowels were real, and of those that were real which were epenthetic and which etymological, or whether they were really all [a ɛ i u] as the script claims, or even [a ɛ i o u] as some have inferred from regularities in the spellings.

    once you start treating reconstructed languages as equivalent to actual languages (when in fact they’re inevitably full of holes and mistaken hypotheticals) and using them as foundations for further reconstruction, you’re building on sand.

    Again, this is how PIE is reconstructed today: you start from Proto-Germanic, Proto-Celtic etc., even if it’s not always made fully explicit.

    Sand? Sure. It’s only science.

    reconstructed proto-languages are our own fantasies

    They’re our own testable hypotheses, if done right.

    There is also a tendency to talk about a proto-language as if it was something that actual people spoke at some point in time.

    Well, the actual language was (that’s trivial, but I’ve seen people forget it). Our reconstruction of it will, if done well enough, be a good approximation of pretty large parts of it, though of course it’s not likely to ever be complete. Fortunately, completeness isn’t needed, or attested Gothic would be worthless.

    Just sorting out the sequence of sound changes in Germanic has taken centuries innit.

    And that’s still going on.

  372. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Now I’m wanting to look up a serious attempt at reconstructing Proto-Romance and see how it compares to attested VL. (But it would be hard to do clean-room reconstructions, any scholar who knows two Romance languages has probably been taught Latin too).

    (Was vulgus pejorative in CL? Vulgar certainly is now, but is Vulgar Latin an exonym or were all the speakers dead by the time the term was coined? Vernacular Latin is no better, verna means ‘house slave.’ Colloquial might be accurate, how do we think Cicero sounded when he spoke with Terentia?).

  373. Was vulgus pejorative in CL? Vulgar certainly is now,

    The Latin meaning was merely ‘common, ordinary (people), the multitude, throng’ .

    To call a fraction ‘vulgar’ is not pejorative. The ‘vulgate’ translation of the bible is not pejorative.

    “Meaning “coarse, low, ill-bred” is first recorded 1640s,”

  374. They can be as good as some of the more fragmentarily and more ambiguously attested languages

    No they can’t, and I’m saddened that you think so. That’s like saying a reconstruction of the Kennedy assassination can be as good as the Zapruder video, or a witness’s memory of a conversation can be as good as a fragmentary tape. Fantasies (or “testable hypotheses,” if you prefer to sound all scientific about it) can never be as good as reality; they are two different kinds of thing, and it is a category error to treat them as if they were the same. It is not some silly hypothetical point I am making — we see the results of taking our fantasies for reality all around us. Our brains are built to believe in stories; once we see something that hooks into the story line we have created, we spell out the rest automatically and are satisfied. I could adduce real-life examples that result in many deaths, but I don’t want to drag politics in; the point is that even if linguistic fantasies don’t get people killed, they are still deleterious if we don’t keep them firmly in check by bearing constantly in mind that they are our own inventions. I don’t care how well grounded your protolanguage is, it is still full of errors and omissions; yes, of course it can still be very useful as long as we bear that fact in mind.

  375. It is impossible to look directly into the past, time machine is just a pipe dream of humanity. Any of our judgments about the past are only more or less probable assumptions based on the interpretation of the facts and events of our time. Dinosaurs (so beloved by the general public after Jurassic Park) are, generally speaking, just pieces of sandstone, resembling bones of modern reptiles in their shape; everything else is pure speculation. It is clear that speculations of film director S. Spielberg and speculations of academician paleontologist L.P. Tatarinov are of somewhat different value, however, it is impossible to experimentally verify either the first or the second – neither today nor in the future. Therefore, first we should decide for ourselves a fundamental question: is the past cognizable at all? At the same time, it is necessary to recognize that at the logical level the problem is insoluble, that is, it is not a question of reason, but of faith.

    If the answer is “no”, then we can further, at our own discretion, inhabit the past with Atlanteans and Lemurians, intelligent octopuses and winged fire-breathing dragons, or, on the contrary, we can deny existence of everything that is not mentioned – in black and white – in the Old Testament. You are welcome. We are now in the sphere of mythology, we can not deny ourselves anything. Having set out on this path, we inevitably have to come to denial of existence of king Cheops, Ivan the Terrible, and even Comrade Stalin – how are they better than dinosaurs in this sense?

    If we accept that the past is fundamentally cognizable (and overwhelming majority of people decide this question for themselves in this way), and at the same time remain in the sphere of rational thinking (that is, we will rely not on “revelations from above”, but on our own observations and inference), then the above-mentioned piece of sandstone will immediately turn into a tyrannosaurus femur. The structure of its surface will allow us to draw conclusions about the places of muscle attachment and, accordingly, about the type of gait, speed of movement and possible methods of hunting; the internal structure of the bone – about the nature of the blood supply and, accordingly, about the possible warm-bloodedness of these creatures. The fossil wood with tree rings would suggest that the climate in this area was then seasonal, and the fossil coral reef that the temperature of the surrounding sea water exceeded 20 ° C. All of these conclusions will be based on analogies – on how vertebrate bones, wood, and coral reefs behave today.

    (c) Kirill Es’kov “History of the Earth and its life”

  376. David Marjanović says:

    Now I’m wanting to look up a serious attempt at reconstructing Proto-Romance and see how it compares to attested VL.

    The latest etymological dictionary of Romance gives all headwords in reconstructed Proto-Romance, and CL was not used in the reconstruction. The problem with comparison is that VL is poorly attested. On top of that, we don’t know which kind of VL exactly (where and when) was Proto-Romance.

    two different kinds of thing

    As I’ve tried to explain, a lot of reconstruction goes into our understanding of plenty of attested languages, too!

    it is still full of errors and omissions

    Yes! And so is our understanding of plenty of attested languages!

    Even living ones. I’ve encountered plenty of oversimplifications and overextensions of inappropriate models in descriptions of modern English and modern German, with consequences all the way into reconstructions of Proto-Germanic (in extreme cases).

  377. David Marjanović says:

    Dinosaurs (so beloved by the general public after Jurassic Park) are, generally speaking, just pieces of sandstone

    …I can’t think of any preserved specifically as sandstone (i.e. completely dissolved, then the resulting hollow spaces filled in with sand which was then cemented together by something crystallizing out of the groundwater). But lots of other things happen; there are bones replace by opal.

    Most fossil bones, however, still contain more or less all the original bone mineral (a kind of apatite), just with the marrow cavities etc. filled in, the apatite modified to fluorapatite* and sometimes recrystallized, and the organic matter largely gone.

    * Chondrichthyan teeth are fluorapatite to begin with. Envy them.

  378. And so is our understanding of plenty of attested languages!

    Do you really not understand the difference between misunderstanding an actual thing that’s in front of you (cf. blind men and elephant — the elephant does not change regardless of whether it’s taken as a wall, a snake, or a fan) and fantasizing about what was once an actual thing but which no longer exists and can never be recovered? If we misunderstand the way German works, big deal — we’ll figure it out by comparison with the actual German language that is spoken and written all around us. If we misunderstand the way PIE worked (well, no “if” about it, of course we do), we will never know about it unless we happen on some feature in a newly discovered (or inadequately studied) language that makes us say “Aha, that element of our reconstruction turns out to be wrong!” Of course, that does not mean our reconstruction is now correct; it’s just had one random mistake removed. The rest is still our fantasy.

    Compare the Scots Wikipedia mess in the recent thread: it’s as if the deluded guy decided he was wrong about “knaw” and replaced it with “ken.” Does that make Scots Wikipedia correct? Does it even significantly improve it? With regard to ancient lost languages, we’re all Scots Wikipedia guy, except that we have no native speakers to correct us. All we can do is try to have some humility about our ideas, which is what I’m trying to instill by talking about “fantasy” instead of (*coughs, looks serious*) “testable hypothesis.”

  379. David Eddyshaw says:

    I agree with your basic drift, but would add that even a grammar of a contemporary spoken language is an abstraction from the data* (and indeed, there are often perfectly good alternative ways of accounting for the data, with the choice between them being effectively aesthetic, or at least not forced on you by the data themselves.)

    The differences with reconstructed protolanguages are (a) the reconstruction is a second-order abstraction and (b) in principle, you can always go out and collect more data in the case of a living language, so as to test your hypotheses properly. However, the second of these differences is not altogether clear-cut; with grammars of less familiar contemporary languages it may not be at all easy to collect more data (indeed, the language may be moribund or only spoken by semispeakers); and in comparative work, new data can appear (indeed, whole new languages to compare, as with Tocharian and Anatolian.)

    *Nomina nuda tenemus …

  380. Well, we’re on the same page at last!

  381. David Marjanović says:

    That these differences aren’t all that clear-cut is my point.

    I should elaborate. Our understanding of Hittite rests on our understanding of, on one side, Sumerian and Akkadian, both long dead as well, and Sumerian without helpfully close relatives; on the other side, on previously reconstructed PIE in a “reciprocal illumination” sort of way – Hrozný first identified wa-a-tar=ma and then figured out that the sentence meant “bread [logogram] will you eat, and/but water will you drink”, and this method still plays a role today.

    Does that make Scots Wikipedia correct?

    I’m not used to anything ever being correct with metaphysical certainty. It’s only science, metaphysical certainty is not to be had, all we can do is remain aware of the sources of our uncertainty. 😐

  382. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    And may no country be like Colombia of the eighties and nineties.

    It’s a bit late to comment on a post from more than two years ago, but I have only just noticed this and would like to say that Colombia wasn’t as ghastly in the eighties and nineties as it’s sometimes projected as being.

    I was there in both decades,1985 and 1998, mainly in Santa Marta, but also briefly in Bogotá and Barranquilla both times. Santa Marta in particular seemed to be completely calm. We didn’t come across anything untoward in Bogotá, but we were sternly warned not to stray away from the immediate vicinity of our hotel unless accompanied by someone we knew.

    In 1985 we were surprised to see little groups of armed soldiers at every major street corner in Santa Marta, especially surprising after six weeks in Santiago: despite the military dictatorship one never saw armed soldiers in Santiago other than at the entrances to major public buildings. Those in Santa Marta seemed to have disappeared by 1998.

    In 1985 we went to Barranquilla as tourists, and went by bus. In 1998 we were both invited to Barranquilla to give lectures, and the person who invited us was so worried at the possibility of our being kidnapped that he came in a university car to pick us up, and took us back to Santa Marta afterwards. The route is more or less flat, but there is a place a little way out of Santa Marta where the Sierra Nevada almost comes down to the sea, leaving a little strip of land along the coast. After we passed this point our host breathed a sigh of relief and said that that was a favourite place for attacks.

    Now that I’ve written all that I can see that I’m close to contradicting what I started out with!

  383. David Eddyshaw says:

    In the late 1980’s I worked with a colleague who was from Medellín, who used to get quite cross about the way her home town of two-million-plus inhabitants was routinely portrayed on the news as if there was nothing there but drug cartels.

  384. It can be (and often is) the case both that a place is not as bad as it’s portrayed by a sensationalist and ignorant international press and that it’s still pretty damn bad. The locals often don’t see it that way because they’re simply used to it (“Well, sure, you don’t want to go to that part of town/ go out at night/ look directly at people in uniforms, that’s just common sense…”), and of course they want to emphasize the not-so-bad part to people whose minds have been muddled by the sensationalist and ignorant international press.

  385. David Eddyshaw says:

    Yes, familiarity accounts for a lot. (I had another colleague, who was South African, who said he’d never felt anywhere near as anxious about his personal safety in South Africa as in Glasgow on a Saturday night. Mind you …)

  386. J.W. Brewer says:

    My favorite weird detail about the new and improved post-conflict Colombia is the feral hippo population (only one outside of Africa) that descends from the onetime residents of the private zoo of the once-prominent Pablo Escobar. Many articles portray them as a classic invasive-species menace, except larger than most, but this article argues for a silver lining. https://www.livescience.com/cocaine-hippos-boost-colombian-ecosystem.html

  387. John Cowan says:

    That’s like saying a reconstruction of the Kennedy assassination can be as good as the Zapruder video, or a witness’s memory of a conversation can be as good as a fragmentary tape.

    Of course they can (saith Doctor Obviosus). The Zapruder film shows a limited set of events from a single perspective and without much detail. A reconstruction that takes into account all the evidence may be flawed, but it is much less limited. And which would you rather have, the less-than-reliable memory of a witness, or a tape that is 75% (pick your own number) nothing but hiss? Surely the former is the better evidence.

    Es’kov’s key setence is very much to the point: “Any of our judgments about the past are only more or less probable assumptions based on the interpretation of the facts and events of our time.” Is there any evidence, for example, for the existence of Julius Caesar or Peter the Great or Adolf Hitler or (in my case, at least) Boris Johnson? No. There is only what can be inferred from written evidence based ultimately on people’s inevitably-flawed memories of what they saw and heard. Or think they saw and heard. (I really do only know about Johnson what I read about him.)

    So we use what Es’kov calls faith and I call (after Frye) the assumption of total intelligibility: that all the evidence actually does consile to a single reality, and that there can be found explanations for evidence that does not fit that discredits it. Do we sighted people actually know the Elefant an sich? We do not; we too know only about the elephant what we perceive. As someone for whom seeing has never been believing, due to my vision and perception problems, it is perhaps more obvious to me that we all “prate about an Elephant/ Not one of [us] has seen!”

    Chondrichthyan teeth are fluorapatite to begin with. Envy them.

    I thought that was the point of fluoridating water, to transform the apatite of the enamel to fluoroapatite.

    The rest is still our fantasy.

    Or rather our imagination, as all the products of the arts and sciences are. But (as I was taught on my home world as a child) truth is a matter of the imagination.

  388. And which would you rather have, the less-than-reliable memory of a witness, or a tape that is 75% (pick your own number) nothing but hiss? Surely the former is the better evidence.

    Which I would rather have is neither here nor there; it depends on my mood and my purposes. Your latter statement is simply (or “surely”) wrong — perhaps you’re unfamiliar with recent research on the unreliability of memory and eyewitness testimony. If you can’t convict somebody on facts, don’t convict them. And don’t bother me with postmodern reflections on how facts don’t exist; I get enough of that sort of thing from Luhmann (when Stu’s around to share it).

  389. Or is it Sloterdijk? I get them confused.

  390. J.W. Brewer says:

    Sloterdijk’s the funnier one. At least if (non-Scots) wikipedia is reliable, which I accept is a big if.

  391. David Marjanović says:

    I thought that was the point of fluoridating water, to transform the apatite of the enamel to fluoroapatite.

    It is, but AFAIK it works a lot more partially.

    And don’t bother me with postmodern reflections on how facts don’t exist;

    Facts exist, but to get them to the point where we can use them we often need several levels of inference. We’re all using Ockham’s Razor a lot more than we’re aware of.

  392. Sure, absolutely. I’m just arguing for maximum awareness. Again, we’re built to ignore it. “Мы рождены, чтоб сказку сделать былью…”

  393. On Hittite: I recently remembered that when my youngest brother Drew was just an infant, my father had the humorous idea that infant babbling (which he, being a pediatrician, was very familiar with) sounded more like Hittite than any other language. So we nicknamed baby Drew “Suppiluliumas” (or “Lugal Suppiluliumas”), although we stopped calling him that after he learned to talk.

  394. PlasticPaddy says:

    @AntC, lars
    While vulgus is not pejorative per se, there is a contextual usage which means (threatening) mob
    Aeneid I.148-150
    ac ueluti magno in populo cum saepe coorta est
    seditio saeuitque animis ignobile uulgus
    iamque faces et saxa uolant, furor arma ministrat;

    See also Juvenal Satire 3.36.

  395. John Cowan says:

    Your latter statement is simply (or “surely”) wrong — perhaps you’re unfamiliar with recent research on the unreliability of memory and eyewitness testimony.

    Oh, quite familiar with it, not to mention my personal experiences with the unreliability of my own and other people’s memories.

    If you can’t convict somebody on facts, don’t convict them.

    Now really, do you suppose that if my wife of forty years (yay!) were to hit me with a frying pan (not on the head) that my testimony as to her identity and what took place would be worthless? Even if there were thirty direct observers of the crime (which is about all you could squeeze into our largest room), you would dismiss them all on the grounds that eyewitness testimony is simply not reliable? If so, what kind of facts would you like the prosecution to present? There is no chance of DNA evidence, after all, since everything the apartment is covered with DNA from both of us. And there are, I trust, no spy cameras in the apartment either. So that’s that, she gets away scot-free?

  396. David Marjanović says:

    Our understanding of Hittite rests on our understanding of, on one side, Sumerian and Akkadian

    …and, I forgot to spell out, our understanding of Sumerian relies very heavily on our understanding of Akkadian, which in turn rests (probably a bit too much) on that of Classical Arabic and Biblical Hebrew – two levels of inference to Sumerian, one more to Hittite.

  397. PlasticPaddy says:

    @jc
    I am not sure our host intended to say all inferences must be made (or verified) by personal observation. I suspect he may be referring to the problem where a researcher prefers a model in the case of discrepancies with the real world process it is modelling.

  398. Now really, do you suppose that if my wife of forty years (yay!) were to hit me with a frying pan (not on the head) that my testimony as to her identity and what took place would be worthless?

    Of course not.

  399. Lars Mathiesen says:

    ignobile uulgus — perhaps that is the collocation that lurked in the back of my mind, I’m sure I’ve seen it quoted out of context.

    Also fluor(o)apatite may be a good thing, but it seems that fluoride itself is toxic to the cells forming tooth enamel so people born in areas with high natural fluoride levels in the water have bad teeth. (But they don’t get caries).

  400. You guys are a little late to the party: Nyāya Sūtras

  401. David Marjanović says:

    Lactose tolerance! Still absent in the dead of both sides of the battle of Tollense – 1250 BCE. The selective sweep must have been even more severe than anyone thought, and that makes it even more mysterious.

    I mean, by that time, people elsewhere were already mixing milk in their soma

  402. Still absent in the dead of both sides of the battle of Tollense – 1250 BCE.

    People have major gripes with this publication (although it does show that lactase persistence wasn’t too common).
    First of all it isn’t absent. One of the dead warriors has it. Reanalysis of the raw DNA data from this paper seems to imply that the lactose-tolerant guy had proto-Balto-Slavic affinities, while most of the rest of the dead may have been from the places far to the South, For some reason the authors use a very limited reference set of samples, not capable of separating North Europeans from South-Central Europeans, and then claim that the Tollense warriors represented a one homogeneous population. Of course a natural suspicion arises that they simply hated the idea of inter-ethnic warfare and consciously limited the power of their analysis to make both sides look “ethnically similar”.

    So it is a possibility that lactose tolerance was far more common in Northern Europe than they estimate. But still not TOO common.

  403. David Marjanović says:

    One of the dead warriors has it.

    Ah.

    a natural suspicion

    That’s not natural at all; such conscious lying to oneself is really not common among scientists. In the news article, they actually sound surprised that they couldn’t find any ancestry differential between the two sides of the battle.

  404. they actually sound surprised that they couldn’t find any ancestry differential between the two sides of the battle

    the others are even more baffled by this claim, given that the authors didn’t use sensitive algorithms nor appropriately ancient reference samples. Their draw their “ethnic homogeneity” conclusion largely from modern-Europe PCA in Figure 1, where the Tollense sample are far more diverse in the PCA space than Mokrin or Lech Valley samples chosen for a limited comparison, especially on the “North-South” axis. They note that 70% of the Tollense dead fall within range of “contemporary Northern and Central European variation” which IMVHO is a far weaker claim than “all the Tollense warriors were of the same ethnic origin”.

    An additional support for the homogeneity claim comes from Fig. 2C, where the Tollense warriors are modeled as a group descended from … Utah White Americans. Sure, these Utah families volunteered for genetic research decades ago, and their genome data are widely available. But to select them as putative ancestors of the Bronze Age warriors, in 2020 when so many more appropriate samples are available, is, well, baffling.

    The authors made their raw data available, and post-publication analyses by the others seem to contradict the “same ethnicity” conclusion.

  405. David Marjanović says:

    They note that 70% of the Tollense dead fall within range of “contemporary Northern and Central European variation” which IMVHO is a far weaker claim than “all the Tollense warriors were of the same ethnic origin”.

    You are too modest.

    the Tollense warriors are modeled as a group descended from … Utah White Americans.

    Whoa. Don’t those have founder effects that ruin everything?

  406. The authors made their raw data available, and post-publication analyses by the others seem to contradict the “same ethnicity” conclusion.

    A partial reanalysis by a respected genomics blogger shows that the males with different Y-haplogroups occupied different sub-regions within the grand Tollense “cloud”, strongly suggesting that they belonged to 2 or 3 tribal groups.
    https://eurogenes.blogspot.com/2020/09/warriors-from-at-least-two-different.html

    The discussion also underscores that the authors of the Tollense paper failed to provide archaeological context of the studied remains, so it isn’t clear who of the warriors may have represented which side in the battle, and not even clear if both sides were represented.

  407. Trond Engen says:

    Busy for a few days and then this happens. I’ve been waiting eagerly for a genetic analysis of the Tollensee warriors, but this sounds like a major letdown. I hope it’s only the post-processing of the data that is insufficient.

    Why would anyone find intra-ethnic warfare more politically convenient than inter-ethnic warfare on this scale?

  408. >Lactose tolerance! Still absent in the dead of both sides of the battle of Tollense

    Ah, so the lactose tolerant had an advantage that helped them survive the battle!

    Isn’t the idea of using Utah white Americans that the Mormon movement drew from a cross-section of the antebellum North, and drew in large numbers, so there are no founder effects and it works as a proxy for northern Europeans generally?

  409. The Utah samples (formally known as CEU, after Centre d’Etude du Polymorphisme Humain Europeans in Utah) are a fairly representative Northern European population, part-British Isles, part-Germany and Southern Sweden in origin. No, their conversion to Mormon faith didn’t result in substantial founder effects; in fact a recent paper finds their biggest ancestral founder effect in the same Bronze Age (perhaps from Corded Ware population expansions). It’s just, the CEU is a product of the demographic processes which were far from complete in Tollense times, and you don’t have to look further than the 2nd figure in the Eurogenes post to notice that the ancient diversity in this corner of Europe differed from today’s (the ancient samples there are mostly from Sigtuna). So CEU is a good model for many things European, but hardly an appropriate yardstick for Tollense.

    The same fellow who had the lactose tolerance genetic variant is also the only one with a typically Salvo-Baltic R1a Y-chromosome, and he also lands right with the Slavs and the Balts on the PCA plot (while some of the other warriors are near contemporary Germans, others among the ancient Scandinavians). So you may say that there is a lone outlier special in many DNA aspects, and we don’t know the archaeological context to make sense of it. Perhaps one from the winning side? A local?

    Both the artifacts and the isotope analysis, as published in 2017 when Tollense was all the news, indicates the dead belonged to two distinct groups, and many of them were from much further South. Something like Bavaria. If the new paper found no lactose tolerance in those Southerners, but 100% lactose tolerance in (alas, the only) local, then the conclusions about the very late spread of lactose tolerance in Europe’s North may be equally flimsy.

  410. David Marjanović says:

    Very intriguing.

  411. The problem with the early Balto-Slavic DNA is the cremation of the bodies. But in an ambush on a swampy river crossing, some bodies could have been lost underwater and not retrieved for cremation by the victorious side. The R1a remains were found in the deepest layer under surface, so it isn’t unreasonable to think that this warrior was drowned or mired too deeply to be found after the battle was over.

  412. Trond Engen says:

    Me: Tollensee

    Ouch.

    The article in Current Biology

    If I read this correctly, the lacking information on internal structure and correlations with archaeological context is because the scope of the paper is limited to evolutionary genomics. The authors conclude (and I’m not able to evaluate that conclusion) that the Tollense warriors are (for the purpose of this study) a representative genetic sample of its time in Northern Central Europe and of a population that is ancestral to modern Northern Central Europeans. They find that even if the warriors may represent different regions of a continuum, it’s likely that the underlying population structure was one fairly homogenous population. Of 14 more or less randomly picked genomes, only one was found to be lactase persistent. That is significant whether or not there’s something to be said about their individual ancestry and exact geographic origin. I’m more left with the feeling that the authors have more up their sleeves for later papers. 14 genomes is a small sample for determining internal structure anyway, and especially without any further information of how they were chosen.

  413. the scope of the paper is limited to evolutionary genomics. The authors conclude (and I’m not able to evaluate that conclusion) that the Tollense warriors are (for the purpose of this study) a representative genetic sample of its time in Northern Central Europe and of a population that is ancestral to modern Northern Central Europeans. They find that even if the warriors may represent different regions of a continuum, it’s likely that the underlying population structure was one fairly homogenous population.

    Yes, this is actually more likely than any alleged “political bias”. The authors had a choice of siding with the “splitters” or the “lumpers” (in a population genomics rather than in the language sense) and chose the latter.

    Was it a reasonable choice? Or an unbiased one? Joachim Burger, the study’s senior author whose sequencing facility has been used for the work, is an authority on the recent evolution process in the European humans (primarily “appearance loci”, where it’s never clear if the driving force of the evolution was natural or sexual selcetion), and the lactose tolerance variant (where it can be implied that the evolution is fully natural-selection-driven). Dr. Burger may have been quite excited to embrace a “lumper” model which predicts a particularly fast pace of lactose-tolerance selection.

    They do mention that studies of the slightly younger Bronze Age DNA (a few centuries younger) show much higher frequency of genetic lactose tolerance (much higher than could have evolved from nearly-zero with their suggested selection rate of 0.06 per generation) but they seem to attribute the discrepancies to chance fluctuations. Others would rather see non-random tendencies correlated with the ethno-geographic patterns. Indeed, at the Bronze Age sites of Turlojiškė and Kivutkalns in the Eastern Baltics, nearly 2/3 of the dead were lactose-tolerant (and they were also rich on the “Balto-Slavic” R1a Y-chromosomes, and showed Balto-Slavic affinities in the autosomal DNA) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5789860/

    Likewise, Lichtenstein Cave Bronze Age skeletons ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lichtenstein_Cave ) from the Southern Baltics were part-R1a, and 1/3 of them were lactose-tolerant. It kind of excites the “splitters” who see a consistent gradient of genetic factors (generally autosomal, Y-chromosomal, and lactose-tolerance) from the North and the North-East, and link it with the presence of the Balto-Slavic peoples. They would argue that by adopting the lumper stance, we may lose sight of the important ethnogeographic processes of the era, as well as mis-characterize mixing of the once-separated streams of human ancestry as a straightforward case of natural selection

  414. David Marjanović says:

    So lactose tolerance could be a satəm feature. Interesting to say the least.

    mis-characterize mixing of the once-separated streams of human ancestry as a straightforward case of natural selection

    The fixation of lactose tolerance in the “satəm” populations, and its rather dramatic introgression into the “kentum” populations, still imply selection.

  415. The fixation of lactose tolerance in the “satəm” populations, and its rather dramatic introgression into the “kentum” populations, still imply selection.

    but a slower selection (starting from a higher point). Selection coefficient of 0.06 is very fast in evolutionary terms, but it will still take almost 3 centuries to double the frequency of a rare mutation at this speed. (In the Fulani, which we discussed earlier in this thread, the initial ~10-15% post-admixture rate seems to have doubled in ~800 years).

    And as we already discussed, selection pressure itself is part-cultural and part-economical (not just reliance on diary foods in general, but specifically a culture of milk-drinking) and it could radically strengthen with the “introgression” of cultural and economic practices.

    But the Bronze Age lactose-tolerance rate question probably isn’t yet really settled in statistical terms. The new paper “might” have simply undersampled the tolerant people, and/or the Lichtenstein Cave numbers could have similarly fluctuated higher. The hypothesis of selection in situ without introgression probably can’t yet be ruled out with a p-value of better than 0.05 (the authors repeatedly show that the differences between various pairs of sampled populations aren’t statistically significant, but they don’t attempt a meta-analysis of all publications which is bound to be stronger in significance)

  416. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Humans are social animals. How does it affect your marriage prospects if you have to stay away from the spring milking festival, or retreat to the outhouse after two hours? Your rival with a dodgy eye but no lactose intolerance might make significant inroads while you are indisposed.

  417. PlasticPaddy says:

    Maybe this is a stupid question, but could the selection for lactase tolerance be more about increased survival of older infants and young children who are able to breastfeed longer or obtain needed nutrition for growth from fresh milk? It may be less critical for adults.

  418. Lars Mathiesen says:

    One of my exes was told that she almost died as a baby because her mom couldn’t breastfeed and she is lactose intolerant. I assume there is lactose free baby formula now, but this was in the ’50s.

  419. older infants and young children

    generally it isn’t the case. In the humans (regardless of their lactose tolerance later in life), the LCT gene (producing lactase) remains fully active until about the age of 5

    almost died as a baby because her mom couldn’t breastfeed and she is lactose intolerant

    Mother’s milk is even richer in lactose (milk sugar), about 7% vs. about 4% in cow milk, so it tastes more sweet. But babies digest it just fine. Old formulas were often sweetened with conventional sugar to get a similar taste, but some babies might not tolerate that. There is also an extremely rare genetic condition where the LCT gene is completely broken and the lactose intolerance is congenital. Those babies do require special lactose free formulas (and mothers’ milk is just as toxic for them). In most populations it occurs in fewer than in 1 / 100,000 newborn.

  420. David Marjanović says:

    In the humans (regardless of their lactose tolerance later in life), the LCT gene (producing lactase) remains fully active until about the age of 5

    Huh. I thought lactase production is switched off by lack of exposure to lactose some time after weaning.

    (Lactose tolerance occurs when the switch is broken, so lactase production is never switched off.)

  421. PlasticPaddy says:

    @david/dmitry
    Thanks. Is there still a window between the ages of 5 and (the end of?) puberty, where lactose tolerance could impact the chance of survival to adulthood significantly or provide a perceived reproductive advantage, e.g., healthier appearance (fatter cheeks)?

  422. I thought lactase production is switched off by lack of exposure to lactose some time after weaning

    Actually I thought so too at first, that reduced exposure toggles the switch. But there are potential problems with this being the lone switch (would it switch off prematurely when the toddlers switch to mixed diet? would it never switch is the children are continuously exposed to cow milk?). The regulation may be quite complex, possibly with multiple inputs, and it’s hard to study the regulatory mechanisms because the gene is expressed specifically in small intestine. Just to measure lactose intolerance is much easier. For the age dependence of LCT expression, check e.g. Fig. 1 here:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1774763/

    (the authors mention similar results in lactose-intolerant populations, and a close correlation between the gene expression and the enzyme activity).

    Re: overall health, one hypothesis posits that it Northern Europe, milk consumption had an added benefit of increased calcium uptake because lactose improves calcium transport in the intestine. But I think that fermented milk products can do the job of supplementing calcium just fine.

  423. David Marjanović says:

    Is there still a window

    No idea.

    increased calcium uptake because lactose improves calcium transport in the intestine

    Interesting.

    fermented milk products can do the job of supplementing calcium just fine.

    They provide as much, but it still needs to be transported through the gut wall…

  424. Calcium transport through the intestinal wall is a complicated process involving specialized transporter proteins and heavily regulated by vitamin D. From the biochemical perspective, it’s not clear how a sugar might play any role. But dietology sources maintain that it helps. My initial sleuthing tracked this idea to a 1964 study in rats which didn’t replicate in the 1970s already, but kind of stuck around.

    A recent review is adamant that there’s no such effect
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6521087/

  425. Trond Engen says:

    Does the advantage have to be constant? As you all seem to agree, it’s hard to imagine a mechanism strong enough, but what if it’s about avoiding mass death on a few specific points in history? Could there be a type of disaster that took a lower toll on milk drinkers? It’s tempting to suggest that the strong, early epidemics of a cow-related disease like measles or (maybe) smallpox culled the population unevenly.

  426. Selection doesn’t have to continuous, but if its pressure is long gone, and if the trait has some costs (like expending nutrients on synthesis of an unneeded enzyme) then the frequency of the once-selected genetic variant should start dropping. Besides, your hypothesized rare catastrophic events would have needed to occur everywhere the lactose-tolerance evolved, in different epochs and different climates … in Northern Europe, in North Africa and East Africa. Everywhere where people drank unfermented milk. Isn’t it kind of Occam-appropriate to think that milk-drinking itself was sufficient to drive selection of a trait which, after all, lets people drink more milk without ill effects.

    Anyway nobody’s talking about “strong advantages”! The survival benefits of having a lactose-toleration variant are estimated to be between 1.02 and 1.06 fold (depending on the population and the estimate of the starting frequency).

  427. Trond Engen says:

    Well, I obviously haven’t thought this through. For one thing: For my disease protection scenario to work on the whole population, there would already need to be a significant number of milk drinkers, so milk drinking culture and lactase persistence would have to have developed somewhat in tandem in families, local communities or sub-cultures.

    But if instead we I imagine both milk drinking and disease protection to occur among children and adolescents? Let’s say that in some cultures kids kept drinking milk until the results became too unpleasant. Maybe this meant getting more out of the family’s resources, or maybe milk drinkers could work as cowherds in a different way and manage the stock more efficiently, or maybe milk just tasted good. Anyway, milk drinking persisted when it did. If that explains the rate, that’s the occamic “milk-drinking itself was suffcient” by cultural means.

    But what if that isn’t sufficient to explain the rate? Then I suggest that disaster may have struck and those (mostly children and adolescents) who did drink milk had a much larger survival rate. As people died in waves, resistance to the disease evolved along several pathways, and eventually lactase persistence again became only mildly advantageous, but in the meantime both lactase persistence and cultural milk drinking had increased significantly among those reaching adulthood. Both the development of children’s milk drinking and the introduction of disease may have happened at different times in different parts of the world. Or mild advantage may have been enough in some places but not all.

    And even if lactase persistence was brought to Northwest Europe by Satemic forces, we’d need to explain why it was so much more prevalent in that population to begin with.

    Dmitry: Anyway nobody’s talking about “strong advantages”!

    I read your “Selection coefficient of 0.06 is very fast in evolutionary terms” to imply “unbelievably high for selection within a closed population”. Sorry.

  428. I read your “Selection coefficient of 0.06 is very fast in evolutionary terms” to imply “unbelievably high for selection within a closed population”

    No, not unbelievably, and it isn’t fast in a real-time observer’s view (within the 3 generations of a population who are alive at the same time, one might be able to observe ~12% change in a trait frequency, which is clearly too little for an observer to notice).

    But it is still darn fast compared to the usual glacial pace of evolutionary selection. There are faster selection processes, but there, typically some new and mortally dangerous thing is involved. Like malaria, once pretty much keeping the humans away from the swampy areas, eventually put extreme section pressures on the people who dared to move towards the swamps, with the estimated selection coefficients above 0.1 (Table 1 here:)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3502258/

    A slow pace of selection typically means that it works the best with pre-exisiting variation (rather than with something mutated from scratch, from zero frequency, like in sickle cell haemoglobin), and admixture is a classic way to increase standing variation. The other classic way to boost variant frequencies is drift / founder effects. Lactose tolerance may have been relatively common in the first groups which shifted to milk-drinking, even before selection, due to drift, I suspect. But with more ancient DNA, we just might find out….

  429. I apparently didn’t develop lactose intolerance until my forties, after years and years of heavy (milk-)drinking. Nobody understands this.

  430. Lactose intolerance is not a condition of consistent severity, either from person to person or over time. One of my brothers has it much worse than I do. Moreover, my own lactose intolerance set in pretty quickly when I was six or seven, and it was quite bad for a while. However, after a few years, the severity of my condition eased back, making it much more manageable.

  431. forgive a deeply uninformed question, but is the assumption / evidence that lactose tolerance is part of (or drives) a dietary shift in populations that start off not drinking milk at all?

    that seems a little un-occam-y to me (but interesting if the evidence points that way), compared to it being quick to spread when it turns up in populations that already drink a fair amount of fermented milk, because it enables an expansion of the dairy repertoire.

  432. David Marjanović says:

    Dairy, at the very least cheese, is thousands of years older than lactose tolerance in the same places and the precursors of the same cultures. There’s just no evidence that fresh milk was consumed before it shows up in the soma ritual in India.

  433. Trond Engen says:

    If lactase persistence was common among Indo-Aryans, then milk could be used as a magic potion identifying those of divine descent.

  434. David Marjanović says:

    That sounds very useful!

  435. 95% of Mongolians are lactose intolerant even though they are traditionally nomadic pastoralists and their diet is largely based on dairy products.

    Why?

    Is it because Mongols switched to pastoralism relatively late?

    Maybe it takes several thousand years for lactose tolerance to build in a population.

  436. David Marjanović says:

    All those dairy products are fermented, right? Lactose tolerance is only an advantage when fresh milk is consumed – and when that is an advantage is the great mystery here.

  437. We are kind of going in circles with the question why and how do peoples, both ancient and contemporary, rely on dairy products while being genetically lactose intolerant.

    To recap: Fermented milk products and butter are both more practical for the pastoralists (and people of pre-refriregation era) than raw milk, and solve most of the lactose-intolerance products. Milk is perishable, bulky, hard to transport, and seasonal in traditional economies (see earlier messages). Milk curds making by the Neolithic European farmers is well documented (see earlier messages).

    What hasn’t been discussed is the fact that it’s normal for genetically lactose-intolerant people to tolerate moderate lactose consumption on a physiological level. They still can’t extract milk’s full nutritional value, but their gut microbiomes process lactose without ill effects. Some researchers even argue that continuous consumption of small levels of dietary lactose is good for them, because it keeps the lactose-digesting microflora happy (but stopping the consumption for an extended period of time starves the lactose-loving bugs and may make their human hosts physiologically intolerant).
    https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/110/2/273/5512720
    And of course the microbiome isn’t set in stone. One might kill or disturb the microorganisms in many ways, and they don’t always come back (although people like Mongols consume copious amounts of fermented milk drinks full of live-culture lactose-processing bacteria, so they may be safer than the Westerners). This is perhaps why some genetically lactose-intolerant people have a sudden, delayed onset of lactose intolerance symptoms, sometimes well into adulthood?

  438. All those dairy products are fermented, right?

    And in hunting / fishing societies it was normal to ferment many other products which we typically consume straight now: meat, fowl, fish. Both to improve storage and to soften the flesh. We’ve become too accustomed to modern storage and cooking technologies & kind of take them for granted, but once upon a time, fermentation was a catch-all technology.

  439. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry: But it is still darn fast compared to the usual glacial pace of evolutionary selection. There are faster selection processes, but there, typically some new and mortally dangerous thing is involved.

    Yes, that’s what I thought I knew.

    Dmitry again: To recap: Fermented milk products and butter are both more practical for the pastoralists (and people of pre-refriregation era) than raw milk, and solve most of the lactose-intolerance products. Milk is perishable, bulky, hard to transport, and seasonal in traditional economies (see earlier messages). Milk curds making by the Neolithic European farmers is well documented (see earlier messages).

    What hasn’t been discussed is the fact that it’s normal for genetically lactose-intolerant people to tolerate moderate lactose consumption on a physiological level.

    Which brings us back (circles upon circles) to the fact that there’s nothing special about Iron Age Northwest Europe to explain the fast selection for lactose tolerance. The nutritional benefits would have been there for millennia, and there would still be millennia before unfermented dairy products became staple food.

  440. Trond Engen says:

    Read: The potential nutritional benefits.

    Could it be that some yet unidentified property must develop before selection for lactose tolerance can begin — e.g. the ability to tolerate moderate lactose consumption with the right microbiome? Or maybe the microbiome must be developed first?

  441. there would still be millennia before unfermented dairy products became staple food

    Actually I think that Iron Age Europe was “already there”, for three reasons:
    1) cattle was grazed on the commons and returned to family barns for the night, and therefore morning and evening milking was done right at the family residence (while in a typical pastoralist society, livestock travels long distance from pasture to pasture depending on season and conditions, and the herders’ families are frequently not there).
    2) iron scythes made hay-harvesting far easier, and cows could now be fed at above-starvation level through the winter (something the hard-to make and hard-to-maintain composite scythes of earlier ages didn’t allow)
    3) kettles and stoves made boiling milk easy (although in Russia, there is still a tradition of baked milk (топлёное молоко), traditionally done in clay or cast iron pots in brick ovens; it’s slightly caramelized and keeps at room temperature for days ). Turkic peoples have a slightly similar traditional “baked” milk product too, but it’s fermented.

  442. PlasticPaddy says:

    @dp
    Is the baked milk also thicker, like condensed milk?

  443. Trond Engen says:

    I first wrote “Late Bronze Age” but realized that if the Tollense conclusions are correct, the period of selection coincides well with the Iron Age. I should have followed through on that thought.

    So the introduction of the iron cauldron and better scythes made milk both available and usable on a daily basis. The nutritional effect (on those who could both eat it without being sick and make use of the lactose) gave more surviving children, Simple and clean, but it’s still a large effect, and it doesn’t really explain why it happened in some places and not others. I guess in Northern Europe surplus milk in the porridge might have started as a mere filler when the provisions of grain and vegetables ran low in harsh winters. That’s useful in itself, but for some 10% of the children it happened to be actually beneficial, and the harsher the winter, the greater the force of selection. That may even help explain the early selection for lactose tolerance among the Arwonaeans of the east, Could milk in the food be one of those technologies that made expansion into the forest zone possible?

    Which in turn would explain why it becomes a cultural signifier and turns up in the soma ritual in India.

  444. David Marjanović says:

    Sounds pretty good to me, if milk was indeed available in winter. What are Arwonaeans?

  445. Trond Engen says:

    R1-a.

  446. David Marjanović says:

    Thread won.

  447. We recently discussed the early spread of R1a from hunters-gatherers to a succession of Bronze age culture in the Avar thread (because of the Arpad Dynasty DNA news). http://languagehat.com/they-perished-like-avars/#comment-3969536

    Fatyanovo people were the pioneers of Bronze Age in the Norther woodlands of Europe, and an early fully-R1a population. They exploited riverine meadows in the forest (and only by the end of their period, they started settling up in river divides). To adjust to the new ecology, they essentially dropped land cultivation from their economic package – and dropped cattle as well (their livestock were sheep, pigs, some goats, and they ate a lot of game and fish too).

    I haven’t checked when their successors reaquired cattle grazing, but I’m sure there are archaeological and perhaps even linguistic data, and I would love to hear from someone who knows. Did they butcher cattle in Abashevo or Sintashta? Further in East in Altai? Were the Scythians herding cattle? Are there milk curd strainers among the artifacts?

    @PlasticPaddy the Turkic-style baked milk is thicker but not as thick as condensed milk (because they heat it in open vessels and maybe a quarter or a third of liquid evaporates). They sometimes thicken it even nore with flour.

    But East Slavic baked milk isn’t thick, because it’s heated in closed pots. It’s all possible because of the huge thermal inertia of the bulky Russian stoves, which can keep near-boiling temperatures for many hours long after the fire is out. But I couldn’t figure out how old is the history of baked milk in Eastern Europe, and it’s known that the traditional brick stoves didn’t spread until after XVII c. (and the earlier stone and clay stoves weren’t as massive). Again, I’d appreciate someone who researched this history to chime in, both on stoves and on milk-baking.

  448. Dmitry Pruss says:

    PS: Google books have a reference to топленое молоко in 1834 in a familiar modern meaning, and Dahl notes its multiple regional dialectal forms (there is also варенец in Ukraine and Siberia). So it must have been old by the 1800s already, but how old? Fermented baked milk ряженка isn’t found in the books until 1940s ( ??? ) although the word sounds very archaic.

  449. There’s also a Mexican dessert called leche quemada, which sounds like this, and which gringos, at least, make with condensed milk.

  450. There is a lot of leche quemada in Brazil too, although obviously they have a different term for it. I don’t remember the Portuguese name, nor how it was calqued into English, unfortunately. (I just tried searching for it, but instead of “Brazilian sweet milk,” I accidentally made the k into an f and got some very different Google results.)

  451. As I understand, leche quemada, just like Argentine dulce de leche, are sweetened first and caramelized later. I understand that these traditions are only as old as the British canning industry’s introduction of sweetened canned milk in the Americas. In contrast, the East Slavic baked milk us unsweetened (what gets it its much paler brownish tint is the naturally present lactose being slowly caramelized in the process which may take 6 hours or more, and traditionally took place in a slowly cooling Russian stove overnight)

  452. The easiest recipe for dulce de leche is: boil in water an unopened can of condensed milk for a couple of hours.

  453. There is also a discussion of “brown cheese” which is a Norse caramelized unsweetened milk, here at the LH:
    http://languagehat.com/beowulf-antedated/#comment-3845630

    but it’s boiled down so much that it isn’t even liquid anymore

  454. The easiest recipe for lemon pudding is to add fresh lemon juice to sweetened condensed milk, but I forget the proportions.

  455. i’m going to try out some baked milk & baked kefir variations… they will be of no historical value, but i’ll report back anyway.

  456. Just as soon as lactose discussion seemed to fizzle, there is a publication of the genomic transsect of Northern Europe which I’m sure I saw as a preprint before, but didn’t pay attention to the details of their lactase persistence observations. Verbatim:

    As expected, the strongest candidates for selection are SNPs near LCT, the frequency of which increased after the Bronze Age. Our dataset traces the frequency of the lactase-persistence allele (rs4988235) and its evolution since the Bronze Age. Extended Data Figure 8b shows that Viking Age groups had very similar allele frequencies at the LCT lactase-persistence SNP to those of present-day northern European populations. Conversely, Bronze Age Scandinavian individuals, as well as individuals from central Europe associated with Corded Ware and Bell Beaker assemblages, have a low frequency of this SNP despite evidence for milk consumption. Our Iron Age samples have intermediate frequencies, which suggests a rise in lactase persistence during this period. The frequency is higher in the Bronze Age of the Baltic Sea region than in Bronze Age Scandinavia, which is consistent with gene flow between the two regions explaining the increasing frequency of lactase persistence in Scandinavia.
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2688-8

    So a combination of an Easterly gene flow and selection? The figure 8 is here
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2688-8/figures/12

    Basically Baltic Bronze Age, pre-Viking Iron Age, and some Vikings have ~50% frequency, but other Vikings already were as lactose tolerant as today’s Northern Europeans…

  457. David Marjanović says:

    From the abstract:

    “By comparing with modern populations, we find that pigmentation-associated loci have undergone strong population differentiation during the past millennium”

    I’ll have to read the paper ASAP.

  458. @DM, it’s no news that appearance kept evolving strongly and recently, and likely out of proportion with the biological effects like vitamin D or sunburn resistance. I have a nagging suspicion that we already discussed it here. Perhaps Trond remembers where.

    Basically in the recent millennia, Europeans were already white enough to give them the vitamin D advantages, but they still kept getting whiter at a furious speed, and became most white of the Earth’s populations.

    Perhaps in parallel, Africans of the Upper Nile are the darkest skin population on Earth, and they turn out to have evolved that way only in the recent 2 millennia. I posted a link in the Nilo-Saharan thread, I believe, albeit probably without mentioning the recent evolutionary facet. Again, it’s unlikely that they would have had strong biological advantages in this process because they were already very dark skinned.

    The Viking paper also touches on hair color, in two ways. The stronger effect genetic factors turn out to be strongly selected for fair hair in recent 1000 years, but so did more numerous minor effect variants (the Vikings had on average over 60 minor factors of hair darkness, compared to about 40 in the Scandinavians today) (evolutionary trends in the individual low-effect variants are understandably weak, but as a group of genetic variants, they too underwent a statistically significant shift).

    My preferred explanation for all 3 observations is sexual selection rather than natural one. Just seeking more desirable partners / parents for more desirable children. A recent UK Biobank study of genetic reproductive success factors made no doubt that partner selection still goes on today, and in a predictably sexually biased fashion, with females selected more for the looks, and males, also for intelligence and psychological stability. On the statistical level, of course.

    One small note of caution. Skin color genetic predictions are developed the best in the Europeans. A recent Russian study claims that Siberian populations have several additional skin color variants, not previously know in Europeans, so to some extent, ancient Norse peoples may be imprecisely described by the standard predictor formulas because of their partial Siberian like ancestry. But it’s not supposed to change things much.

  459. My preferred explanation for all 3 observations is sexual selection rather than natural one. Just seeking more desirable partners / parents for more desirable children.

    That doesn’t make much sense to me. Female elk select the biggest male antlers because they ‘believe’ that this is a sign of higher reproductive fitness. But how can white or dark skin be a sign of reproductive fitness, other than in the sense of natural selection (vitamin D vs. sunburn)? Which is circular.

  460. My preferred explanation for all 3 observations is sexual selection rather than natural one. Just seeking more desirable partners / parents for more desirable children.

    That doesn’t make much sense to me. Female elk select the biggest male antlers because they ‘believe’ that this is a sign of higher reproductive fitness. But how can white or dark skin be a sign of reproductive fitness, other than in the sense of natural selection (vitamin D vs. sunburn)? Which is circular.

    Ahem. What if it’s the males who select, more than the females?

  461. @John Cowan: There is no reason that sexual selection has to select for traits that are in any way an improvement in fitness, sexual or otherwise. In fact, the purest “sexual” selection would be for traits that have no external value at all, except that males and females have co-evolved to prefer them in their partners. If people prefer to mate with lighter-skinned partners, then the population will tend to trend toward lighter skin, even if skin tone is actually a neutral factor in terms of all biological fitness metrics. The preference for light skin in reproductive partners does not even need to have a genetic basis in itself; if the population is embedded in a culture that has an aesthetic preference for whiter skin, there will be sexual selection pressure in favor of paler complexion.

  462. David Marjanović says:

    Mutual sexual selection (both sexes selecting for the same feature in each other) is, in any case, a known phenomenon.

  463. if the population is embedded in a culture that has an aesthetic preference for whiter skin

    It doesn’t even have to be universally aesthetic. People may be making quite conscious choices, “if my children by X will be more likely to marry and succeed than children by Y, then I should marry X for the children’s sake” (in the same category of things as a desire to marry up in class and social connectivity).

    Whiter skin in the easy-to-tan population may have been a social rather than purely aesthetic marker, simply an indication that its bearer doesn’t have to toil as hard in the fields.

  464. Dmitry Pruss says:

    PS In India where the lighter skin color was primarily a marker of high birth, and where the Southern Sun was fierce, some of the traditional rules especially skillfully used the fact that tanning can be controlled to amplify the genetic effects.
    Like making umbrellas the privilege of the highest castes, or banning the lowest ones from wearing Sun-shielding clothes or hats.

    I suspect that any hereditary appearance differences between the ruling group and the outsiders may be converted in such a mixed aesthetics-and-social-marker preference. Maybe that’s why the Nilo-Saharan peoples of the Nile, whose neighbors were the lighter-shades-of-black Sudanese and Ethiopian peoples, developed a preference for the ultra-black?

  465. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Being able to stay out of the sun was seen a marker of economic or hierarchical success, and thus desirable. Proof: Snow White. I don’t think Prince Charming’s skin colour is specified but if nothing else, women who wanted their daughters to be successfully married could choose the pastiest suitor.

    It makes a lot of sense to me that the strong selection for pasty white skin started when societies ‘progressed’ beyond the stage where the chieftain (and his wife) also farmed his own land.

  466. David Eddyshaw says:

    It all reminds me of these words from a Kusaasi folk tale about three robbers roaming the bush seeking a victim:

    daba anu daar ba nye ne lallisa ka si’el zie sabili wuu nidne

    “On the fifth day they saw something standing far off, black like a human being …”

  467. I now seem to find myself [AntC] on acadamia.edu’s mailing/spamming list.

    Which keeps serving up more insults to actual comparativists from this Fournet pestilence.

    he [Fournet] has detailed knowledge of linguistic facts and literature, but like other crackpots, he is mostly impervious to argument and not only deeply convinced that he is right, but that anybody disagreeing with him is either a fraud or an idiot,

    He and Bomhard (I suspect mostly Fournet) have responded to Kassian’s cool and measured review. Their opening salvo is “the authors would also like to state that, in their opinion, the review is biased and definitely cannot be considered an objective assessment of their work. … the reviewer supports a counter-position that clearly prejudices him …”.

    F&B’s next paragraph goes on to concede Kassian’s main two points, that their comparative methodology failed to compare to the closest sister-language to Hurrian; and that they’ve failed to consult “some recent works”.

    D’uh so Kassian is ‘prejudiced’ because he’s looked at more evidence.

    I won’t put a link here, because I wouldn’t wish Academia.edu on anybody’s Inbox. The title is “Response to Alexei Kassian’s review of ‘The Indo-European Elements in Hurrian'”.

    P.S. It’s astonishing how many Academia papers are authored by somebody with my surname — which has a relatively rare spelling. AFAIK I have no long-lost cousins who share the same initial. What’s the chances they’re professors of organic chemistry or fluid mechanics? I don’t get Academia’s marketing model: if those papers were by me, wouldn’t I already know I’d written a paper? Is appearing on Academia some sort of rarely-bestowed privilege? Not, judging by the sort of fisticuffs Fournet seems to get published.

  468. Trond Engen says:

    A lot of things happening again while I’m busy elsewhere. I hope I’ll have time to read the paper and look for the other discussion(s) later today.

    I think the reason why I find the “Daily paper” useful is that I’ve recently been widening my reading in archaeology, and the service finds good and relevant papers that I haven’t already read. That may soon pass. The suggestions for papers in historical linguistics are almost always crackpottery. There’s obviously a lot of interesting stuff I haven’t seen, but Academia’s algorithm can’t figure that out.

  469. Trond Engen says:

    I still haven’t had time to read the paper. The recent paper with phenotype data hinting at a surprisingly recent evolution of the “Nordic” physical type was Saag et al 2020 discussed in the Avar thread. The summary table is at the very end.

  470. I’ve never published a scholarly work, and yet I get told there are 20,000 papers (or some similar figure) that mention me, in hopes I’ll be suckered into paying.

    Alex Manaster Ramer added himself a week or so ago to the short list of linguists who ask me to comment on their papers, Martin Haspelmath being the only other such linguist so far. I tend to point out typos or grammar errors or else argue with other commenters.

  471. I don’t get Academia’s marketing model: if those papers were by me, wouldn’t I already know I’d written a paper?
    I don’t think the main point is to show you papers that you authored and uploaded to academia yourself – that would indeed be pointless. But these overviews never show me the one paper I authored and uploaded there. The idea seems to be that you can see when other people upload your papers, or papers you co-authored, or papers in which your name is mentioned. Now, someone with my last name seems to be big in molecular biology and agricultural sciences, so I get to see a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with me, but every now and then my contribution to one of the linguistic discussions JC mentions is referred to, which is nice.

  472. Alexei Kassian’s review of AF’s work with Allan Bomhard is remarkably measured, considering (Kassian being a genuine expert in such matters.)

    Kassian is fast becoming my hero for saint-like patience. Academia has just fed me his review of a claim that Basque is Indo-European. To be a little more precise: Pre-Proto-Basque, speculatively reconstructed at a time depth of ~2,000 years is cognate with Proto-Italico-Celtic. Beware Academia link.

    The author (Forni) of this claim is (surprise!) not a linguist nor Comparativist. (His trade is not even as useful as auto-engineer.) Forni acknowledges the non-IE-ness of Basque is conventional wisdom: this is sufficient grounds that it must therefore be false. The complete absence of any morphological parallels is dismissed as non-evidence, on the grounds English (in less time) has lost nearly all IE-like morphology. Harrumph.

    Kassian patiently debunks the (actually tiny number of) comparands claimed from the core Swadesh list. We see the (by now) familiar tactics of appealing to unusual and ad-hoc phonetic changes; appeals to vocab from randomly-selected IE languages when P-I-C doesn’t match; randomly dragging in phonemes from suffixes when the stem doesn’t help; …

    Kassian does agree there are some cognates. These are (well-known or long-suspected) borrowings _from_ Basque to Celtic. So as typically, Forni’s one-eyed focus on Basque/lack of Comparative discipline invalidates his methodology.

    Doesn’t Kassian have a day job? He’s clearly put a lot of effort into the rebuttal, including some interesting modelling of how likely Basque could be related to Proto-Celtic (remote chance) vs Proto-Celtic to Albanian (quite likely). I’m sure Kassian’s considerable learning could be put to better use.

  473. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    Well, that’s the question, isn’t it…

    Some think that if you ignore the quacks while you sit in your ivory tower, one day you are likely to wake up to a dismaying number of people believing in quackery.

    Then again, what if you just give them more credibility by spending your time debunking what any undergraduate should know is obviously wrong.

  474. David Marjanović says:

    Doesn’t Kassian have a day job?

    I would guess he has tenure.

    I’m sure Kassian’s considerable learning could be put to better use.

    And it has been; check out the rest of his papers on academia.edu by just clicking on the author’s name at the top of the page.

    what if you just give them more credibility

    This fear is one of the few things that are fundamentally wrong with Western culture and have got to stop.

    There is this idea that talking to somebody gives them +1 Klingon honor points automatically, no matter what you’re saying to them. I, for one, am not a Klingon; I don’t care. When I talk to someone, that means I have something to comment on what they said; it means nothing about what I think their social standing should be. Why would it? Why even make that illogical leap from statement to person?

    SIWOTI syndrome is a much better basis for a society.

    any undergraduate should know

    Any undergraduate in historical linguistics will know. That’s not what Forni is, and it’s not what any of his potential believers are.

    Just last year the philosopher Jean-Ives Demoule stirred up a media controversy in France by claiming that Indo-European is 1) obviously wrong and 2) built on nothing but 19th-century racism. Say nothing, and you might “wake up to a dismaying number of people” who not just believe in quackery, but vote accordingly.

  475. Alexei Kassian
    Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Department of Anatolian and Celtic Languages, Faculty Member

    https://iling-ran.academia.edu/AlexeiKassian

    The Russian version of their website says he is старший научный сотрудник (senior researcher)

  476. PlasticPaddy says:

    @dm
    You seem to believe in debate as a dialectic process where a synthesis is ultimately achieved (or wrong ideas are discarded). Some debaters do not seem to share this belief, as inferred from their habits of (1) clinging to views inconsistent with a large and growing body of evidence, (2) refusing to deal with objections (except by questioning the motives of the objector), (3) rejecting established building blocks of a discipline in favour of wrong or unfalsifiable substitutes, (4) citing superseded or speculative publications as “state-of-the-art”, etc.

  477. David Marjanović says:

    Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter!

    You seem to believe in debate

    As a scientist, I believe debate is whatcha put on de hook to catch de fish. Instead, a public written discussion has an audience, and much of the audience is worth reaching. Trolls, indeed, should be fed till they explode.

    The two of us aren’t having a private conversation here. It’s accessible to anyone with an Internet connection and a middling grasp of English – that’s two billion people.

  478. Yes, I definitely believe in countering false statements for the benefit of whoever has eyes to see; that’s one of the goals of LH.

  479. Say nothing, and you might “wake up to a dismaying number of people” who not just believe in quackery, but vote accordingly.

    Em there is already a dismaying number of people like that. There was in the U.S. in 2016: we might point out Trump lost the popular vote; I’m dismayed so many as 46% voted for Trump (of those who voted). 4 years on with overwhelming evidence of both Trump’s quackery and its total inability to fix anything, there’s a dismaying number of people still supporting Trump.

    I would like to believe that saying something, or at least saying the right things would persuade people. But (to talk from personal experience) the mode of using scientific rationalism — that almost everybody observes round here — just seems to rub believers in quackery up the wrong way, and confirm their beliefs stronger.

    That’s why I mentioned Forni’s argument that the ‘conventional wisdom’ must ipso facto be wrong. I can only think that ‘rationale’ is the explanation for the dismaying numbers of flat-earthers. The ‘experts’ who command ‘facts’ are ipso facto lying to promote their self-interests — and the evidence is that they’re experts and that they use a mode of appealing to facts. Therefore the opposite of their ‘facts’ must be the truth: wearing masks won’t help; COVID can’t kill you; lockdowns don’t save lives or ease stress on health services; etc.

    It’s a self-reinforcing closed loop. Your saying something might salve your conscience that you at least tried; for those already believing in the quackery, it’ll just drive them deeper in; your looking at them with disbelief likewise; then saying nothing probably will be just as effective in rescuing them.

    I don’t know what the answer is. I certainly understand the rise in ‘citizen scientists’ and those questioning some ‘experts’ on some ‘facts’. I certainly see Big Pharma lying about health issues to promote their self-interests (opioid epidemic). Public Health authorities are going to have a hell of a job getting enough people vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. By the time there’s a proven safe, effective vaccine, COVID will have run its course in nearly every country: there’ll be continual cycles of resurgence-lockdown-economic pain-premature reopening.

    There’ll be a handful of countries left that COVID hasn’t ravaged. They will then be the pariahs: nobody can come to New Zealand, so our tourism industry will flatline; we can’t leave the country, because we won’t be allowed back in even if we travel to another of the handful. Our export trades will dwindle as we’re unable to send representatives to promote and to monitor distribution.

  480. Em there is already a dismaying number of people like that.

    You’re making the all-too-common mistake of supposing that if something doesn’t cure the entire world, it’s not worth doing. Of course most people will carry on their merry way, but if even one person has their mind changed by seeing the facts laid out, it was worth taking the trouble. It is simply not the case that everyone who isn’t educated in science (like we happy few) is one undifferentiated mass of morons who actually prefer the taste of quackery. Everyone is different.

  481. Stu Clayton says:

    Everyone is different

    So in that respect everyone is the same. Like snowflakes.

  482. Some are flakier than others, of course.

  483. Dmitry Pruss says:

    Linguistics is an ages-old magnet for quacks, because, as everyone knows, speaking languages is exactly the same as understanding them, But it doesn’t come even close in the level of ignorance and disregard of facts as the big political lie or some segments of medical quackery. Generally in the outlandish theories in language and archaeology, some tenuous connection with the facts and the concepts never completely fades away, and it makes refuting them a far less hopeless exercise than, say, refuting a political misstatement.

  484. This discussion makes me feel very ambivalent. On the one hand I definitely sympathize with David’s view on the worth of open debate and discussion to further science. But on the other I am far, FAR more pessimistic than he seems to be when it comes to how possible it is to change people’s minds via rational debate. I suspect the difference between linguistics and biology/paleontology is partly to blame: the latter field is far enough removed from the daily preoccupations and sense of identity of most people that debates within the field can be approached by all, including interested outsiders, SINE IRA ET STUDIO. The former, on the other hand, has as its object of study something few human beings are indifferent to.

    As a result linguistics is not only an age-old magnet for quacks, as Dmitry Pruss just put it upthread: it is also a field whose core findings are rejected by most academic non-linguists (As I once told a cousin of mine who is an astrophysicist, at least your non-astrophysicist colleagues do not as a rule believe the Earth is flat). I have worked at several Universities and spoken with a great many people in them, grad students and faculty alike. I like to think (perhaps I am flattering myself) that I know linguistics well enough to make a convincing if not airtight case. And yet I am quite certain that NOT ONE of those academic non-linguists I spoke with believed anything I told them about linguistics (forget my own work, I am talking about the sort of thing undergraduates in linguistics are taught).

    To scholars in literature the notion that standard written languages are not inherently superior to non-standard/unwritten languages seems self-evidently absurd; to anthropologists working on any region/ethnic group claims that the language(s) of “their” region/group originally came from elsewhere is treated as groundless speculation at best and at worst as pure heresy; to historians the very notion that borrowings in a language can be dated in relative and (sometimes) absolute terms seems incomprehensible (despite the obvious relevance of this aspect of linguistics to their own field). To EVERYONE the entire notion of an objective reality (relating to language or to anything else), aspects of which can be demonstrated, appears as alien as a perfectly symmetrical black monolith on the moon.

    And a growing number of “theoretical” linguists seem to be as utterly ignorant. I was attending a linguistics student colloquium late last year, where a few talks sought to explain a number of instances of language change by means of a brand new, cutting age system of advanced witchcr–err, I mean formalism. During the coffee break (The best part of this colloquium: the coffee and the pastries, which were excellent. Unlike the talks, sadly) I was so bold as to point out to a fellow attendee that most of the changes examined were known or suspected instances of outside influence upon the languages in question, meaning that the relevance of their formal approach seemed a little dubious, to put it mildly. Well. The fellow attendee did not understand the nature of my objection (it was not couched by means of the trendy formalism, and therefore was irrelevant: QED) and was so offended (despite their lack of comprehension) that they asked I not attend their own talk, you know, on account of my “negativity” (I agreed, quite glad that I could drink good coffee and eat good pastries without having to expose my ears to more meaningless drivel).

    And that, David and other fellow hatters, is why I participate less and less in debates within the hattery: it seems the height of hubris to assume my words could, on-line, change people’s minds when experience has taught me that, in person, my words have changed nobody’s.

    P.S. David: It’s “Jean-PAUL Demoule”, and he is an archeologist by training, not a philosopher.

  485. And yet I am quite certain that NOT ONE of those academic non-linguists I spoke with believed anything I told them about linguistics

    That’s sad. But I have converted several non-academic non-linguists, so I do not despair. Yet.

  486. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    To scholars in literature the notion that standard written languages are not inherently superior to non-standard/unwritten languages seems self-evidently absurd; to anthropologists working on any region/ethnic group claims that the language(s) of “their” region/group originally came from elsewhere is treated as groundless speculation at best and at worst as pure heresy; to historians the very notion that borrowings in a language can be dated in relative and (sometimes) absolute terms seems incomprehensible (despite the obvious relevance of this aspect of linguistics to their own field).

    Oh, come on… surely, things can’t be this bad?

    Anyway, I wanted to add, I may not have the solution, but I definitely think people who David describes should be canonized. There are few things I admire more than the ability to patiently argue, day in day out, with the endless Somebodies Who Are Wrong On The Internet.

  487. Yes indeed.

  488. And that, David and other fellow hatters, is why I participate less and less in debates within the hattery: it seems the height of hubris to assume my words could, on-line, change people’s minds when experience has taught me that, in person, my words have changed nobody’s.

    @Etienne please do continue to participate within the Hattery. This is the place we all do come to get our minds changed through knowledge and the facts your words point out. I would like to say: practice here in a supportive listening environment before trying in less receptive forums.

    I wrote the long comment above arising from encountering our local NZ conspiracy theorists/political party (election next month). COVID doesn’t exist and/or it’s a little flu and/or it’s a pretext for dark forces to restrict our freedoms. They’d got all this from precisely the Somebodies Who Are Wrong On The Internet — mostly American-sponsored sites, so whacky as to be eschewed even by Fox News. Again the attraction is that it’s bucking the conventional wisdom/what the experts are saying — so it must be right.

    Never mind explaining complicated linguistic processes, how do you explain the complicated trajectory of a disease, especially when the science is having to guess so much with COVID? The delays from contact to incubation to being infectious to symptoms (if any) to getting very ill/dying. The poor and inconsistent data-capture meaning that whenever I quote numbers they can be scoffed at. And that bloody stupid piece early on by John Ioannidis of all people — of course none of these sites carry his retraction/regrets over it.

  489. Part of me agrees: such individuals are admirable. But I cannot admire them without a couple of quotations surfacing in my mind:

    -“If a grasshopper tries to fight a lawnmower, one may admire his courage but not his judgement.” -Robert A. Heinlein.

    -“Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens” -Friedrich Schiller.

    Andrej Bjelaković: However bad the situation in fact is (obviously no single individual can know this), unfortunately my impression is that it is growing systematically worse. One thing I find most disturbing is that the younger a scholar is the MORE likely they are to reject any/all new thoughts and/or ideas.

    Related to this is the fact that younger scholars seem especially sensitive to matters of ideological rectitude: any idea which is perceived by any of them as being racist, sexist, classist, heteronormative, essentialist (ADD WHATEVER IDEOLOGICAL SIN WAS BEING CONDEMNED WHEN YOUNG SCHOLAR IN QUESTION WAS DOING THEIR DOCTORATE) or some combination thereof is considered false. Not morally wrong: false. Ideological purity and objective truth are so fused in their minds that I have sometimes wondered whether a historian specializing in Stalinism or Maoism might not have better luck than me in understanding all too many of them.

    My suspicion (for whatever that is worth) is that with the ever-poorer job prospects for PhD’s and the growing economic difficulties connected with obtaining a degree (The debt load of most younger PhD holders would make a financial planner shudder) the ones who actually graduate in the end are very unusually single-minded. The lucky few who obtain stable academic positions will have every incentive not to stick out in any way, since they will assume (often rightly) that they owe their position to their unconditional adherence to whatever orthodoxy was dominant in their graduate program. Also, in the age of the internet and of academic overspecialization it is quite a simple matter not to be exposed to opposing views. All these factors make it all too easy to take that one step from extreme single-mindedness to utter fanaticism…

  490. Lars Mathiesen says:

    I’m sure academia.com will be much pleased to sell you a download pack of 50 PDFs that support the views of your graduate advisor.

    As for the world at large, rational argument clearly doesn’t bite hard enough. Maybe the only the hope is that the sheeple actually wake up and apply the guns they have been buying at Walmart where they will effect a change.

    How many people actually visit here on a regular basis?

  491. David Marjanović says:

    I suspect the difference between linguistics and biology/paleontology is partly to blame: the latter field is far enough removed from the daily preoccupations and sense of identity of most people that debates within the field can be approached by all, including interested outsiders, SINE IRA ET STUDIO. The former, on the other hand, has as its object of study something few human beings are indifferent to.

    To some extent, yes; “the closer you get to humans, the worse the science gets” holds all across biology as well as outside of it.

    But, in less busy years, I talked about evolution for so many hours with enough undereducated people, often creationists, that I can’t be that pessimistic.

    P.S. David: It’s “Jean-PAUL Demoule”, and he is an archeologist by training, not a philosopher.

    Thanks. I wasn’t sure about the name, but was too lazy to look it up. I was somehow convinced he was a philosopher; that he’s an archeologist gives him a perfectly understandable motivation, so that basically all he needs to be convinced of is that prehistory is not going to go back to the 1930s paradigm of “every change from one type of pot to another is proof of a bloody conquest”.

    My suspicion (for whatever that is worth) is that with the ever-poorer job prospects for PhD’s and the growing economic difficulties connected with obtaining a degree (The debt load of most younger PhD holders would make a financial planner shudder) the ones who actually graduate in the end are very unusually single-minded.

    That’s likely.

    COVID doesn’t exist and/or it’s a little flu and/or it’s a pretext for dark forces to restrict our freedoms.

    “And”. Always “and”. Like with global warming: it doesn’t exist, and it’s the sun’s fault, and we’re doing it but it’s actually a good thing, and it’s actually a bad thing but changing “everything” would be even worse, and it’s too late to do anything about it anyway, and look, 1998 was almost as hot as 2010, so it’s over now, and it never happened. I’m not sure if I’ve seen the same person cycle through all of these in the same argument, but people definitely shift between two or three a lot.

    I’m sure academia.com will be much pleased to sell you a download pack of 50 PDFs that support the views of your graduate advisor.

    Joke’s on them, your graduate advisor has already given them all to you, and more, for free.

  492. AntC: Thank you for your kind words. I definitely will continue to participate here at the hattery, and certainly did not wish to suggest I was on my way out: merely that my motivation, when it comes to convincing outsiders of certain basic findings made in linguistics, has taken a bit of a beating. Incidentally, as a reader I am as engaged as ever, and indeed suspect much if not most of what I know about (inter alia) Russian and Soviet history and literature, American and British intellectual history, Scandinavian and Central + Eastern European culture and literature I learned here. And I am sure I am going to learn more here, on these and other topics.

    David, Hat: I do not mean to sound gloomy or unduly negative…but, of the people you have “converted”, how many do you know have not subsequently slid back into their older opinions? I ask because, well, we human beings are social primates sensitive to hierarchies, after all: meaning that, however many rational arguments we can muster and have mustered over the course of explaining something (be it of a linguistic or of an evolutionary nature), the sum of these arguments will ultimately weigh less, far less than the opinion of the other experts our “converts” wil interact with.

  493. David Eddyshaw says:

    @Etienne:

    I too would be most sorry to see you go. You are one of a very select few that I sometimes deliberately attempt to provoke into posting, and you long since convinced me (for example) that my knowledge of creolistics was seriously lacking.

    Also, we have a severe shortage of Francophones. You can never have too many Francophones.

  494. You’re making the all-too-common mistake of supposing that if something doesn’t cure the entire world, it’s not worth doing.

    Lots of quacky religious sects believe that. They are converting people to the truth.

    Incidentally I came across a dumb comment at a distinctly rightish humour site, something to the effect that Covid is a disease so deadly the we have to test people to find out whether they have it, ha ha.

  495. I do not mean to sound gloomy or unduly negative…but, of the people you have “converted”, how many do you know have not subsequently slid back into their older opinions?

    As the saying is, “A man convinced against his will / Is of the same opinion still.” That’s by Samuel Butler (the 17C poet, not the 19C novelist). Except it’s one of those virtuous misquotations. The text of Hudibras says “He that complies” etc., which is a banality: of course people who do what they are told even though they disagree with it are unlikely to change their minds as a result. It has none of the paradox, wit, and force of “convinced against his will”, which, since it lacks a genuine source, has been duly attributed to the Internet’s usual gang of idiots quote-magnets.

    I will add that you have often convinced me that I was in error, and it often was much against my will to admit it, but your arguments were too compelling for me to ignore. It may well be, though, that in some of these cases I have relapsed, because I forgot your arguments and remembered only my mere opinions.

  496. Etienne–

    Your pessimism about the drearily expanding imperium of a succession of increasingly orthodox orthodoxies is entirely, painfully shared. While literary studies might not be worse than linguistics, I’m sure it’s at least as bad. Still, I also urge you not to despair, and not just because they can’t mow down every grasshopper in the field.

    One thought that has kept me sane, at least, is precisely that same galling malleability of so many obviously brilliant people. That social pressure so regularly results in curious minds becoming one-note Geiger-counters for “WHATEVER IDEOLOGICAL SIN WAS BEING CONDEMNED WHEN YOUNG SCHOLAR IN QUESTION WAS DOING THEIR DOCTORATE” is surely also a promise that, someday, upcoming generations will refuse to be so shaped, no? The sheer pressure being applied to bend people is in some sense a tacit admission of people’s unreliability in staying bent without that pressure, and no pressure can be applied perpetually. I would probably agree that it’s going to get worse before it gets better, but that all downward trajectories stop at some nadir is somewhat hope-sustaining, no? I’m not the only one who has taken heart from your posts here, even when for months at a time I have held myself to lurking. Personally, even your pessimistic post above is somewhat heartening: the pastries being more edifying than the talk is an experience I can relate to! And having company is not the least species of comfort.

  497. From The Grauniad‘s advice

    3. Don’t take the bait to have brawls on the internet about the cults. Arguing the facts of an issue can have the effect of entrenching conspiracy attitudes in peers who may dig in to save face and defend their public social status.

    Ok QAnon’s theories are fact-free as compared with claims about the IE-ness of Basque or the fraudulence of IE altogether. Never the less I see the same ‘digging in’ in the face of counter-evidence.

    And I’m not persuaded by Badham’s next point “Don’t you think there’d be more evidence out there if this were true?” The bunch I encountered gave me a whole sheet of website references. (Yes they were all to conspiracy theorist organisations — if you dig in to who is behind the websites, and of course if you believed wikipedia and its citations over the organisations’ own claims. But of course it’s too easy to misconstrue the equally easy to find criticisms of wikipedia.)

  498. Lars Mathiesen says:

    I spent a slow morning at work reading through the links a colleague sent me about the verifiable threat to humanity that 5G telephony is supposed to pose. It took me 30 minutes to find a falsifiable claim, and guess what? It was false as stated. (But of course it looked true if you didn’t understand what pointance is and how the FCC measures it).

    My preconceptions confirmed, I then stopped reading.

  499. surely also a promise that, someday, upcoming generations will refuse to be so shaped, no?

    Yes indeed, and it’s important to keep that in mind. This too shall pass.

    (Comment #500!)

  500. This too shall pass.

    “Things changed. They got worse.”

  501. David Marjanović says:

    Und aus dem Chaos sprach eine Stimme zu mir und sagte: Lächle und sei froh, es könnte schlimmer kommen! Und ich lächelte und war froh, und es kam schlimmer.

    “And out of the chaos a voice spake unto me, and said, Smile and be happy, it could be worse! And I smiled and was happy, and it got worse.”

  502. Things changed. They got worse.

    And then they got better again. If this were not the case, human history would have ended long ago. I am not advocating for blind optimism but for a recognition that things revert to a mean.

  503. Re: conspiracy theories

    I am of firm belief that all these outrageous conspiracy theories out there are invented by special Disinformation Department hiding somewhere within the US intelligence community in order to distract people’s attention from real government conspiracies.

  504. Lars Mathiesen says:

    David, he’s on to you.

  505. Which David? We have lots. We also have our very own Hattic conspiracy theory(plex), involving Wolgemot, Bielefeld, Winnipeg, the Humument, Nantucket, the Red River of the North, the mustard mines in the Tyrol, the Carinthian dual, victory in Hue, Parvulesco, rye bread (national varieties of), hot drinks, leonophagy, tunnels through the earth, and hanging questions.

  506. Things changed. They got worse.

    Julia Ioffe quoted a Russian saying of her father today:

    “On average, we live pretty well: worse than last year, but definitely better than next year.”

  507. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Which? — I’m sure David knows.

  508. one point of pessimism and two of optimism:

    the structures of academic labor in the u.s. & canada (can’t speak for anywhere else) are a lot of what creates the kinds of patterns Etienne described at that colloquium. there are vanishingly few faculty jobs out there; to have any chance of getting one you need publications; journals & presses won’t publish anything from non-big-names that doesn’t wrap itself in a foamy cloud of Big!New!Thing! – so collaborative relationships are discouraged, shallow engagement with existing work is encouraged, presenting the appearance of novelty is enforced, etc. i don’t see those dynamics changing until/unless the tertiary education system is thoroughly restructured. (which seems less implausible right now than it used to!)

    but: i see all of that resisted most by scholars in the humanities fields where job prospects were decimated in the 1980s and 90s, making the fantasy of getting a tenure track job so absurd that it’s less present to drive competition. in the ‘harder’ social sciences and beyond (a decade or two behind on the roller-coaster) where folks are still clinging to the idea that there’s job security out there somewhere, it’s a lot worse. which gives me hope that things may improve in linguistics, sociology, etc…

    and: in the little microcosm that is the non-hasidic yiddish world, i see a lot more thoughtfulness and engagement with solid linguistic work now than ten or twenty years ago, especially among the folks in their 20s and 30s. as much as i shout about the prescriptivists at YIVO, even the younger folks in that zone are much more open to other approaches than in the past (and even to critiques of weinreich, schaechter, and the other gaonim). and i hasten to add: though there are some academic linguists in the mix, and it’s hard to end up engaging with yiddish without having at least some critical relationship to language-as-such, it’s a world made up mostly of folks without formal linguistics backgrounds, who’re usually more autodidactic than not.

  509. Thanks, I actually feel marginally better now!

  510. David Marjanović says:

    in order to distract people’s attention from real government conspiracies

    “Disinformation is real. Disinformation is necessary.”
    GRU Q

  511. Thanks, I actually feel marginally better now!

    Naturally. Smullyan once asked a colleague why it was that he (Smullyan) loved to read Schopenhauer and the other classical pessimists so much. The colleagure replied, “Naturally! You know it isn’t true.”

  512. spending your time debunking what any undergraduate should know is obviously wrong

    On the contrary, I think debunkings like this are rather more worthwhile — most undergraduates could not point out the problems well enough in Forni’s work to legitimately convince themselves that it cannot work. They could at most appeal to a heuristic rule that it looks like one more entry in the pile of spurious Basque-Whatever comparisons. Which however actually proves too much: consider e.g. “Hungarian has been compared with anything from Sumerian to Japanese, therefore its supposed Uralic affiliation also has to be false”. Relationship discoveries are sometimes made, and always siding with earlier consensus is a good way to be mostly right but occasionally catastrophically wrong. This resonates somewhat, I think, with Etienne’s observation about conservativism among younger scholars.

    But I do like comparing Forni’s work with the competing Basque-IE proposal from Blevins — or, why not, I’ve seen even a third, lower-profile and less fleshed-out version from Fournet — and note that they disagree on almost all details without substantially disagreeing on how is it a relationship ought to be demonstrated. E.g. all three think there’s a Basque cognate of PIE *yekʷr̥ ‘liver’. According to Forni this would be gibel ‘id.’ (with this being his sole example of an alleged sound law *y > g and one of only two for *kʷ > b); according to Fournet the direct cognate would be -ge- in the dialectal variant bigel, with a typical body part prefix *bi- and an unclear suffix -l, and the literary variant resulting from metathesis; according to Blevins the cognate would be a root *ikʰur ‘gland’, found as far as I can tell only as a fossilized morpheme in a few words like asikuren ‘glands’ (derived by Trask instead from a base asi-, given other dialect variants like asikuna, asikontxo). All clearly not compelling, but for interestingly different reasons. (Worst though not the only problems: Forni: ad hoc phonology; Fournet: ad hoc pre-Basque morphology; Blevins: ad hoc within-Basque morphology.)

  513. Excellent points and examples!

  514. Bengtson connects Basque gibel to “Proto-North-Caucasian” *ƛ’ʷäHälV ‘liver’.

  515. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry (2020-09-66):

    Just as soon as lactose discussion seemed to fizzle, there is a publication of the genomic transsect of Northern Europe which I’m sure I saw as a preprint before, but didn’t pay attention to the details of their lactase persistence observations.

    […]

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2688-8

    Full preprint at ResearchGate.

    I have read it now. It raises more questions than it answers, which is interesting, but which I guess is to be expected when the evidence becomes more fine-grained. Many of the questions would be about the surprisingly large intra-Scandinavian genetic variation (or maybe rather differentiation). There are stories to be untangled and told — some still not finished at the time of the first written sources, without anyone actually writing them down at the time. But here are a few starts:

    It does seem very likely that migration across the Baltic in the pre-Viking Iron Age could be important for the spread of lactose tolerance to Scandinavia, and maybe other genetic markers of modern Scandinavians, but, as they say, the data from the Iron Age aren’t fine-grained enough yet to say much about timing and dispersion. A population influx with this impact should also carry culture. Did it?

    Close relatives are found in distant locations — showing high mobility but also underlining that the surviving genomes may stem from a very narrow class of people. What does that mean for the interpretation?

    The Smålanders apparently look like unassimilated aboriginals — but I can’t really read that out of the plots in the paper.

    The raiders buried in their boats in Estonia are more prototypically Swedish and less diverse than their contemporaries buried in Sweden.

    The genetic influx from the British Isles was larger in Northern Norway and the mountains of Southern Norway. It’s probably just an artefact of the sampling, but what if it was the Finns?

  516. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks! I edited the links a few times more than Akismet would accept. I see there are still a few editing errors, but I’ll live with those.

    Unassimilated Smålanders: According to Snorri, the Norwegian king Sigurðr Jórsalafari conducted a crusade to Småland in 1123. This has been seen as a bragging account of what was really a plundering raid across the border to keep his soldiers happy, or as a misunderstanding by later scribes of a name relating to a region in the still heathen Eastern Baltic. But if Smålanders were still unassimilated at the outset of the Viking Age, it’s not unthinkable that they were still perceived as culturally and ethnically distinct a few centuries later, at least to a degree that made a raid defensible.

    A point I forgot to mention: Orkney, Shetland and the Faroes seem to have had very little genetic input from Norway in the Viking Age, but rather be populated by culturally assimilated British. This could be a result of few samples, but it could also be a lack of samples from Western Norway, missing older “British” ancestry in Scandinavia itself.

    Also, the maps in the paper show very little Scandinavian ancestry on the Scottish mainland. I have no idea how they came to that conclusion. It seems to me that there’s just no evidence either way. The same goes for Shetland, which just seems to be interpolated from Orkney and the Faroes. I guess what I want to say is that single samples are just data points in time and space, and when the points are few and far between, the drawing of maps with shades of colour is necessarily a risky business. They should be read with caution.

  517. I see there are still a few editing errors, but I’ll live with those.

    Fixed!

  518. Trond Engen says:

    Me: This could be a result of few samples,

    Yes, it could.

    but it could also be a lack of samples from Western Norway, missing older “British” ancestry in Scandinavia itself.

    But no, it couldn’t, unless Western Norway was all British, and that would be sensational. But the detected patches of partially “British” ancestry in Northern Norway could well have been Western Norwegian.

  519. Trond Engen says:

    Fixed!

    Thanks. Also a comma instead of a full stop before the final sentence. But that’s a typing error, not an editing error. I mix those keys all the time. Always comma for full stop, though, not the other way around.

  520. John Cowan says:

    But if Smålanders were still unassimilated at the outset of the Viking Age, it’s not unthinkable that they were still perceived as culturally and ethnically distinct a few centuries later, at least to a degree that made a raid defensible.

    I would say “very likely indeed”. Each of the twelve Small Lands (plus the island of Öland) had its own legal system right up to 1350 when Magnus Eriksson unified his kingdom’s laws, and indeed had a recognized right until then to stand neutral in Swedish wars if the local Thing so decided (provided the King didn’t send soldiers to overrule them). There never seem to have ever been any kings of Småland generally or of the Small Lands individually.

    In addition, we know that the area around Kalmar was settled at least 8 KYBP, because the locals crossed the ice bridge to Öland at that time and settled it. Furthermore, the name of Finnveden, the Small Land around Lake Bolmen (the Thing met on Bolmsö) and the Lagan River valley, suggests that it was occupied by “wanderers” (hunter-gatherers) late enough for that to be notable, though not necessarily related to the Finns further north. Jordanes’s history of the Goths mentions them as the Finnaithae as opposed to the Screrefennae ‘[?]skiing Finns’, though he says no more than that. He also mentions the mitissimi Fenni as a third group, but who the ‘softest Finns’ might be we have no idea. Note that these names don’t reflect the ancient a-based (lowering) umlaut in Germanic that separates medius from middle.

  521. Trond Engen says:

    Yes, the special legal organisation (or legal position) of Småland is conspicuous. The island of Öland, though, is apparently on the other end of the spectrum. The difference is conspicuous too. But of course, the Småland data are just from one place at one time. More than one sample, though, and at a very late time.

    I wrote “aboriginals” knowing that it’s an imprecise term. I should say that I didn’t mean “pure Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherers” or even “pure European Neolithic Farmers”, or even, even, “pure” at all, but something like “an ethnic group that for cultural reasons (“unassimilated”) had limited exchange of genes with the outside world and thereby maintained a genetic profile more similar to earlier inhabitants of the land”. What the paper actually says is:

    Surprisingly, three individuals from the Kärda site show much higher genetic similarity to Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age Danish individuals than to all other VA individuals in the dataset. The site is located far inland, in south-west Sweden. This similarity is quite unexpected, given that the samples are AMS-dated to the middle of the VA, and consistent with the presence of Caucasus-related ancestry inferred in the qpAdm ancestry modelling. Studies of VA burial customs suggest that the Småland area was characterized by locally confined cultural groups. The genetic data suggest that this pattern of cultural isolation was sustained in marked contrast to contemporary coastal and island communities. Consistent with this hypothesis we find that the individuals from Kärda show a marked reduction in nucleotide diversity compared to other VA groups (Fig. S9.1), although they also have high amounts of Southern European ancestry.

  522. John Cowan says:

    Makes a lot of sense.

  523. I had to look up Småland and immediately noticed that it had numerous runestones erected in memory of the men who traveled overseas, who perished in England, one for a man named as a Viking, and one for a man who went East to Greece. Which seems to indicate that the locals weren’t blissfully insulated – at least some locals…

  524. Trond, John Cowan (+ other interested hatters): On this thread (http://languagehat.com/urchin/) I gave the following reference. Its author argues that pre-Old Norse spread across Scandinavia sometime around 500 A.D.:

    Dahl, Östen. 2001. The origin of the Scandinavian languages. In The Circum-Baltic languages: typology and contact. Volume 1: Past and Present., ed. by Östen Dahl and Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm, 215-235. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

    Why do I bring this up? Because if I recall correctly (my copy of the article is buried beneath…well, other articles), Dahl (I think in a footnote) explicitly points to Småland as likely to have been one of the last if not the last place in Sweden to have adapted the new language. Which fits in very well with the discussion you two are having.

  525. David Marjanović says:

    Note that these names don’t reflect the ancient a-based (lowering) umlaut in Germanic that separates medius from middle.

    Not sure what you mean. Mid- is *j-umlaut: *medʰj- > PGmc *miðj- > PWGmc *middj-. The Finns show another umlaut phenomenon which turned *e into *i whenever it was followed by a nasal in the same syllable; it appears to have happened or spread very late, giving us Fenni in Tacitus – a form Jordanes may have been aware of – but Φιννοί in Ptolemy a few decades later. There was also an *i…a > *[e]…a phenomenon (generating [e], not [ɛ], so remaining distinct from *e) which appears to be underresearched, but I don’t think you’ve cited any words that show it.

  526. Trond Engen says:

    @Dmitry: Yes, things don’t add up in a simple way. That’s what makes it so intriguing. Småland is surrounded by rich and densely populated agricultural districts and must have been part of the inter-tribal politics of (Southern) Scandinavia since its settlement. Maybe we ought to connect the dots differently, with the Salme boat grave, and what we see is the result of an ideal of purity in the ruling families persisting through a period of immigration from the south and east?

    @Etienne: I have the earlier discussions of Scandinavian glottogenesis very much in mind (if not in perfect memory). I’m not less inclined to believe in a recent spread of Old Norse after this. I’ll have to have a good look at Dahl.

  527. Trond Engen says:

    I love the Urchin thread! The discussion on Dahl and other models of language spread in Scandinavia was a feast. It stands up well and is a good primer to new evidence.

    As for Dahl, his embrace of a Thuringian homeland is orthogonal to the matter at hand. The interesting part is the account of cultural dispersion in Scandinavia. I’ve requested the article through ResearchGate. Meantime, here’s a 2003 digest by Björn Wiener, part of a thorough review of both volumes of “Circum-Baltic Languages” (patagraph breaks added by me):

    Dahl’s paper on the origin of the Scandinavian languages, in particular of Swedish, can possibly be considered the most original contribution to the CBA-volumes. For it demonstrates how views passed down on the pre- and early history of national languages — insofar as they have normally been considered to be monolithic and only subject to the supposed internal “laws” of change — can be “shaken up” by a linguistically trained common sense. Although Dahl does not say it, he practically applies Labov’s Uniformitarian Principle. The prevalent assumption on the origin of Scandinavian languages can be called the ‘Common Nordic Hypothesis’, which states (after Noreen): “there existed up to the Viking Age a uniform Germanic language which was spoken over most of Scandinavia and which is the origin of all modern Scandinavian languages and dialects” (215).

    Dahl challenges this opinion, firstly because of the age of ‘Proto-Nordic’ and, secondly, for its alleged structural homogeneity, which most likely is a fiction. His argumentation is based on a witty and well-weighed discussion of archaeological findings, the testimony of some antique authors and linguistic reconstruction, which makes recourse to a thorough (re)analysis of two groups of written evidence found in Scandinavia: the Older Futhark inscriptions (300-600 AD) and the Late Runic inscriptions (11th c.). According to archaeological findings, until 800 AD the southern part and the eastern coast of Sweden were not settled densely, nor was there any linguistically unifying center. Therefore, in Scandinavia a rapid shift to a uniform Germanic language, which might have superseded earlier non-I.E. languages, was highly unlikely (218f.). As for the runic inscriptions, Dahl suggests that each set of them gives evidence not so much of a purported homogeneous language, but rather point at the existence of a couple of early local Germanic varieties. It cannot be ruled out that these inscriptions are more of a West Germanic than of a ‘Nordic’ character. Finally, the younger age of the inscriptions found in the Swedish Mälar province suggests that Germanic spread there later than in Denmark and Norway.

    The next step in Dahl’s argumentation concerns the “genetic” continuity between the Older Futhark and the Late Runic inscriptions. Contrary to opinio communis, there was no such continuity, since the two types of language reflected in these inscriptions must have been unintelligible to each other (219-226). If we account not only for the time span of the possible spread of some type of Germanic, but also for the space it must have covered, a crucial question inevitably arises: why should Scandinavians (whoever they were ethnically and linguistically) have changed their language all at the same time and in the same fashion (227)? Dahl’s answer to this question can be summarized in the following way: the unifying language shift was based on a prestige dialect, which probably was situated in southern Jutland (near Slesvig) and began to spread in the 9th c. from there to the Mälar provinces (eastern Sweden). The establishment of a relatively uniform Germanic language in Scandinavia was therefore due to certain economic and political elites in central parts of Scandinavia (229f.).

    His argument from the uniformitarian principle is essentially the same as our disbelief in the existence of a common, nearly uniform language across all of Scandinavia for long.

    The prestige of the 9th century Danish court as a force of linguistic change is very likely. “Danish tongue” and all that. I would have said that it’s probably too late for the colonization of the North Atlantic and for the oldest Skaldic poems, but the new genetic evidence seems to tell something different: From a differentiated genomic landscape at the outset of the Viking Age, the genetic make-up of both Norway and Sweden becomes more Danish with time. But for all I know, this may also be more recent effects of Danish officials in Norway and Swedish take-over of old Danish lands, as well as Low German craftsmen and merchants all over Scandinavia.

    I’ll note that the prestige of the “Danish” court language could have begun even earlier, with the first Danish kingdoms, preparing the ground for a more thorough intrusion into the daily life of local elites with the 8th century expansion of trade and political influence.

    I can’t see anything that supposes a base of non-Germanic (or even non-NWG) languages, and I also think that the socio-linguistic scenario works better on a substratum of related dialects (though not necessarily exclusively).

    The arguments from archaology and runeology must wait until I’ve read the paper itself.

  528. John Cowan says:

    In any case, doesn’t Elfdalian more or less kill the idea of a common pre-Old-Norse variety?

  529. David Marjanović says:

    No, it just puts it a bit farther back in the past. It is in the North Germanic branch even though it’s not descended from Old Norse even in the wider sense.

  530. Trond Engen says:

    Elfdalian

    I know. And, for probably different reasons, Gutnish (Gotlandic). My next thing to dig up is a paper we discussed a year or two ago on pre-ON linguistic development in Sweden. I remember it identifying several waves of change, the last of which supposedly starting at the Norwegian west coast, and several leaving both Elfdalian and Gutnish untouched.

  531. David, Trond: Okay, I am curious here. What linguistic features does Elfdalian (+Gotlandic) have which cannot derive from (attested) Old Norse and must derive from earlier (pre-Old Norse) North Germanic?

    Oh, and echoing my earlier posting: Does there exist ANY research on the linguistic prehistory of Småland? If some pre-North Germanic language(s) lasted unusually long there, wouldn’t there be some traces? I am thinking of things like local loanwords involving geographical features, plants and animals, or local toponymy.

  532. Trond Engen says:

    I haven’t found the article I’m thinking of. I found my mention of it here on LanguageHat last year, but that was just a slightly longer summary from memory and a regret that I hadn’t been able to dig up the article. If nothing happens I can keep going like that on a yearly interval for a long time.

  533. Trond Engen says:

    I’m not aware of any substrate features or other linguistic evidence of a late lingering residual language in Småland — or in any part of Scandinavia south of the traditional Sami homeland.

  534. John Cowan says:

    No, it just puts it a bit farther back in the past. It is in the North Germanic branch even though it’s not descended from Old Norse even in the wider sense.

    That’s true. But then there is no reason to suppose that Proto-North-Germanic was spoken in Scandinavia: it may have broken up into Old Norse and Not Old Norse before arrival, just as English was almost certainly already divided into East Anglian, Wessex, Mercian, and Kentish.

    David, Trond: Okay, I am curious here. What linguistic features does Elfdalian (+Gotlandic) have which cannot derive from (attested) Old Norse and must derive from earlier (pre-Old Norse) North Germanic?

    Well, it’s partly a matter of definitions. We know the phonemes of Old Norse all right, thanks to the First Grammarian’s notation on which our writing system is based. But we don’t always know how they were actually pronounced.

    Consider what the normalized spelling writes v: was it [v], as in all the other descendants, or [w], as in Elfdalian? We don’t really know. It could be that Elfdalian preserved [w] from a pre-Old-Norse variety, or is it preserving the sound from Old Norse itself? The same applies to the nasal vowels, which the First Grammarian notated but which appear to be allophonic and were lost by the 13C: in Elfdalian they are phonemic, but some of them are clearly unetymological, like wįð ‘we’ and kęse ‘cheese’.

  535. ktschwarz says:

    English was almost certainly already divided into East Anglian, Wessex, Mercian, and Kentish

    Speaking of English, I’ve been hoping to get a sanity check on this quote:

    Studies of various creoles in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Pacific Islands reveal that they have many features in common. Most obviously, they all use a word-order grammar similar to that of English. (This should not be surprising: English developed to permit communication among the early Britons of different tribes, and though today it is highly refined and distinguished by a large vocabulary drawn from many sources, it was formed as a creole.)

    —James L. Gould and Carol Grant Gould, The Animal Mind (1994), Scientific American Library

    Is that as big a WTF as I think it is? Their cite is Derek Bickerton in 1983. I have no idea about the word-order claim (I reread the long thread on McWhorter and creole exceptionalism, but it was all about loss of bound morphemes and not about word order). But the “Britons [sic] of different tribes” business??? Did Bickerton actually say that?

  536. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    English was almost certainly already divided into East Anglian, Wessex, Mercian, and Kentish

    David DeCamp suggested in a 1957 paper (The Genesis of the Old English Dialects: A New Hypothesis):

    “…that the origins of the English dialects lie not in pre-migration tribal affiliations but in certain social, economic, and cultural developments which occurred after the migration was completed. This does not imply that the continental Germanic dialects are irrelevant to the genesis of English dialects; indeed the influence of Frisian is central to my hypothesis. Only those influences, however, which were felt after the migrations were relevant to formation of the English dialects; for I believe that these dialects originated not on the continent but on the island of Britain.”

  537. David Marjanović says:

    was it [v], as in all the other descendants

    In most of them, and also in most of West Germanic, it’s [ʋ]: labiodental, but still an approximant.

    the nasal vowels, which the First Grammarian notated but which appear to be allophonic

    Most of them had formed only recently from vowel + /n/ sequences that are preserved in West Germanic. But some are older. Consider the vowel in brought, thought and other such irregular weak-verb forms. From West Germanic alone, you’d effortlessly reconstruct , and it’s also a (length not indicated) in Gothic. But from internal reconstruction, you’d expect the past forms of *-ing- verbs to contain *-ang-t-; *gt would automatically become *xt, so you’d expect *-anxt- (presumably with [ŋ] in the middle). The mismatch to *-āxt- is easily explained by vowel + nasal smoothing out into a long nasal vowel when followed by *x – this is not limited to verb forms; “hunger” was huhrus in Gothic –, and the textbook assumption has been that this happened shortly before Proto-Germanic. But the First Grammarian marked these vowels as nasal… and they’re still nasal in Elfdalian.

    Is that as big a WTF as I think it is?

    Yes, though it may not have been in 1983.

    Pidgins not descended from SAE languages don’t necessarily have SAE features. Mobilian Jargon, used for centuries as the trade language between speakers of different Muskogean languages, had O(S)V word order.

  538. PlasticPaddy says:

    Re English dialects
    Kortlandt (1986)
    “It has been argued that the Old English dialects either reflect old
    tribal divisions or developed after the Anglo-Saxon emigration. I
    think that neither view is correct. In the following I intend to show
    that the early divergences between West Saxon and Kentish on the
    one band and Anglian (Mercian and Northumbrian) on the other
    are the result of a chronological difference between two waves of
    migration from the same dialectal area in northern Germany”
    He does not refer to DeCamp specifically. You can get the paper at https://www.google.com/url?q=https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/1889/344_058.pdf%3Fsequence%3D1&sa=U&ved=2ahUKEwia1duGpaLsAhXpaRUIHdGnB6wQFjANegQIAxAB&usg=AOvVaw3e3LzEmqrB0-RhROPHEpzg

  539. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    Cool!

  540. Lars Mathiesen says:

    @JC, Danish diachronic descriptions agree on /w/ as the oldest stage, though the ones I have don’t present evidence, and there is a relict area in the north of Jutland where initial /w/ survives in contrast to the rest of Denmark. Also if it had been a /v/, would the monks have bothered spelling it uu?

    The runic language also had one sign that’s transliterated as w, but it didn’t have one for /f/~/v/ (which developed from the bilabial approximant later) so that could just be convention.

  541. David Marjanović says:

    In the following I intend to show that the early divergences between West Saxon and Kentish on the one band and Anglian (Mercian and Northumbrian) on the other are the result of a chronological difference between two waves of migration from the same dialectal area in northern Germany

    This paper which we’ve talked about a few times before, Schrijver (2002), offers another explanation which is not mutually exclusive with this. From the 22nd page:

    Gallo-Romance palatalized velars before front vowels, including æ (see Meyer-Lübke 1908: 131 on Picardian); so did Old English, Old Frisian and, on the evidence of the western Dutch diminutive suffix -tje < *-kīn, Coastal Dutch [ = Dutch with a Frisian substratum]. While this palatalization cannot be explained on the basis of a Brittonic substratum, it accords well with a Romance substratum. The fact that Anglian had far less palatalization of velars than Saxon accords well with the hypothesis that Anglian was primarily in contact with Brittonic while Saxon was primarily in contact with Romance.

    […]

    The assumption that British Latin is responsible for Brittonic features in Old English is useful because it explains why so little Brittonic influence is found in Old English: British Latin filtered out a good deal of Brittonic lexicon and morphosyntax that did manage to reach more northern English dialects, which probably were in direct contact with Brittonic.

    and from the summary on the next page:

    Germanic settlers that began occupying the North Sea basin from the fourth century onwards from northern Germany and Denmark primarily came into contact with speakers of North Sea Celtic in the British Highland Zone, where the Anglian dialects arose, and with speakers of Northwestern Romance in the British Lowland Zone and in the Low Countries, where Saxon, Kentish, Coastal Dutch and Frisian came into being.

    Here, Schrijver (2009) introduces a complication: there’s evidence from the madness of the Old English vowel systems that the pre-Roman Celtic language of the British lowlands was not Pre-Brittonic, but Pre-Goidelic.

  542. On labials in Norse, the situation is pretty clear, I think. The First Grammarian treats glide + vowel sequences together with diphthongs, including in the same list austr ‘east’ and uín ‘wine’, and explicitly describes both as a vowel (raddarstafr) which ‘hafnar sínu eðli, ok hann má heldr þá samhljóðandi heita en raddarstaft’ (forsakes its nature, and may be rather called a consonat than a vowel). No hint of a variation in articulation is found, and the simplest reading by far is that the FG is describing [w], a consonantal version of [u].

    (I’d also note that the FG’s nasal vowels _are_ phonemic and contrastive, when long — he provides a nice list of more or less minimal pairs, only one of which involves a synchronic adjacent nasal. It’s only the _short_ vowels for which nasalization is, in the FG’s dialect, wholly allophonic. The situation is broadly comparable to Elfdalian — allophonic nasalization of all vowels next to nasal consonants; contrastive nasalization of long vowels — only Elfdalian has added short nasalized unstressed vowels, mainly through reduction of the suffixed definite article. Phonemic nasalization is also, of course, often marked in Younger Futhark inscriptions.)

    “The runic language also had one sign that’s transliterated as w, but it didn’t have one for /f/~/v/ (which developed from the bilabial approximant later) so that could just be convention.”

    There are signs for both _w_ and for _f_ — the latter is the first letter of the alphabet, found in the name ‘futhark’. For Viking Age inscriptions, we don’t really know if the -sign was used for [v] as well as [f], since voicing distinctions aren’t indicated. All we know is that medial _w_ and medial _f_ did contrast, whatever their articulations (which may have of course varied by time and place), and continued to do so in the early manuscript sources (medial *w is spelled _u_, medial *f as _f_). The two sounds do eventually merge in Icelandic, so, for instance, instead of tiuar ‘gods’ we get tifar, or going the other direction, For Olafi we get Olaui. The FG doesn’t give any hint of voicing in /f/ in his dialect, for what it’s worth.

  543. PlasticPaddy says:

    @ng
    Re Olaui in Irish the name is Amhlaoibh. I had assumed this was an adaptation (Irish does not like final f without following vowel, e.g. líofa).

  544. The Old Irish form is Amlaib. This nicely reflects the Viking Age form of the name, *Ǭⁿlaivʀ or the like, with a nasalized vowel, or maybe even *Ǫnlaivʀ, from a variety that had not yet lost the nasal segment. Old English Anlāf is similar.

    (This sound was, it might be worth saying, voiced from the get-go, Proto-Germanic *β.)

  545. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Yeah, how did I miss Runic /f/ from PIE *p — it’s hard to look all the way to the end of the line. In my defense I was only thinking of the later ones that developed from *β (PIE *bh).

  546. pre-Roman Celtic language of the British lowlands was not Pre-Brittonic, but Pre-Goidelic.

    I thought he earlier wrote that it was Continental Celtic (very close to Gaulish).

    Did he change his mind?

  547. PlasticPaddy says:

    @dm, sfr
    I was also surprised to see Goidelic found in “mainland” Britain before about AD 370. My understanding was rather that P-Celtic tribes in Ireland (like Ptolemy’s Manapii) were subject to Gaelicisation during say 300 BC to 1000 AD and that tribes found in both islands (like the Gangani) were Gaelicised only in Ireland.

  548. David Eddyshaw says:

    Schrijver (2009) introduces a complication

    Paywalled.

    Presumably he has in mind the way Old English fricativised all postvocalic stops and developed contrastive consonant palatisation, which was hitherto a great mystery.
    Does Schrijver posit actual speakers of Goidelic there in what is now Southern England, adopting the English of the Germanic invaders, or speakers of a form of Goidelic-influenced Latin? There seems to be no actual historical evidence for either …

    The inhabitants of Ireland, of course, must have spoken Brythonic, until the Dalreadic Scots invaded them from Britain and imposed Goidelic. It’s all so simple

    I was under the impression that at the time the Roman came to Rye, or out to Severn strode, there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between Brythonic and Goidelic anyway, apart from word-stress (maybe) and the phonologically trivial p/q thing.

  549. David Marjanović says:

    Schrijver (2009) thinks that Pre-Goidelic arrived in Ireland very late, not long before Ptolemy listed Celtic tribe names there. Footnotes in bold instead of superscript:

    I have argued elsewhere that the Old Irish language is the result of a relatively recent language spread in Ireland, probably involving a language shift from a non-Celtic language to Celtic, and that the most probable window for the coming of Celtic to Ireland is as recent as the first century AD.20 Apart from a few trivial historical and geographical assumptions, the argument is completely of a linguistic nature and runs as follows.

    (1) The earliest datable evidence for the presence of a Celtic language in Ireland is found in names attested in Ptolemy’s Geographia (AD 150), e.g. the tribal names Brigantes (‘High’ or ‘Noble Ones’), Ouenniknioi (‘Family Descendants’?), Robogdioi (‘Very Poor Ones’). For reasons of historical phonology, the name for Ireland and its inhabitants itself, which is attested much earlier, is not linguistically Celtic (e.g. OIr. Ériu; Latin genitive plural (gens) Hiernorum (Avienus), I(u)verna (Pomponius Mela, Juvenal), Hibernia (Caesar); Greek Iouernias nēsos (Ptolemy), Iernē (Strabo)). But even if the name were Celtic, it may have been an exonym, which the Celtic inhabitants of Britain and Gaul used, rather than an endonym, which Celtic-speaking inhabitants of Ireland themselves used. Hence the terminus ante quem for the arrival of Celtic in Ireland is as late as the early second century AD. Needless to say, the arrival may be much earlier, but the point is that it does not need to be.

    20 ‘How Roman Britain made Ireland Celtic’, O’Donnell Lecture delivered 11 May 2007, Oxford; not yet published.

    But doesn’t Ériu come from *īweriū, which has an unspectacular IE etymology? No – íriu “land” does; it is casually mentioned later in the paper.

    (2) The linguistic ancestors of Irish and Highland British Celtic are phonologically and grammatically identical up until the first datable isogloss separating British from Irish Celtic (*ai > British *ɛ̄, first century AD; Jackson 1953: 694). The only possible exception is the development of *kʷ to *p in British Celtic and its preservation in prehistoric Irish, but that isogloss is now generally believed to be trivial, and British Celtic, just like Gaulish (p-Celtic generally but not universally, cf. Sequana, eqos, Ucuetin), may well have had pockets of speakers who preserved *kʷ. The linguistic identity of Irish and British Celtic up to so recent a period is irreconcilablewith the idea that the ancestor of Irish and the ancestor of British Celtic had been geographically separated by the Irish Sea for any length of time, for had that been the case, at least some linguistic differences, however trivial, should have arisen.

    (3) The arguable presence of a non-Celtic language in Ireland from which Irish borrowed words at least as late as the sixth century AD21 and the fact that the Irish Ogam inscriptions show radical phonological changes being phonemicized in the period between 400 and 600 combine to support the idea of a language shift to Celtic around that period, which resulted in Old Irish.

    (4) Old Irish is a monolithic language, and Early Old Irish of the seventh century is identical to Proto-Irish: spoken Modern Irish, Scots Gaelic, and Manx descend from that language, and no isogloss can be shown to predate it. In this respect, Irish contrasts sharply with all other languages which entered the written record during the Middle Ages: Old English, Old High German, Old Norse, and Slavic, for instance, show dialectal differences as soon as they enter the written record. The exceptional nature of Old Irish is explainable if the language resulted from a recent spread in Ireland (see 2 and 3). Alternatives are conceivable. One might consider a top-down scenario according to which a standardization of the literary language successfully wiped out all pre-existing dialectal differences. However, the prime example of a successful top-down spread of uniformity, Classical Latin, in no way wiped out all traces of the earlier dialectal diversity of Latin in Latium, so I seriously doubt whether the top-down scenario is at all plausible. Alternatively, a population bottleneck may have left only a small, linguistically uniform community of Celtic speakers in Ireland as the sole survivors of a previously diverse linguistic landscape. Although this scenario is conceivable, it is obviously less capable of explaining the closeness of Irish and British than is a recent Celticization of Ireland.

    21 Schrijver (2000; 2005a), pace Isaac (2003).

    And although it isn’t pointed out as such, there is evidence elsewhere in the paper that this uniformity is a product of dialect mixture: “ ( < Proto-Celtic *eu, *ou, *au) became úa [ua] or ó in an arbitrary manner, it seems (Thurneysen 1946: 39–41; McCone 1996: 134).” That could be expected from the bottleneck of an immigration event.

    A historical scenario that would account for the recent linguistic Celticization of Ireland would be that Celtic was introduced into Ireland in the wake of the Roman occupation of Britain, perhaps in connection with the destruction of Brigantian independence in AD 74, which arguably led to a movement of at least some British to Ireland (cf. the Lambay Island finds, Raftery 1994: 200–3).

    The relevance of this excursion into the history of Irish is obvious: if Irish descends from a Celtic dialect spoken in Britain in the first century AD, it is reasonable to assume that a reconstruction of the phonetics and phonology of Old Irish holds the key to unraveling the phonetics and phonology of the dialect of British Celtic that is responsible for the phonetic and phonological features of Old English that are the subject of this article. Old Irish is probably an even better source for the reconstruction of British Lowland Celtic phonetics than is Highland British Celtic because the latter underwent extensive influence from spoken Latin in the early medieval period (section 2).

    There is a test we can perform in order to assess the relation of Old Irish to Lowland British Celtic. What little we know of Lowland British Celtic points to the conclusion that it shared two diphthongizations of long vowels with Northern Gaulish (section 2):
    […]
    By this single token, it appears that the phonetics of the language of the Bath inscription, together with the northern Gaulish inscriptions of Baudecet and Châteaubleau, is closer to the phonetics of Old Irish than it is to the phonetics of Highland British Celtic, which shows no signs of diphthongization. In other respects, however, […] Bath and Châteaubleau24 agree with Highland British Celtic against Old Irish. If all this is put into a chronologically consistent framework, […] would have arisen in pre-Roman Lowland Britain and northern Gaul and was shared by Irish when its ancestor was still in Britain, whereas […] and […] belong to a later period when innovations spreading from Gaul were shared by Celtic dialects within the Roman Empire.25

    24 Baudecet offers no relevant evidence.
    25 On other such developments, which did not reach Irish, see Schrijver (1995: 463–5; 2002: 90–1).

    I thought he earlier wrote that it was Continental Celtic (very close to Gaulish).

    Did he change his mind?

    Between 1999 and 2002 he changed his mind, in any case, on various common North Sea Germanic oddities being due not directly to a Celtic, but to a Romance substrate which had itself had a Celtic substrate earlier. He still, as of 2002 and 2009, thinks Brittonic and Gaulish have a lot of common innovations; that makes up a large part of the 2002 paper.

    Paywalled.

    The site you’re thinking of has moved from .tw to .do.

    Presumably he has in mind the way Old English fricativised all postvocalic stops and developed contrastive consonant palatisation, which was hitherto a great mystery.

    No, the palatalisation is attributed to Northwest Romance, to which British (and Frisian) Latin would have belonged. The voiceless stops were not fricativised; the voiced ones were fricatives to begin with – fricative reflexes of the voiced aspirates are actually an interesting shared feature of Proto-Germanic, Proto-Italic and Proto-Celtic, restopped across the board only in Latin and Rather High German.

    One thing he has in mind is the enormous proliferation of diphthongs, including a globally quite unusual series of short diphthongs that contrast with the “normal” long ones. On top of that, the Old English dialects all have the same diphthong inventory (except that some have ie, both long and short, while the others don’t), but not the same diphthongs in the same lexical sets! More quotes from the 2009 paper:

    The inevitable consequence of these observations is that the similarity of the vowel systems and of the processes leading up to them cannot be explained just on the basis of contact between the speakers of the Old English dialects, as the processes produced such different results that they impaired rather than improved mutual comprehension. It is as if the dialects adopted the same phonemic and phonetic system without contact with one another. That, I submit, is one of the best possible indicators of a common substratum, more explicitly, of a language shift by a non-Anglo-Saxon population to Anglo-Saxon in the period between c. 450 to 700.

    Old Irish appears to have been full of diphthongs, and “has a marginal but real contrast, e.g. dative singulars fiur ‘man’ versus níul ‘cloud’ of the nominatives fer and nél, respectively” (footnote 15).

    The Irish counterpart of Anglo-Saxon backing in back contexts and fronting in front contexts is called palatalization: simplifying somewhat, consonants between front vowels and consonants before (long or short) *i become palatalized; additionally, any *i or *e lost by apocope and syncope causes palatalization of the preceding consonant. It is the palatalization of consonants that by the Old Irish period (AD 600–900) had become phonemic, but phonetically the vowels flanking palatalized consonants are affected, too. Here are some examples, in which approximate phonetic representations accompany the Old Irish phonological forms:
    A […]
    The Old Irish counterpart of Old English a-umlaut and breaking is (phonetic) velarization: any consonant that is not palatalized (because the consonant or consonant group resisted palatalization by *i or because it was followed by the back vowels *a or *o) affects a preceding front vowel by producing a velar off-glide:
    B […]
    In the case of one reconstructed vowel, ( < Proto-Celtic *ei), diphthongization before a nonpalatal consonant was phonemic in Old Irish:
    C […] [ía without, éi with palatalization]
    The Old Irish counterpart of Old English u-umlaut is (phonemic) u-infection:
    D […]
    It is true that the subphonemic presence of rounded front vowels and front-to-back diphthongs in A and B above is not directly attested in Old Irish and can only be extrapolated from Modern Irish. However, since all Modern Irish and Scots Gaelic dialects agree on this point and since it is virtually impossible to pronounce these forms without recourse to such phonetics [an exaggeration, but not by much], their subphonemic presence in Old Irish is guaranteed.

    […] Where Old Irish and Old English differ is on the phonemic level: with the exception of u-infection and the diphthong ía, Old Irish phonemicizes consonantal features (palatal and nonpalatal consonants), whereas Old English phonemicizes vowel features (rounded front vowels and front-to-back long and short diphthongs).

    I’m reminded of the Mongolic situation. Words like Classical Mongolian mori “horse” have undergone some kind of smoothing in most or all modern varieties, but in different ways: [mɔrʲ], [mœrʲ] and [mœr] are all attested. I would not be surprised if such variation showed up in Pre-Goidelic.

    Within this general pattern, there is an even more specific correspondence. In Old
    English, vowel + *u + *i in subsequent syllables became vowel + *i + *i, and the vowel underwent i-umlaut. This is the so-called ‘double umlaut’ (Campbell 1968: 82–3). In prehistoric Irish, vowel + *u + *i became vowel + *i + *i, and if the *i in the second syllable was syncopated, it palatalized the preceding consonant (Greene 1973: 134). It is the only original back vowel to do so. Examples:

    OE: *lat-umista- > *latimista- > lætemest ‘last’
    OIr.: *Lugudikos > *Luγiðeχ > Luigdech […], genitive singular of the personal name Luguid

    […]

    In conclusion, prehistoric Old Irish and prehistoric Old English, although separated by thousands of years of language evolution along separate branches of the Indo-European family tree, appear to share a common phonetic basis. The correspondences in the vowel system in particular are nontrivial and highly specific. They strongly indicate a causal link, which requires specification. That is the subject of the next section.

    Having presented some of that above (the paper has 20 pages), I’ll jump to the “Synthesis” at the end:

    As was discussed earlier, the phonology of the language of the Germanic speaking settlers who spread across southern and eastern Britain was changed drastically between c. 400 and 700. In all dialects of Old English, from northern Northumbrian to Kentish and West Saxon, almost the same phonemic−phonetic system arose, but in such different ways that mutual understanding was impaired. The simplest explanation of this state of affairs is that phonetic−phonological developments were fuelled by a language shift of a pre-settlement population which stretched all the way from the Tweed to Wiltshire and which in its original language had that same phonemic−phonetic system. The shifting population introduced its traditional phonetics and phonology into the language of the Anglo-Saxon settlers, where those features survived and were perpetuated. The sociolinguistic scenario that gave rise to the spread of this particular ‘accent’ but at the same time blocked the spread of lexicon and, at least initially, syntax into Anglo-Saxon remains to be determined.

    The original language of the shifting population can now be identified as a variety of Celtic which was ancestral to Old Irish. Old Irish is the product of a linguistic colonization of Ireland which had its roots in a variety of British Celtic spoken in Britain sometime in the late first or early second century AD. Descendants of the speakers of this variety of Celtic who stayed behind in Britain eventually became Roman citizens. Some of them, especially those living in the eastern and southern Lowland Zone and being part of a highly Romanized society, stood a good chance of becoming bilingual Celtic-Latin speakers. Some ultimately shifted to Latin altogether. Given the evidence for phonetics surviving multiple language shifts,26 these new Latin speakers to a lesser or greater degree held on to their particular Celtic phonetics. The phonological history of Old English indicates that these, either Celtic speakers or Latin speakers with a strong Celtic accent, were the people whom the first Anglo-Saxon settlers met and who left a characteristic trace in Old English phonology and phonetics.

    9 Addendum: British Latin

    I have argued (Schrijver 2002) that Highland British Celtic was phonologically influenced by British Latin in the period between approximately 400 and 700. In the same period, the Germanic dialects of the Anglo-Saxons were phonologically influenced by British Latin based on ‘Irish’ Celtic phonetics or by ‘Irish’ Celtic itself. The question arises why the influence of Latin worked out so very differently in both cases: phonologically and phonetically, Old Welsh, Cornish, and Breton are very different from Old English. Various possibilities can be raised, some of which I shall formulate rather than explore here.

    […]

    On the other hand, the linguistic situation is bound to have been more complicated: on a large island such as Britain, British Latin may have evolved in different regional varieties and social registers, partly corresponding to and partly irrespective of the different regional varieties and social registers of Celtic. Ultimately, there is enough leeway to allow one variety of British Latin to influence British Highland Celtic and quite another to influence Old English. Out of a multitude of possibilities, one might arbitrarily select one according to which it was city folk and the rural elite that fled to the Highland Zone, because they had the means to do so or because the collapse of towns left them no alternative. Their comparatively upper-class Latin would then have influenced Highland British Celtic, which became Welsh, Cornish, and Breton. The rural poor, small farmers and agricultural laborers, may have stayed on, hoping to strike a deal with the new powers, and in so far as they succeeded, they would have imported into Old English a comparatively lower-class Latin accent, phonetically similar to the original Celtic. […]

    10 Addendum: from which part of Britain did the ancestor of Irish come?

    While the area in which the ‘Irish’ phonetic and phonological system influenced Anglo-Saxon must have been extensive, stretching along the eastern and southern coast from Hadrian’s Wall to the Isle of Wight, there is one particular section in the northeast where the match between Old Irish and Old English phonetics is so close that it stands a better chance than any other of being the area of origin of Irish. The Northumbrian dialect of the glosses in the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Durham Ritual […] one cannot fail to notice that the Northumbrian localization fits in rather well with the idea advanced above that Celtic may have been introduced into Ireland by first-century refugees from the Brigantian tribal area.

    26 Preaspiration of plosives survived language shifts from West Norse to Scots Gaelic on the Hebrides and from Scots Gaelic to Highland varieties of English (cf. Borgstrøm 1974; Bird 1997).

    (Not to be confused with a long list of other Brigantian tribal areas, e.g. Bregenz at the Austrian end of Lake Constance.)

  550. David:

    1-Do you know, I believe this is your longest comment here at the Hattery.

    2-Schrijver is a fine scholar, but in several ways his arguments do not make sense to me.

    -When he writes-

    “the terminus ante quem for the arrival of Celtic in Ireland is as late as the early second century AD. Needless to say, the arrival may be much earlier, but the point is that it does not need to be”

    -he seems to be ignoring his own later argument (which to my mind is his strongest) on the uniformity of (later) Old Irish. Because (Classical) Old Irish dates back to the ninth century AD or so, and since over those seven or so centuries the language underwent a bewildering number of sound changes, it is strange indeed that attested Old Irish exhibits practically no dialect differentiation. Seven centuries would be more than enough time for clear dialects to emerge in the case of a language expanding over the whole of Ireland/Northern Scotland/the Isle of Man, whose surface area and population density was comparable to Scandinavia at the time (Schrijver and Dahl definitely need to be introduced to one another!); this would be true even in the case of a language whose phonological evolution was nowhere near as rapid as that of Old Irish, and things get even worse if you assume a possible earlier arrival of (pre)-Old Irish in Ireland.

    3-Also,, when he writes-

    “the fact that the Irish Ogam inscriptions show radical phonological changes being phonemicized in the period between 400 and 600 combine to support the idea of a language shift to Celtic around that period, which resulted in Old Irish.”

    -I simply cannot agree. Radical language change needn’t indicate language shift: Brythonic underwent comparably radical sound changes too, after all.

  551. David Marjanović says:

    Because (Classical) Old Irish dates back to the ninth century AD or so, and since over those seven or so centuries the language underwent a bewildering number of sound changes, it is strange indeed that attested Old Irish exhibits practically no dialect differentiation.

    The quote is: “Old Irish is a monolithic language, and Early Old Irish of the seventh century is identical to Proto-Irish: spoken Modern Irish, Scots Gaelic, and Manx descend from that language, and no isogloss can be shown to predate it.” That implies a lack of diversity in the seventh century, not necessarily in the ninth – though I don’t expect a lot to develop in just 200 years.

    Radical language change needn’t indicate language shift:

    I agree this is the weakest of the four arguments. But it fits the rest of the picture, so I see nothing wrong with mentioning it.

    Brythonic underwent comparably radical sound changes too, after all.

    But that he blames on (early northwestern) Romance in great detail in the 1999 paper.

  552. Seven centuries would be more than enough time for clear dialects to emerge in the case of a language expanding over the whole of Ireland/Northern Scotland/the Isle of Man

    The question is when the language of invaders from Britain expanded over the whole of Ireland.

    Because Ptolemy in 2nd century AD locates the Briganti in a very small area of east coast of Ireland.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Ptolemy%27s_Ireland.png

  553. David Eddyshaw says:

    No, the palatalisation is attributed to Northwest Romance, to which British (and Frisian) Latin would have belonged. The voiceless stops were not fricativised;

    One of these days I will finally learn never to attempt sarcasm on the Intertubes …

    Otherwise, many thanks, DM. Very interesting stuff.

    The short/long diphthong contrast seems to be doing a great deal of work in S’s argument. Kusaal (wouldn’t you have guessed it?) has short/long contrasts in diphthongs (also extra-long three-mora diphthongs, though never with three-way contrasts in identical environments.) However, these diphthongs appear only in the Agolle dialect, not Toende. The Scandi-Congo language of Bawku evidently shows substrate effects from the Goidelic of the original population.

    S’s argument seems really to be more about a supposed late arrival of Celtic in Ireland than about Britain. Calling the language of the introducers by the name “Goidelic” at all seems rather to confuse the issue, as the supposed differences from Brythonic at that point would surely have been minor (Toende vs Agolle Kusaal, in fact.)

    The fiur versus níul contrast depends on intra-Goidelic developments too late to bear on the issue, I’d have thought. IIRC, the very oldest documents of Old Irish also lack the diphthongisation of long e, o: there seem to be substantial anachronisms involved in attributing wholesale diphthongophilia to a British ancestor of Goidelic on British soil.

    This whole line of argument reminds me rather of John McWhorter’s English-as-creole stuff, what with its conjuring up of mysterious substrate populations who have left no historical traces in order to “explain” phenomena which are hardly great rarities cross-linguistically in reality.

  554. PlasticPaddy says:
  555. David Marjanović says:

    The question is when the language of invaders from Britain expanded over the whole of Ireland.

    Because Ptolemy in 2nd century AD locates the Briganti in a very small area of east coast of Ireland.

    But interestingly far south. The two northernmost tribes, as well as one more on the east coast, also have Celtic names according to Schrijver. That may well be due to Viking-style settlement of all coasts at once, but even so the four of five centuries before the first Old Irish text should be enough for some differentiation. …Or maybe the others spoke Pre-Brythonic instead of Pre-Goidelic. Who knows.

    One of these days I will finally learn never to attempt sarcasm on the Intertubes …

    It actually occurred to me that it was probably sarcasm while I was going to bed, but by then I didn’t remember the wording well enough to tell 🙂

    The short/long diphthong contrast seems to be doing a great deal of work in S’s argument.

    Not only the contrast, but also the sheer number of diphthongs and how came to be (by assimilation phenomena from vowels and from consonants) – three arguments. The length contrast actually seems rather incidental to the whole thing.

    A length contrast for diphthongs is rare enough that some have thought it was impossible – and even flat-out refused to believe Old English could have had one. Schrijver is aware that it’s not just Old English and Old Irish; in a long footnote he mentions the case of Inari Saami, where this contrast can only be explained away by assuming a “quadruple (!)” length contrast for consonants. It does seem clear that a length contrast for diphthongs requires special circumstances, though. Austrian Standard German has one – due to the loss of vowel length in the Central Bavarian dialects (where mono- and diphthongs have the same length in the same environments), followed by non-rhoticity turning Standard long vowels + r into long diphthongs, enabled by the Upper German lack of concern about overlong syllables (so the long diphthongs occur even when the /r/ is the onset of the next syllable and therefore does not disappear in the process, unlike in more northern Standard accents).

    Calling the language of the introducers by the name “Goidelic” at all seems rather to confuse the issue, as the supposed differences from Brythonic at that point would surely have been minor (Toende vs Agolle Kusaal, in fact.)

    As a member of the Committee on Phylogenetic Nomenclature (and a former member of the Publicity Committee, which just faded out of existence at some point), I find that it rather clarifies the issue: call them Brythonic vs. Goidelic once they’re distinguishable, not after they’ve reached some arbitrary amount of difference that people will never agree on. Why should language families be required to contain only “whole languages”, whatever that means, instead of individual dialects or subdialects?

    (linguistics : biology :: language : species)

    the very oldest documents of Old Irish also lack the diphthongisation of long e, o:

    That’s implied by a passage in the paper that says it is “phonemic from the eighth century”, IIRC. But a large part of the argument is that looking at phonemic contrasts is not enough – phonetic details need to be compared as well.

    reminds me rather of John McWhorter’s English-as-creole stuff

    Why? McWhorter took a well-understood historical situation (mass settlement of Norsemen in northern England, followed by assimilation and a lot of loanwords), figured that this should have simplified English grammar from north to south (not all the way to a creole, but in that direction), and found that in the data. Schrijver’s chains of inference are longer, and he’s well aware of that.

  556. David Marjanović says:

    Stephen Laker

    Nice find! I’ll try to read the 30 pages later today.

    The argument about the unusual distribution of eo & ea in Northumbrian mentioned in the abstract is a minor argument in Schrijver (2009) about where exactly the Goidels set sail to Ireland. It does not impact any of the other arguments in the paper.

  557. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    Austrian Standard German has one – due to the loss of vowel length in the Central Bavarian dialects (where mono- and diphthongs have the same length in the same environments), followed by non-rhoticity turning Standard long vowels + r into long diphthongs, enabled by the Upper German lack of concern about overlong syllables (so the long diphthongs occur even when the /r/ is the onset of the next syllable and therefore does not disappear in the process, unlike in more northern Standard accents).

    Ooooh, could you name some minimal pairs?

  558. David Eddyshaw says:

    A length contrast for diphthongs is rare enough that some have thought it was impossible

    With sufficient ingenuity, such contrasts can always be explained away, I imagine.
    I actually did this myself for Agolle Kusaal in my days of ignorance: all you need to do is posit a contrast between word-final labialised and unlabialised velars (for which there is no other evidence) along with word-final /j/ /w/ realised as phonetic zero in most contexts. And two phonemic pure vowels (each occurring short and long) which are actually always realised as diphthongs (a mere detail.) It’s all very satisfying and pretty: but eventually I saw the light, and realised that I was really describing the diachronic origin of the system, not the actual reality.

    With even greater ingenuity, you can explain away all diphthongs … just as all tone systems can be reduced to two tones …

  559. John Cowan says:

    Note that these names don’t reflect the ancient a-based (lowering) umlaut

    Of course this remark of mine was completely bogus: it appears that to my long-standing inability to tell left from right, I am beginning to add a failure to distinguish between up and down.

    turned *e into *i whenever it was followed by a nasal in the same syllable

    In short, a pin/pen merger. There seems to be something quite natural about this in Germanic….

    Pidgins not descended from SAE languages don’t necessarily have SAE features.

    Chinuk Wawa is as isolating as English, despite the fact that its non-European speakers were slinging the morphology about with ease.

    Also if it had been a /v/, would the monks have bothered spelling it uu?

    Well, maybe, to distinguish the vowel from the consonant, whatever the quality of the latter might have been.

    I was really describing the diachronic origin of the system, not the actual reality.

    Don’t feel too bad. Grimm’s still-standard romanization of Gothic writes aí, aú for the short mid-open vowels, ái, áu for the diphthongs, and ai, au for the long mid-open vowels, which only appear before another vowel. (The letters e, o represent long mid vowels, presumably mid-close.)

    Although Wulfila is known to have ignored vowel length in the cases of a, u (he wrote long i as ei in Greek fashion), I refuse to swallow that he used the same digraphs 𐌰𐌹, 𐌰𐌿 for not only long and short monophthongs but for diphthongs too. There surely were only one set of pronunciations in his time, presumably the short monophthongs, and so what Grimm was doing was trying to write Gothic and Pre-Gothic at the same time, something that is at most pedagogically defensible.

    However, the prime example of a successful top-down spread of uniformity, Classical Latin, in no way wiped out all traces of the earlier dialectal diversity of Latin in Latium.

    Another thing that’s hard to swallow. Yes, CL shows local variation, and so does Standard written English, but not much variation (regard being hand to the far greater spread of the latter). It’s pretty damn standardized, as was Old Irish in the 7C and West Saxon Old English right up to and through the late regrettable Norman War. Losing track of that distinction can lead to all sorts of dubious historical conclusions.

    ObTangent: In 13C Herefordshire, though: a standard descendant of Mercian Old English still persisted. Here’s Shippey:

    In between [OE and EModE], there was no standard English, only dialects; and English furthermore, for most of the period and over most of the country, was downgraded to subordinate status, so that no matter what people actually spoke, all over England they stopped writing English and turned instead to French and Latin. But not quite all over England. Tolkien’s first major philological discovery was his demonstration in 1929 that two manuscripts of Middle English in different handwritingswere nevertheless written in identical English, down to spelling, and even more remarkable, down to tiny points of grammar — tiny points not identical with Old English (and so not just copied) but rigorously developed from it. What did this mean historically? Well, people do not spell the same way by accident. They have to be taught. So even in the early Middle Ages someone was teaching English people how to write English, in a real school.

    The work in question was the Ancrene Wisse, and that first word is the direct descendant of OE ancor-F.PL.GEN. Who knows what those two scribes said when they meant “anchoresses'”? But they wrote what Brother Lorethew taught them to write.

    Pro tip: When David E writes “simple” or “meant” at the end of an utterance in the italics of emphasis, the preceding part of his text is, as Artemus Ward had it, “wrote Sarkasticul”.

  560. David Marjanović says:

    Ooooh, could you name some minimal pairs?

    How about ihre “her/their” vs. irre “crazy” (admittedly a rather literary form)? [iˑɐ̯ʀɛ], [ɪɐ̯ʀɛ], with not a lot of quality distance between [i] and what I’ve transcribed as [ɪ].

    In short, a pin/pen merger.

    Exactly.

    Chinuk Wawa is as isolating as English, despite the fact that its non-European speakers were slinging the morphology about with ease.

    Ah, but the lowest common denominator of Chinookan morphology and Salishan morphology is pretty close to zero.

    There surely were only one set of pronunciations in his time, presumably the short monophthongs

    Consensus today is that these spellings stand for the short and the long monophthongs alike. That would leave iu as the only diphthong in the language, and some have speculated it may have become a monophtong as well ([ɨː] or something).

    and West Saxon Old English right up to and through the late regrettable Norman War.

    Was West Saxon written outside of Wessex, though? I thought the reason Late West Saxon is what we think of first when we think of OE is simply that’s that what the great majority of the texts is in because most of the text production happened at Alfred the Great’s court?

  561. “Was West Saxon written outside of Wessex, though? I thought the reason Late West Saxon is what we think of first when we think of OE is simply that’s that what the great majority of the texts is in because most of the text production happened at Alfred the Great’s court?”

    The short answer is that Alfredian texts constitute only a tiny portion of surviving OE manuscripts. We also have a few glimpses of an earlier Mercian standard, as well as some other bits and bobs — but the main bulk of the corpus is in Late West Saxon. This seems to have been written quite widely, and was associated with the Benedictine Reform (very important, at a time when most textual production was associated with monasteries).

    There’s considerably more to the picture than that, but I don’t have time to write more just now!

  562. David Marjanović says:

    Oh! Thanks.

    I have now read Laker’s paper (from 2018) and agree with some of the arguments, but others I’m not sure I understand, and I’ll have to read parts of the “Scandinavian umlaut from an eastern perspective” papers again.

  563. Lars Mathiesen says:

    distinguish the vowel from the consonantu from v, you mean? Both are in the Latin alphabet, that was my point, so why spell /v/ as uu if it sounded like in Latin? (As opposed to /w/).

    EDIT: I don’t remember when the u/v distinction was introduced to Latin writing, probably later than this. But the point remains, if the graph u can stand for /v/ in Latin, why invent uu to denote /v/ in Danish? (Never mind that it was probably /w/ in Classical Latin, by the 11th I think it was /v/ in LL).

  564. David Marjanović says:

    The distinction is much younger (17th century or so; mid-late 20th in the catalog of the university library of Vienna), and uu was invented for [w], not [v].

    OHG manuscripts almost consistently used uu, to the point of rendering /wu/ as uuu most of the time.

  565. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Yes, exactly, and the phoneme we are discussing was spelled uu in the earliest Danish sources. So the First Grammarian may have spelled it v and been vague on the actual value, but he’s not the only game in town.

  566. The First Grammarian did the usual medieval thing of an undifferentiated _u_, which had a more angular form _v_ in some positions. He’s not at all vague on the actual value: very clear and very explicit that it’s phonetically the same as /u/, just used as a consonant, i.e. [w], or if you prefer, [u̯].

  567. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Maybe I misunderstood what JC wrote above, but I thought he said we had no evidence from the FG about the value of v in normalized spelling (which he spelled just the same as normalized u). In which case I have been tilting at windmills.

  568. So it’s basically [uɨu] or [u{breve-u}u]?

  569. John Cowan mischaracterized what the First Grammarian said in a couple of ways (both on the value of _u_ and on the supposed lack of phonemic nasalized vowels). See my comment above: http://languagehat.com/indo-european-and-the-yamnaya/#comment-4001800

    I might also add that the modern normalization of Old Norse shows some influence from the First Grammarian, but really isn’t just his system. Aside from not marking certain contrasts phonemic for the FG but lost very slightly later in medieval Icelandic (contrastive nasalization, the á/ǫ́ distinction), there are a few conspicuous differences: e.g. instead of normalized æ, j, v, k, the FG would write ę́, i, u, c, and instead of writing long consonants as two letters, the FG advocates using majuscules (including ᴋ for cc, modern kk).

  570. Lars Mathiesen says:

    @Nelson Goering, in the same post you pointed out a mistake I made, so I didn’t take in the first part. Sorry for making you repeat yourself.

    I would guess the modern use of æ, j, v, k stems from the availability of those sorts when editions started to be published. (ę́ and small caps would be more expensive to use).

    ᴋ specifically was used in Danish printing of Greenlandic (now q) but I don’t know how many printers had it in their lower case. Its name was spelled kra (not ᴋa) which reflects Danish pronounciation, not Greenlandic.

  571. The normalization of Old Norse is a bit complicated. It went hand-in-hand with normalizing modern Icelandic, which is why the two systems are so similar. There was clearly also an awareness of how languages like German were written.

    I probably wouldn’t rate the influence of printing too much, though it certainly set the broad limits and options. There’s no reason why you couldn’t print ‘wine’ as uín rather than vín, or ‘in’ as j́ rather than í. The use of æ interchanging for ę́ had a long history well before printing. I suppose printing would favour æ, but this probably would have won out in any standardization anyway, to judge by the later manuscript usage (unless there are more variations in early modern MSS, which I don’t know very well).

    There was also a merger of ON œ and æ as æ, now modern [aɪ], which has probably reinforced this — you have one modern symbol (æ) which in historical texts can be split into two related symbols (æ and œ). The FG’s ę́ and ǿ don’t link the two sounds at all, which after all wouldn’t merge until generations after he wrote.

    I think the FG’s biggest influence was in introducing the symbol ǫ (hooked o) for [ɔ], which I believe was his invention. This didn’t make it into the modern normalization, since [ɔ] had merged with [ø] and is now spelled ö (more German influence). But many editions of Old Norse split these up, using ø and ǫ.

  572. Lars Mathiesen says:

    That fronting merger of [ɔ] made me very confused at one time, before I understood that I couldn’t use the modern values for Old Norse. It made no sense that the u-umlaut of a should be [œ].

  573. Trond Engen says:

    It’s a large gap in my self-education that I’ve never gotten around to reading The First Grammatical Treatise.

    There’s a small difference in normalization of Old Norse/Old Icelandic between Norway and Iceland, with the Norwegian normal upholding some phonetic values and phonemic distinctions abandoned in the Icelandic form. I think it’s mostly due to Icelandic normalization serving the good purpose of easing access to the old literature for contemporary readers and Norwegian normalization tending to the needs of the professional reader doing historical analysis, since the language must be translated for modern readers anyway.

  574. “There’s a small difference in normalization of Old Norse/Old Icelandic between Norway and Iceland”

    The situation is certainly not _just_ along national lines — the Icelandic series Íslenzk fornrit (‘old writings in Icelandic’), which is often regarded as a standard series, uses a different (and highly influential) normalization from texts aimed at a more popular Icelandic readership.

    I recommend the FGT highly, if you read Norse — it’s not very long, and pretty entertaining, aside from its linguistic interest.

  575. Trond Engen says:

    I recommend the FGT highly, if you read Norse

    That’s a big “if”. I certainly want to, and sometimes I can for long runs of text, and even start to think I perceive style or subtext. But it usually takes a lot of work. Or parallel reading.

  576. John Cowan says:

    I see that Einar Haugen’s 1972 edition of the FGT includes an English translation and commentary. Currently the cheapest price on Bookfinder is US$45, a good half of which is shipping from New South Wales to NYC.

  577. David Marjanović says:

    I have now read Laker’s paper (from 2018) and agree with some of the arguments, but others I’m not sure I understand, and I’ll have to read parts of the “Scandinavian umlaut from an eastern perspective” papers again.

    I still haven’t done that, but I should have mentioned that the paper talks about the chronology of Germanic i-umlaut. It has long been known that it spread south from the North Sea and arrived in High German only around the time of the first writings. Around the North Sea it must have happened centuries earlier. The paper mentions the oldest English y-runes (u with i stuck in under it) and the oldest new o runes (after the old o had become œ because its name had been umgelautet from *ōdil to *œ̄dil): they’re from the 6th century, one apparently from the late 5th. In other words, the Angles landed in Britain and promptly phonemicized their rounded front vowels, and it seems possible that the fashion spread from there to the mainland.

  578. Just as soon as lactose discussion seemed to fizzle

    well I guess it never really fizzles 🙂

    A new paper with a lot of Middle Eastern genomes confirms that lactose tolerance in Arabia is due to a completely distinct genetic variation in the same LCT gene, which also spread in the last 8,000 years (the authors estimate a selection coefficient of about 1%, almost as high as the traditional estimates for the Europeans, although we now have reasons to suspect that in Northern Europe, the spread of lactase persistence may have been even faster).
    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.10.18.342816v1.full.pdf

    The Mid-Eastern LCT variant isn’t seen anywhere in the world, and in reaches the high of 50% frequency in the Saudis.

    Just like in Europe, they also see a selection in intelligence-correlated genetic factors, but the discussion of these always bogs down in the scenarios of various indirect effects.

    In terms of historic and prehistoric genetic flows, they confirm the already-reported spreads of “ancient Iranian” DNA (which was absent in the region before the Bronze Age) and sub-Saharan African DNA (coming in the Islamic era). They put approximate dates on the “ancient Iranian” DNA flow, perhaps with Semitic and Kushitic languages, suggesting that it first swept the Fertile Crescent, then Egypt, and finally Ethiopia and Arabia. There is also a minor but unmistakable Steppe component in the Northern half of the Near East, but they haven’t timed it conclusively; perhaps it can eventually tell us more about the ethnic processes in the murky Hittite times?

  579. David Marjanović says:

    Probably later – Armenians, Iranians?

  580. Dmitry Pruss says:

    Or Romans. Or all of the above. My point it, with more data, one should be able to date it.

  581. A small update on the actual Yamnaya (and its immediate predecessors and descendants in the North Caucasus region), from the team of Corina Knipper who reported, two or three years ago, that the Central European Bronze Age farmers were taking wives from far away, using the isotope analysis of the bone.

    The Yamnaya continuum DNA of the areas further North shows gradual flow of DNA from the South, apparently with the brides from far away as well. Knipper et al. were able to analyze a different area, and to separate native habitats of the people there into three broad categories of highlands, foothill steppes, and dry flatland steppes. But they didn’t see much spousal migration between the three ecological zones. Whoever died on the Steppe pretty much grew up somewhere on the Steppe too.

    Some commenters made a far-reaching conclusion that the Bronze Age Steppe peoples simply stayed put or at least never migrated far. I think that it’s a whopping overinterpretation. It’s more like, people who ended up near the Caucasus foothills in the end of their lives didn’t migrate outside of their birth habitat. But it could have meant long-distance treks over the steppes anyway – and more importantly, we didn’t learn anything about people who may have been born near the Caucasus but migrated away from the study’s narrow geographic region.

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0239861

  582. I think that it’s a whopping overinterpretation.

    105 human and 50 animal individuals from the 5th millennium BC to the Sarmatian period, [abstract]

    I think any interpretation from that size sample is dubious. Perhaps the ones who took wives from far away were the elite, who got ritual burials, which are the only remains to have survived to be DNA-sampled.

    Did the wives bring any linguistic influences with them? Presumably over that span of time, the human population was several orders of magnitude greater than 105. Then we’ve no idea how representative is that sample.

  583. from that size sample

    For me the sample size is the smallest of the things which stand in the way of generalization of the observations.
    The bigger issue is the limited geographic span. Most of the study sites are in the immediate vicinity of the Caucasus Range (they include the important foothill burials of the earliest presumed ancestors of the Yamnaya, at the Eneolithic sites called Progress and Vonyuchka). One study site is further much, but still only separated by 200 km from the mountain range.

    In contrast, the Yamnaya proper spanned a thousand kilometers further to the North and to the West, and it remains unsampled. But it is at those more distant locations where the genetic evidence of bride travel has been unearthed, and from where the migration further West into Europe is thought to have originated.

  584. John Cowan says:

    Consider all the 19C Chinese people in the U.S. whose remains were repatriated to China as part of their labor contracts.

  585. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry: A small update on the actual Yamnaya (and its immediate predecessors and descendants in the North Caucasus region)

    Thanks. I’m working my way through it, but at baby steps. It’s a busy period both at work and off work. (Not that I complain. I’m lucky to live in a place where business and leasure are almost back to the pre-pandemic normal.)

  586. There is also a minor but unmistakable Steppe component in the Northern half of the Near East, but they haven’t timed it conclusively; perhaps it can eventually tell us more about the ethnic processes in the murky Hittite times?

    A new preprint strongly suggests that it started with Mitanni
    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.10.23.351882v1
    This May, they already reported on the mysterious “lady in the well” uncovered in Alalakh, in todays Southern Turkey near Syrian border. The women, age about 40, has been violently killed and disposed in a well in about 1550-1600 BC. Her DNA was a perfect match to the Bronze Age Steppe-origin peoples from Central Asia and Iran, and no match at all to the rest of the Alalakh skeletons.
    The new preprint adds isotope data to confirm that the “lady in the well” grew up locally. The dates match the times when the Mitanni, believed to be an offshoot of the Indo-Europeans from Iran or Central Asia based on linguistic and archaeological evidence, started squeezing the Hittites out of this buffer area between Mesopotamia and Anatolia. Over time the Mitanni adopted local Hurrian language (and probably mixed with the local populations), but at the moment of the Alalakh lady death they appear to be locally based but not yet mixed with the locals.

  587. Reading the preprint in more details. The authors can’t exclude the possibility that the Well Lady grew up elsewhere, maybe all the way back to Central Asia, because childhood locality is defined by Strontium isotopes and their isotope ratios in Central Asia haven’t been studied. They also can’t evaluate the possibility that her DNA kinsfolk lived in Mesopotamia because no ancient DNA from Iraq has yet been researched.

    Based on her unusual tooth morphology, she might be related to 3 more skeletons from Alalakh which failed to yield enough DNA, so it’s impossible to say if her people were more common in the area. Sadly, most of the higher-ranking burials in this city have been excavated in the 1930s-1940s by Sir Wooley who discarded all the skeletons (the losses of the ancient bones are the strongest in the Royal Precinct where the Well Lady was found). The present analysis is biased for the commoners. So there may be multiple reasons to why the genetic relatives of the Well Lady haven’t been recovered.

  588. Sir Wooley who discarded all the skeletons

    !!

  589. @Dmitry Pruss: What does “unusual tooth morphology” mean here? I’m imagining Snagglepuss features.

    Exit, stage left!

  590. Oh, tooth morphology is definitely unusual; English “teeth” is bad enough, but when you go back to *h₁dónts ~ *h₁dn̥tés

    Exit, pursued by a laryngeal.

  591. Exit, pursued by a laryngeal.

    Ladies and Gentleman, Hat has left the building…

  592. That’s what the preprint says, “dental morphology of the Well Lady shows shoveling of I2” and notes that this trait is passed down in families. Surprisingly, I actually know something about the genetics of incisor shoveling, because the best known genetic variant which causes it is one of a series of genetic changes selected in the ancient Siberians or Beringians with the apparent goal of changing nutrient secretion with the breast milk. The life in these circumpolar cold steppes during the glacial era wasn’t a trivial fit, and effective sustenance of the nursing babies was a big part of it. The classic EDAR V370A gene mutation achieved its goal by broadly altering the development of the ectoderm in utero, changing shape not just of the milk ducts but also nails, hair, and teeth (all of which develop from the ectodermal precursors). The reason why it is in my professional sphere of interests is because the factors which affect the milk ducts also affect breast cancer risk.

    Anyway the “Siberian” EDAR mutation may be the best known one of several related mutations, but shovel-shaped teeth are a hallmark of peoples with ancient Siberian ancestry, including Native Americans, North East Asians, and to some degree Finno-Ugric peoples of Europe. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ancestors of the Mitanni picked a little of it too on their trek to the Urals and thence to the Altai mountains…

    BTW I realized that I used the words “grew up” in two different ways in the two previous messages. The early childhood of the Well Lady may have been thousands miles East, but her later childhood was in the vicinity of Alalakh…

  593. the Mitanni, believed to be an offshoot of the Indo-Europeans from Iran or Central Asia based on linguistic and archaeological evidence

    That’s kind of understatement, because linguistic evidence shows exactly what kind of Indo-Europeans they were – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Aryan_superstrate_in_Mitanni

  594. Dmitry Pruss says:

    That’s kind of understatement

    I needed a kind of understatement because the current evidence is not genetic in nature. They may have been culturally descended from the pre-Indo-Aryans, but the degree to which they were of the same genetic stock hasn’t been established yet.

    The presumed Hittite bones didn’t yield any Steppe-origin DNA, just to give you one example from the same general era. (People still argue if those bones, which didn’t come from a culturally attributable burial, but rather from the dead of sacking of a city, were indeed the Hittites rather than their enemies or slaves… but if they were and if all Indo-Europeans radiated from the Yamnaya homeland, then the Hittites must have retained the language but not the genes).

  595. David Marjanović says:

    *h₁dónts

    Corrigendum: *hdonts, as Wiktionary mostly says – not from *h₁ed- “eat”, but a separate *h₃od- “bite, be sharp”.

    Sir Wooley who discarded all the skeletons

    Colorless green what?

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