The Perception of Indo-European in Greece.

Matthew Scarborough posts on a paper by K. Sampanis and Karantzola, “The perception of historical and Indo-European linguistics in the instruction of Greek,” which he says “contains an interesting discussion of the perception of Indo-European linguistics in modern-day Greece, and how better education in historical linguistics in Greece might help combat linguistic pseudo-science.” He quotes this paragraph (which I presume is the abstract):

Indo-European linguistics has a long tradition which is manifested by an extensive bibliography and findings that are integrated into other domains such as lexicography or comparative philology. Still, one may observe a certain degree of scepticism towards the Indo-European studies, which is largely attributed to the fact that Historical Linguistics’ and Archaeology’s methodologies do not easily comply with each other, so the results of one may question findings of the other. What is more, within the language discourse in Greece, Indo-European linguistics is confronted with an intensive denial of its theories which is based on a ‘hellenocentric’ paralinguistic pseudo-science. The article traces the roots of this anti-Indo-European rhetoric in Greece and indicates the deficient incorporation of IE theory into the language instruction of (Ancient) Greek at primary and secondary education with respect to the way the findings of comparative linguistics are presented in relevant handbooks.

Another sad illustration of the toxic effects of nationalism on one’s sense of reality.

Comments

  1. Interesting. I have met a number of Greeks who claim that Ancient Greek was always pronounced as Modern Greek is today (umpteen different letters for the sound /i/ and all) – that seems something that the average Greek is passionate about, and I’ve read somewhere that the Greek Orthodox Church has pushed it – but I had no idea that people who knew of the IE family and Greek’s place in it disputed those findings.

  2. Bathrobe says:

    Is the Greek situation that much different from the rejection of IE by Hindu nationalists?

  3. Bathrobe.

    Due to the recent genetic studies, a number of hard-line Hindu Nationalists have changed their views, although many are still skeptical. Of course, they already had this kind of data for Greece last year.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/04/south-asians-are-descended-mix-farmers-herders-and-hunter-gatherers-ancient-dna-reveals

  4. @Bahtrobe: Well they don’t reject IE per se, but they hold that the IVC was the urheimat. I wouldn’t be surprised if the situation in Greece were similar, especially since there was a phase when a Balkan origin was popular.

  5. @Lazar, “Well they don’t reject IE per se, but they hold that the IVC was the urheimat.”

    There is a rather prevalent school among Hindutva cranks that Sanskrit has existed since time eternal, and in fact all peoples of the world originally spoke Sanskrit and worshiped the Vedic deities. They claim purported connections between Sanskrit-speaking India and elsewhere that greatly predate the IVC.

  6. “IVC” means “Indus Valley Civilization,” not “Irvine Valley College.”

  7. J.W. Brewer says:

    Ceteris paribus I would rather have kids taught true things about historical linguistics than false things, and I teaching true things would also be better than teaching nothing at all. But I see no reason why any understanding of the broader Indo-European context is necessary to effectively teach Ancient Greek to L1 speakers of Modern Greek. For that matter, I don’t think that the way I was first taught Ancient Greek (let’s see … 33 years ago) was particularly informed by any of the previous almost 200 years of work on comparative IE scholarship and reconstruction. In other words, I was probably taught it (as an Anglophone kid with prior exposure to Latin, whose structural parallels to Greek were obvious but the whys and wherefores of them not explained very well in class) more or less the same way the not-yet-Sir William Jones had been taught it as a boy almost 230 years earlier. Maybe it’s nice that (as the article notes) kids learning Ancient Greek in a German Gymnasium have a text book that mentions in the preface that Greek Latin and German are all related to Lithuanian, but does that really led to better mastery of Greek-qua-Greek? (It might if they already knew Lithuanian, but I suspect that’s the exception rather than the rule …)

    (I do recall one day after class in Homeric Greek when our very old-school-tweedy professor explained to one of my classmates that a particular Gk word was cognate to a particular extremely vulgar/offensive English word – although I think there’s actually a scholarly dispute on the accuracy of that particular etymological relationship. A lovely moment, but not one that made the Greek itself much easier to master.)

  8. Rick.

    Thanks for the link. The biorxiv version was posted three weeks ago.

    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2018/03/31/292581.full.pdf

    One Sentence Summary: Genome wide ancient DNA from 357 individuals from Central and South Asia sheds new light on the spread of Indo-European languages and parallels between the genetic history of two sub-continents, Europe and South Asia

  9. Teaching children the true origin of their language is just as important as teaching them the true origin of their ethnic group (in terms of biology and evolution). Political groups often use, and promote, misunderstandings in these fields to harm minority populations for their own advantage.

  10. I see no reason why any understanding of the broader Indo-European context is necessary to effectively teach Ancient Greek to L1 speakers of Modern Greek.

    It’s not, of course, but that’s not the point — the point is that the willed ignorance of nationalism prevents both an understanding of the Indo-European background of the language and the truth about what Ancient Greek was like (very different from Modern Greek). Of course, you can say that it’s not necessary to know anything at all about the background of one’s language, but that’s a pretty minimalist approach. Certainly if you’re going to teach the background, you shouldn’t be teaching bullshit.

  11. Well, if modern Greek school children are taught to read the Iliad as if it was composed with modern values for the letters, they will still learn something — and you could reasonably adopt the view that teaching them the reconstructed pronunciation would take up too much time for what is gained.

    But if they are actively taught that the sounds of Greek never changed, and if the fact that they can still sort of read Homer that way is used to prove that Greek civilization alone among the corrupt multitudes maintains its greatness and rabid nationalism is OK, then some sad shaking of the head is in order, or even a deep sigh.

  12. J.W. Brewer says:

    Even if you focus on the differences between Modern Greek and Homeric Greek, there’s still a reasonably straight progression from the latter to the former, and the fact that whichever neighboring ethnic groups might be on the receiving end of modern Greek nationalist ire do not have their own famous/canonical texts in comparably old ancestors of their own languages would be more than enough to support a chauvinistic spin on the linguistic history.

  13. J.W. Brewer says:

    Obviously it’s hard to teach a “puristic” version of the history of English with a straight face, but it’s perfectly easy to spin the true history of the language in a way that shows its obvious superiority over foreign tongues. The glorious synthesis of the Saxon and the Norman, creating something better than each component would have been standing alone, keeping some toponyms and whatnot from the Celts the Saxons had conquered and with judicious subsequent borrowings from Latin Greek and other tongues as appropriate (and, mind you, those borrowings were done from a position of cultural strength and confidence rather than weakness!) is a perfectly good rah-rah-us triumphalist narrative. Cf. McWhorter’s book title “Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue,” where only the cute wordplay of using a typically-pejorative word for the synthesis makes it a slogan not fully suitable for humorless triumphalists.

  14. Even if you focus on the differences between Modern Greek and Homeric Greek, there’s still a reasonably straight progression from the latter to the former

    I’m not sure how that’s relevant. Far more relevant is that using modern sound values completely destroys Ancient Greek poetry, for example.

  15. J.W. Brewer says:

    My point is they could teach the pronunciation change w/o having to give up much in terms of a nationalism-friendly narrative, just as Anglophone triumphalists certainly would not feel obligated to even consider the possibility that the substantial change in pronunciation since Chaucer might be a sign of cultural decline or decadence or lack of continuity.

  16. David,

    There is obviously a lot more information packed into the pre-print.

    The other big points are that the steppe people who arrived in South Asia were closely related to the Middle Bronze Age Andronovo and Sintashta people, and so they already had a bit of Early European Farmer ancestry (and that steppe- related ancestry is heaviest in Northern Brahmins).

    The IVC people had a large amount of ‘Ancient Iranian Farmer’ related ancestry, and that ancestry is now heavier in the Dravidian speaking groups.

    And some Austroasiatic speaking groups do not have steppe-related ancestry, hinting strongly that those languages arrived in India before the IE languages did.

  17. My point is they could teach the pronunciation change w/o having to give up much in terms of a nationalism-friendly narrative

    Oh, I see. Well, theoretically, yeah, if Greek nationalism were completely different. The immutability of the language is a firm, if theoretically unnecessary, component of their nationalism, just as anti-Semitism is of certain other forms of nationalism.

  18. J.W. Brewer says:

    As long as you think of the written form of the language as the Real Thing and the spoken form as a variable second-hand approximation of the Real Thing (which is a thing very widely believed by members of literate societies who haven’t taken an intro college linguistics class), acknowledging pronunciation changes need not be thought of as a threat to a narrative about immutability.

  19. “I see no reason why any understanding of the broader Indo-European context is necessary to effectively teach Ancient Greek.”

    Some knowledge of prehistoric sound changes is very helpful in teaching introductory Greek: knowing that earlier *s and *w was lost makes it much easier to memorize all those pesky contractions in declension (it also helps to go on from a beginner’s Attic to reading Homer more smoothly). Ditto for -tt-/-ss- verbs. Even just knowing that the neuter in Indo-European languages was originally a collection makes it less weird for students that neuter plurals take the 3rd person singular of the verb.

  20. @Hat: “using modern sound values completely destroys Ancient Greek poetry, for example.”

    That doesn’t seem to bother the Chinese and Japanese, who read their poetry canons with sound values vastly different from what those ancient poets would have actually uttered, but these peoples still continue to feel that this poetry has value.

  21. J.W. Brewer says:

    I will defer to Mr. Culver’s interesting points about what might make learning Greek easier for some students while simply noting that none of that approach was thought necessary by (and might not have been understood by) the distinguished academics who taught me Attic/Homeric/NT Greek at an Ivy League university in the 1980’s, whose motivation for the omissions was surely not that they were devotees of the Hellenic flavor of modern Balkan nationalism. We learned Greek the unscientific way they had learned it, and their own teachers (and those teachers’ teachers) had learned it in turn, back, as I said, to the way Sir William Jones had probably learned it as a boy in the 1750’s and beyond that into the mists of time. Indeed, revealing some helpful inner logic and pattern to the declension tables might have undermined the important character-building function of studying the classical languages, which was enhanced by the need for rote memorization of the seemingly arbitrary!

  22. J.W. Brewer says:

    Come to think of it, I may have been taking Homeric Greek the same semester I was taking my undergrad class in Historical Linguistics as taught by hat’s erstwhile grad school contemporary Stephanie Jamison, who later went on to run the Indo-European Studies program at another leading US university. And If I’m wrong about that I took HistLing before HomGk not the other way round. I’m not sure how much I bothered to apply what I was learning (or had previously learned) in the latter class to the former, as I was mostly glancing over the next day’s assigned chunk of the Iliad late at night while watching MTV …

  23. David Marjanović says:

    That doesn’t seem to bother the Chinese and Japanese, who read their poetry canons with sound values vastly different from what those ancient poets would have actually uttered, but these peoples still continue to feel that this poetry has value.

    There is a widespread belief that classical poetry is best read aloud in $_southern_dialect (not necessarily the one of the person who brings this up…), but I don’t know if that is about making the rhymes work better or just about decreasing the homophone load (Mandarin having lost the syllable-final plosives and merged -m into -n).

    Actually, for making the rhymes work, Vietnamese is best, as we learned here a while ago. I’m not going to look for it at this time of the night, though.

  24. That doesn’t seem to bother the Chinese and Japanese, who read their poetry canons with sound values vastly different from what those ancient poets would have actually uttered, but these peoples still continue to feel that this poetry has value.

    It doesn’t bother the Greeks either; I’m not sure what your point is. Surely you’re not claiming they’re all better off not pronouncing the ancient poetry accurately? Furthermore, there is no generally accepted standard pronunciation of Ancient Chinese, so the position is very different than for Greek, where we know quite well how the original was pronounced. And of course classical Greek poetry depends crucially on the interplay of long and short syllables, which is lost in modern renderings; you can still get the pretty images and deep thoughts, but the poetry is utterly lost.

  25. You can read a book of song lyrics, and they can be fantastic. However, when you do this, you are not hearing the song, and you have a totally different experience.

    Poems are very much like songs. If the rhyming and/or breathing pattern is not the same, then something is lost.

    Directly translated traditional haiku will still have juxtaposition of images or ideas with a cutting word between them, but they will almost never retain the 5, 7, 5 structure. Again, something is definitely lost.

    In the case of poetry, the change in sounds from an ancient language to a modern one is similar to a translation.

  26. This reminds me of starting a semester of Old Spanish Lit. to find that it was to be read in Mod. Span.
    Having taken Hist. of Span. Lang. in the previous semester I got quite uppity about what I considered
    to be a stupidity. I don!t recall what the prof’s defence was (possibly that not everyone took HSL) but
    I withdrew in high dudgeon.

  27. “Teaching children the true origin of their language is just as important as teaching them the true origin of their ethnic group (in terms of biology and evolution). Political groups often use, and promote, misunderstandings in these fields to harm minority populations for their own advantage.”

    Ironic, because in the Indian case, it was a minority group – the British – promoting the idea of white racial superiority to harm the majority population for their own advantage. It seems to be missed that this present day Hindu nationalist rejection is ultimately the legacy of the British rule of India, which is still fairly recent, when you consider when India became independent.

    It isn’t that Hindu nationalists are intrinsically opposed to the idea that their ancestors were a mix of external migrants and indigenous peoples – or rather, older migrants. It’s that it skirts too close to the ideas the British pushed in order to cow the native Indian population into submission. Indian nationalism, like all nationalist resistance movements in the last century, was predicated on the idea of native equality and independence. Gandhi’s rejection of British rule was based on the premise that the Indians didn’t need the British, that they were a proud, accomplished people in their own right deserving of equal treatment. Obviously, the idea that much of what we know as Indian civilization is itself the product of Indo-Aryan colonization threatens the foundations of India’s perceived independence, made worse by the fact that these Indo-Europeans are particularly associated with modern Europeans by most Western literature.

    Basically, in the eyes of many Indians, accepting Indo-Aryan colonization is tantamount to accepting that the Nazis and the British were right – that the natives of India were inferior and did require a superior white race to bring them civilization and to rule over them. Thus the vehement denial. In the days to come, we will see what narrative Indians ultimately settle on, but I doubt it will be one that accepts wholeheartedly the Indo-Aryan invasion theory – the white supremacist version, any way.

  28. That is good, because the white supremacists version is wrong. There is no sign of an invasion, but there are absolute signs of language and genetic shifts just after the IVC collapsed.

    A major issue, that is incredibly difficult for people to come to terms with, is that some proportion of their ancestry comes from populations that they consider to be intrusive. Those ancestors are also part of their heritage.

  29. Basically, in the eyes of many Indians, accepting Indo-Aryan colonization is tantamount to accepting that the Nazis and the British were right – that the natives of India were inferior and did require a superior white race to bring them civilization and to rule over them. Thus the vehement denial. In the days to come, we will see what narrative Indians ultimately settle on, but I doubt it will be one that accepts wholeheartedly the Indo-Aryan invasion theory – the white supremacist version, any way.
    It isn’t like the same argument didn’t apply to Europe as well? The cave-painters, the Minoan kings and the Stonehenge builders likewise “required” a superior invading population to subjugate them all? Andronovo people weren’t Europeans. Just consider them ancient Indians, and the problem is solved

  30. Rick: “You can read a book of song lyrics, and they can be fantastic. However, when you do this, you are not hearing the song, and you have a totally different experience.”

    In the Lieder tradition, the lyrics of songs are poems, so if you read them your experience is what someone intended.

  31. Basically, in the eyes of many Indians, accepting Indo-Aryan colonization is tantamount to accepting that the Nazis and the British were right – that the natives of India were inferior and did require a superior white race to bring them civilization and to rule over them.

    That’s an idiotic response, but I guess whatever it takes to keep from having to think seriously about history (or anything else) is a port in a storm. Better to stay snug in one’s warm bath of self-regard.

  32. Does the idea that the Aryans were light-skinned / blond / blue-eyed have any actual basis in genetics or ancient literature? What I gather is that Gobineau (later channelled by the Nazis) thought the Aryans of the Rg-Veda were ‘bright’ and ‘noble’ and therefore white, but if they were in fact mostly Iranian steppe dwellers they might not have looked very much like the archetypical German Junker or English Lord.

    Of course words have power so you might have to call the Proto-II speakers something else than Aryans to make the idea palatable to former British subjects, but conflating them with Northern Europeans is just 200 year old fake news.

  33. actual basis in genetics or ancient literature?Andronovo people were heterogenous, lighter-skinned compared to ancient inhabitants of India, but likely looking swarthy to today’s Europeans, with a spectrum of variation of eye colors and hair. There has been a lot of selection on skin / eye / hair color in recent millennia “after PIE”, generally thought to be a sexual selection for lighter colors. The precise conclusions about the past populations are harder to get even after their genomes are read, because the “genetics of colors” isn’t as clear-cut as the one-page primers on Mendelian inheritance in men would paint it. The main genetic loci are by far the most important today, but they don’t explain the whole picture (there are numerous additional genetic factors, including inferred-but-undiscovered “missing heritability” factors, with relatively minor roles at present, but potentially stronger roles in the past)

  34. David Reich, the last author of the biorxiv paper on PIE, has recently published a book on population genetics. There is a review in the NY Times.

  35. David Marjanović says:

    with a spectrum of variation of eye colors and hair

    Blue eyes must have been very rare, though, because they come from the Western Hunter-Gatherers in the western half of Europe. (All of the few WHG sequenced so far had blue eyes – and skin about as dark as found in southern India today. None of the contemporary Early European Farmers had blue eyes before people started to mingle, and the same is true for the Yamnaya people yet sequenced.) That said, there’s some Early European Farmer ancestry in Sintashta, so there must have been some WHG ancestry there as well.

    There is a review in the NY Times.

    Another review, by a historical linguist, is here.

  36. The light eye color allele of HERC2 was also found in a 13,300 year old Caucasus hunter-gatherer, and the Bronze Age steppe people had considerable ancestry from this population.

    But the recessive allele has only found in ~15% of Middle to Late Bronze Age samples, so blue or green eyes must have indeed been quite rare (~2%) in the region.

  37. David Marjanović says:

    The light eye color allele of HERC2 was also found in a 13,300 year old Caucasus hunter-gatherer

    Oh, I missed that.

  38. With regard to Reich’s book, he suggests that Greenberg’s Amerind hypothesis that all Native American languages with the exception of the Eskimo-Aleut group and Athabascan are related was vindicated by DNA analysis showing that all Native American populations have ancestry going back to a group he refers to as the “First Americans”, who entered North America at a time depth of more than 15,000 years ago. (Some Native Americans, e.g., Eskimos and Athabascan groups, also have ancestry from a few other ancient populations that entered North America at a later date.) But isn’t he assuming that the ancient First Americans all spoke the same language or related languages?

  39. He is assuming that largely because the First Americans were extremely homogeneous genetically, and had experienced a very strong genetic bottleneck in Beringia.

    It may be that there were multiple languages involved, but it seems very unlikely that people would be so closely related without speaking the same language, given the circumstances.

  40. Marja Erwin says:

    So where do Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Pedra Furada, etc. fit? Because there were humans in the Americas before Clovis.

  41. This recent paper clarifies a lot of the ancient (and modern) genetic data about the peopling of the American continents.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25173

    Basically, there were distinct, but very highly related populations in Beringia for many thousands of years. It is not unlikely that there were several early, but ultimately unsuccessful, migrations south along the coastline. Perhaps some of these left traces in the heart of the Amazon, where some tribes have extra minor genetic affinity to Andaman Islanders.

    But ultimately, the major wave of expansion occurred very quickly from a small population, and all the way down to the most southern point, and then northward on the other coast, and inward along all the major rivers.

  42. Didn’t there use to be a faux-British “Shakespeare accent” — a non-rhotic, mid-Atlantic stage pronunciation employed by American actors in elevated drama? After all, it stands to reason that Shakespeare was an RP speaker.

    I wonder if the proponents of the theory that Greek pronunciation hasn’t changed much since Homer would be prepared to re-reconstruct PIE with the sounds of Modern Greek. The Hindutva “linguists” I have met in various discussion groups certainly insisted that “true” PIE was practically synonymous with Vedic (with a few reluctant concessions on their part). They even questioned Grassmann’s Law and the Law of Palatals.

  43. David Marjanović says:

    So where do Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Pedra Furada, etc. fit? Because there were humans in the Americas before Clovis.

    The whole Clovis culture is only 13,200 years old.

  44. David Eddyshaw says:

    I wonder if the proponents of the theory that Greek pronunciation hasn’t changed much since Homer would be prepared to re-reconstruct PIE with the sounds of Modern Greek.

    Evidently ludicrous. PIE had the sounds of Modern Welsh. (As you’d expect, given that recent genetic advances show that the Indoeuropean homeland was in Llanelli.)

  45. David Marjanović says:

    I wonder if the proponents of the theory that Greek pronunciation hasn’t changed much since Homer would be prepared to re-reconstruct PIE with the sounds of Modern Greek.

    PIE had the sounds of Modern Welsh.

    All Yesterdays!

  46. Trond Engen says:

    I read the India paper a couple of weeks ago on a tip from Dmitry Pruss. By compiling a lot of data from Central Asia and Western Siberia, it also has things to say about BMAC, and the Andronovo culture comes out as extremely interesting. What it does not incorporate is the recent results on the genetic history of Southeast Asia and the Austroasiatic migrations, which might have thrown even more light on the Indian East-West gradient and the place of Munda.

    Poking around I also found a recent paper on the genetics of Minoans and Mycenean Greeks that concluded that the two were almost identical, with only a tiny bit of Steppe ancestry in the Myceneans.

  47. Didn’t there use to be a faux-British “Shakespeare accent” — a non-rhotic, mid-Atlantic stage pronunciation employed by American actors in elevated drama?

    We discussed the “Transatlantic accent” back in 2011.

  48. I wouldn’t say they found a tiny amount of steppe ancestry in Mycenaeans. They averaged ~20% ancestry from Middle-Late Bronze Age ancestry (most similar to Sintashta, Srubnaya, or Corded Ware), and the rest was like Minoans (who already had additional ancestry from a Caucasus related population).

  49. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks. I concluded that they were the result of a recent IE intrusion into the Minoan civilization, but I must have misremembered the proportions.

  50. SFReader says:

    Re: Myceneans

    Robert Drews believes that Mycenean Greece was something similar to later Hellenistic empires in Asia – Greek conquering elite (tiny percentage of population, perhaps running under 10%) lording over masses of non-Greek population.

    Greece became majority ethnically Greek sometime during Dark Centuries after fall of Mycenean Greece.

  51. The study looked at 4 Mycenaeans from 1700–1200 BC. They were not from ruling elite burials, and they had from 15-30% Middle-Late Bronze Age (steppe-like) ancestry, which is genetically similar to modern Greek people.

    Here is how they described the graves:

    “Seven rock-cut chamber toms were excavated between 1985 and 1993 in the area of Apatheia, ca. 2 km west of the modern town of Galatas, in the northern foothills of Mt. Adheres. Those tombs held the burials of ordinary people, judging by the few, common-type furnishings of the deceased.”

    “In 1995 a group of nine Mycenaean tombs were excavated in the modern town of Salamina, near the church of Ayia Kyriaki on Demosthenous street. The furnishings of the deceased included faience jewelry and some objects of bronze, indicating that the individuals buried in that tomb were wealthier than the average people, although they may not be viewed as members of a ruling elite, judging by the absence of any prestige items in the grave offerings.”

  52. Robert Drews believes that Mycenean Greece was something similar to later Hellenistic empires in Asia – Greek conquering elite (tiny percentage of population, perhaps running under 10%) lording over masses of non-Greek population.

    The trouble with this idea is that many of the taxpayers mentioned in the Linear B tablets have very obvious Greek names, some of them with transparent Greek etymologies even though not recorded in later times. For example, the name Qe-ra-di-ri-jo comes out *Τηλανδριος ‘far:man:PATRONYMIC”, a perfectly plausible piece of Greek; on the other hand, Ka-na-to-po is a woman’s name, but not identifiable.
    (Chadwick’s examples).

  53. SFReader says:

    Yes, Drews mentions the names, says they indicate about 40% Greek and the remainder non-Greek. All the people in the records were part of the palace economy which should have the highest concentration of Greeks, but even here they fail to achieve a majority!

    So it follows that the ratio in the country as a whole was much more in favor of non-Greeks, maybe 20:80, maybe 10:90.

  54. marie-lucie says:

    Greek conquering elite (tiny percentage of population, perhaps running under 10%) lording over masses of non-Greek population.

    Such as in Sparta?

  55. There must have still been a considerable migration to Greece at this time, because 4 out of 4 non-elite burials tested from the 1700–1200 BC timespan already had this additional 20% ancestry from presumably Indo-European speakers.

    This was not from a ruling class that kept themselves separated from the rest of the population. So, even if we assume a higher rate of population growth in the migrants, it still requires a lot of people moving in.

    What is known about the process of naming children in Minoans and Mycenaeans?

  56. David Marjanović says:

    Such as in Sparta?

    Except that Sparta was Dorians ruling over Arcadians. Mycenaean Greek already has one or two Arcado-Cypriot innovations, IIRC.

    What is known about the process of naming children in Minoans and Mycenaeans?

    In Minoans nothing as usual.

  57. What Mycenaen has in common with Arcadio-Cypriot is more probably shared primitive characters. Indeed, the same may well be true of Arcadian and Cypriot themselves.

  58. Trond Engen says:

    I found and reread Lazaridis et al.: Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans. From the abstract:

    Here we show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least three-quarters of their ancestry from the first Neolithic farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean, and most of the remainder from ancient populations related to those of the Caucasus and Iran. However, the Mycenaeans differed from Minoans in deriving additional ancestry from an ultimate source related to the hunter-gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia, introduced via a proximal source related to the inhabitants of either the Eurasian steppe or Armenia.

    I had noticed the almost totally dominant haplotype J Y-chromosome, seemingly associated with the Caucasus/Iran element, and the speculation (later in the paper) of genetic diffusion into Mycenaean from Balkan neighbours rather than a migration event into Mainland Greece from north, but I must have missed the inferred admixture rate of 13-18%. Four Mycenaeans is a small sample, though, so the similar genetic composition could still be a coincidence.

    Another point I missed last time is that the Caucasus/Iran element may actually represent the wave that brought Anatolian languages to Anatolia.

  59. David Marjanović says:

    But then we should expect an Anatolian substrate in Greek, right?

  60. Trond Engen says:

    Yes, probably. And an Anatolian language in Linear A. Both have been suggested. But I was careful to say “the wave that brought Anatolian languages to Anatolia”. The wave could also have picked up some Ante-Anatolian language on its way through Anatolia.

  61. David Marjanović says:

    Very good point.

    Too bad the term chain migration is taken…

  62. Trond Engen says:

    Rick: This recent paper clarifies a lot of the ancient (and modern) genetic data about the peopling of the American continents.

    I took this over in another thread.

  63. Eidolon says:

    “It isn’t like the same argument didn’t apply to Europe as well? The cave-painters, the Minoan kings and the Stonehenge builders likewise “required” a superior invading population to subjugate them all? Andronovo people weren’t Europeans. Just consider them ancient Indians, and the problem is solved.”

    The disparity in perception is logically explained by differences in history. Europe was not recently colonized by Indians; India was recently colonized by Europeans. Without this memory, it would not be much of an issue – at worst an arcane dispute between fringe nationalists about who is “closer” to the “Aryans.” But because the shadow of British rule is but seventy years old, and still relevant to discussions of Indian national identity today, sensitivity is much higher. History is always interpreted in the present, after all.

  64. The possible Anatolian substratum in Greek. But we don’t really know if the words are substratal or shared primitive characters.

  65. David Marjanović says:

    The -nd-/-nth- suffix is much more widespread in space and in the lexicon (e.g. agricultural terms), so probably comes from a common substrate. The list of possible Anatolian loanwords (which includes a few clear Wanderwörter from, at least ultimately, elsewhere) comes from this paper, which makes clear in its first footnote that it’s not arguing for Anatolian languages in Greece, and then calls Miletus the “center” of a “zone of intense Mycenaean settlement”…

  66. Speaking of Anatolian, there is a new paper that doesn’t find any Yamnaya-like ancestry in either the first horse herding Botai people, or in Copper or Early Bronze Age Anatolians (Hittites).

    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2018/05/08/science.aar7711.full

    The supplement is free.

    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/suppl/2018/05/08/science.aar7711.DC1/aar7711_de_Barros_Damgaard_SM.pdf

  67. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks. The apparent lack of Yamnaya ancestry in Anatolia has been around for a while, and this adds to the evidence.

    I’ve worked my way through the supplements, but I won’t pretend to have anything near a comprehensive understanding. Reading the paper itself might have helped with context, but at least I’ve read the article in Science and the university press release.

    The description of the Anatolian archaeological sites is interesting. Apparently they have large numbers of skeletons from defining events in the history of the Hittite empire, and a clear theory of which skeletons that group together as defending or attacking forces. This could mean that…

    1) they were able to assign ethnicities (yes, I know) to members of the different groups much more confidently than with single graves or even graveyards.

    2) the few Anatolian genomes they used for the current study is just a sample of a much larger inventory, chosen for their typicality or representativity, which would mean that the lack of steppe ancestry in Hittite Anatolia is more certain than the number suggests.

    3) there’s a much more comprehensive study of ancient Anatolian genomes coming up, detailing how they vary over time, how the sides in the dramatic events differ from eachother and who they are related to, and how each of them represent different layers in the history of Anatolia.

  68. David Marjanović says:

    Very interesting, I’ll read it tomorrow.

    Speculation: Hyllested’s *kobʰ- “slow horse*” is a loanword from the Botai people…

    * As opposed to *h₁éḱ-u- “the fast one”, Non-Anatolian *h₁éḱ-w-o-.

  69. Trond Engen says:

    Please do. But note that none of my points 1-3 are there. They are entirely speculative — or wishful thinking — based on the description of the Anatolian sites.

  70. And just to keep things interesting, today there is a pre-print paper about the ancient genetics of the Caucasus, including from the Maykop Culture.

    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/05/16/322347

  71. …today there is a pre-print paper about the ancient genetics of the Caucasus, including from the Maykop Culture.

    I give up on genetics. It’s coming in too fast and getting faster.

  72. That is true. But it does give a very fresh perspective on the interactions and relationships between ancient cultures.

  73. Trond Engen says:

    Y: I give up on genetics. It’s coming in too fast and getting faster.

    I made that observation a few days ago. And then this came.

    Still, I read the paper yesterday night. It’s not fine-grained enough to be the final word on the Caucasus, but it shows a long period of contact through the region, showing up as a steadily increasing “southern” genetic component on the steppe and likewise a “steppe” component in (especially the northern) Caucasus. I.e. the cultural mix apparent in the Maykop culture is mirrored in the development of the genetic makeup.

    Another insight is that Yamnaya, from the fourth millennium BCE, had a stream of “Anatolian” genes, but because it contained a WHG (rather than CHG/Iranian) element this must be from a different source than the Caucasus, likely an undefined (or maybe varied) source in the European farming cultures. Cucuteni/Tripolye and Globular Amphora were mentioned, but the math works just as well with Iberians, apparently, so it can’t be specified further yet. There were settlements of early farmers along the Ukrainian rivers.

    The paper mentions the increased exchange of goods and ideas in the 4th millennium, well before the Yamnaya explosion that spread IE languages. What we see in the steppe genes, then, may be that the steppe populations had developed long-distance trade (or before the horse: a web of medium distance exchange that nevertheless transmitted goods and produced added value). What we see in the Northern Caucasus may be that it was important to be connected to this web.

    Finally, the authors suggest that the ultimate IE homeland may be south of the Caucasus. This would mean that Anatolian languages never moved north, while Yamnaya was Indo-Europeanized through the Maykop culture. That could be elite replacement, but we may also imagine Maykop IE as lingua franca of the steppe trade and a long period of bilingualism. They say that a southern homeland would work for Greek and Armenian as well. This may be true in terms of genetics, but I don’t see how they could have developed outside the main body of IE.

    Also: Consider Kurdish. It may be spoken just south and west of the IE homeland, but it came there by a route north through the Caucasus, west through Ukraine, northwest to Poland, east through Belarus and down the upper/middle Volga to the Southern Urals, a long period of back and forth on the Steppe and in Central Asia, and finally south and west through Iran. Take that, parsimony!

    Rick: That is true. But it does give a very fresh perspective on the interactions and relationships between ancient cultures.

    Yes. The triangulation between genetics, archaeology and linguistics has made the Eneolithic and Bronze Age come alive in a whole new way, Just a few years ago pretty much everything before the Migration Era was considered static, with slow changes through internal development and cultural diffusion. Now it has moved to the point were every cultural change was transmitted by migration. But that’s just low-hanging fruits. With even finer grained genetic maps, I expect we’ll see a more nuanced picture, or a mosaic of tiny nuanced pictures, with periods of cultural transmission accompanied by genetic flow interchanging with major upheavals as well as periods of relative isolation. This paper, with its analysis of admixture rates over time, may be taking us in that direction. And not only in the history of Indo-Europeans. That’s just low-hanging fruit too. The spillover effects are about to do great things in Siberia.

  74. ə de vivre says:

    Also: Consider Kurdish

    Don’t say that too loud, Erdoğan might be listening…

    More seriously, where does that path come from? I’m not up on the latest reconstructions of Iranian family relations, but if the Andronovo culture represents the Indo-Iranian homeland, why would Kurdish need the extra peregrinations beyond a clockwise (or counter-clockwise, like I said, my knowledge of the Iranian language family is pretty broad strokes) turn around the Caspian into the Zargos-Taurus highlands?

  75. Trond Engen says:

    Because I wanted to overstate the case. I’m not sure the language took the full circle through Russia or if it’s just a part of the genes that did. But that Iranian formed on the central Steppe is pretty clear.

  76. SFReader says:

    This would mean that Anatolian languages never moved north

    isn’t that impossible given what we know about language contact between Hittite and Hattic?

    it strongly suggests rather recent (circa 2000-2200 BC) first contact with Hattic being the aboriginal language.

  77. ə de vivre says:

    Then there’s the presence of Indo-Aryan/Indo-Iranian theonyms in Hurrian rulers in more-or-less-current Kurdistan in the second half of the second millennium BC. So who knows what the heck in going on there…

  78. I give up on genetics. It’s coming in too fast and getting faster.

    I rely on Trond’s summaries.

  79. “Finally, the authors suggest that the ultimate IE homeland may be south of the Caucasus. This would mean that Anatolian languages never moved north, while Yamnaya was Indo-Europeanized through the Maykop culture. That could be elite replacement, but we may also imagine Maykop IE as lingua franca of the steppe trade and a long period of bilingualism. They say that a southern homeland would work for Greek and Armenian as well. This may be true in terms of genetics, but I don’t see how they could have developed outside the main body of IE.”

    I really don’t see how the authors can come to this conclusion based on the data presented. They are basically just saying that because Maykop artifacts are found in “Steppe Maykop” mound burials, it shows that they could have also passed a language to the other people of the steppe. However, the earliest Yamnaya have a distinct genetic profile, that seems to have formed before the Maykop (because it lacks the farmer ancestry) and is also distinct from the “Steppe Maykop”.

    They are basically suggesting that the CHG ancestry took the IE languages to Anatolia, Armenia, and Greece. But we can see clearly that the Minoans already had this CHG ancestry, and the Mycenaeans had an additional Yamnaya-like ancestry on top of that. Additionally, there were many non-IE speaking ancient cultures that had heavy CHG ancestry from a closely related source.

    The data definitely can not be used to suggest that Maykop were IE speakers. There is just no evidence for that.

  80. Trond Engen says:

    SFReader: isn’t [Anatolians never moving north] impossible given what we know about language contact between Hittite and Hattic?

    it strongly suggests rather recent (circa 2000-2200 BC) first contact with Hattic being the aboriginal language.

    I don’t know. Can we time the first contact that precisely? de Barros Damgaard et al. looked at genes from Hittite sites in Anatolia in a broader Eurasian context, and they included some new linguistic evidence. From Copenhagen University’s press release:

    The authors also demonstrate the oldest known Indo-European language, Hittite, did not result from a massive population migration from the Eurasian Steppe as previously claimed.

    In contrast to a series of recent studies on population movement in Europe during the Bronze Age, the new results from Asia suggest that population and language spread across the region is better understood by groups of people mixing together.

    Gojko Barjamovic, Senior Lecturer on Assyriology at Harvard University, explains:

    “In Anatolia, and parts of Central Asia, which held densely settled complex urban societies, the history of language spread and genetic ancestry is better described in terms of contact and absorption than by simply a movement of population.”

    He adds:

    “The Indo-European languages are usually said to emerge in Anatolia in the 2nd millennium BCE. However, we use evidence from the palatial archives of the ancient city of Ebla in Syria to argue that Indo-European was already spoken in modern-day Turkey in the 25th century BCE. This means that the speakers of these language must have arrived there prior to any Yamnaya expansions.”

    It’s increasingly clear that Anatolians lacked the genetic trace of an intrusion from the Steppe. That forces us to consider other options.

    Hat: I rely on Trond’s summaries.

    At your own peril.

    Rick: I really don’t see how the authors can come to this conclusion based on the data presented.

    No, and I don’t think they mean to conclude as much, just suggest the possibility. They clearly see the need to explain the discrepancy between Anatolian and Yamnaya genes. As do I. The sentence about elite replacement and lingua franca status was my shot at how this might have happened.

    But as I said above, the description of the archaeological sites in the supplementary materials to de Barros Damgaard et al makes me think there’s a larger study of the genetics of battles in ancient Hittite cities coming up. That might turn things around.

  81. “It’s increasingly clear that Anatolians lacked the genetic trace of an intrusion from the Steppe. That forces us to consider other options.”

    Right. There were definitely not massive IE migrations at this early time, because we don’t see anything obvious from the first handful of genomes. And so, the source and direction of movement of the common PIE language are now again unclear.

    What is clear is that (other than Anatolian) the Indo-European languages we’re initially spread from large-scale migrations of Yamnaya-like populations.

  82. Trond Engen says:

    And so, the source and direction of movement of the common PIE language are now again unclear.

    I don’t think it is. Surely I don’t mean to suggest anything like that. What may be unclear, but that never was very clear anyway, is what happened before the Yamnaya explosion spread IE languages left, right and center. But I do agree that the conclusion of the article is muddling the matters by being, er, not clear enough in its adherence to the Yamnaya account. Even the rejection of a direct eastward spread of Indo-Iranian comes through as somewhat preliminary.

    What is clear is that (other than Anatolian) the Indo-European languages we’re initially spread from large-scale migrations of Yamnaya-like populations.

    Quite right. And surprises like the Corded Ware element in Indo-Iranian don’t change the big picture.

    I also agree that there’s much room for change in Anatolia when more genomes get sequenced.

  83. David Marjanović says:

    Very interesting, I’ll read it tomorrow.

    …by which I mean tomorrow, or the day after. I’ve started reading the preprint on the genetic history of the Caucasus, though.

    if the Andronovo culture represents the Indo-Iranian homeland

    People buried by the Andronovo culture, as well as people living in northern India today, have enough Early European Farmer ancestry that they must be descended from people who first went west from the Yamnaya culture before turning back east and beyond.

    isn’t that impossible given what we know about language contact between Hittite and Hattic?

    Hittite isn’t indigenous to Hattusas. That doesn’t mean it can’t be indigenous to Kanes, or perhaps to Armenia or whatever. There’s a lot of space in and around Anatolia.

    Then there’s the presence of Indo-Aryan/Indo-Iranian theonyms in Hurrian rulers in more-or-less-current Kurdistan in the second half of the second millennium BC. So who knows what the heck in going on there…

    One of them is Indra, who seems to come from the BMAC much farther east.

    we use evidence from the palatial archives of the ancient city of Ebla in Syria to argue that Indo-European was already spoken in modern-day Turkey in the 25th century BCE

    Oho! We’re almost getting close to Euphratic here.

  84. “One of them is Indra, who seems to come from the BMAC much farther east.”

    This is especially interesting because (now that we have BMAC genomes) there is no evidence that the main BMAC population contributed at all genetically to later South Asians, but steppe communities did mix into the BMAC population.

    This genetic information actually fits well with earlier assumptions.

    Although, if Soma also comes from BMAC, then that might rule out it being Ephreda, but I’m not positive on the geography.

  85. Trond Engen says:

    ə de vivre: Then there’s the presence of Indo-Aryan/Indo-Iranian theonyms in Hurrian rulers in more-or-less-current Kurdistan in the second half of the second millennium BC. So who knows what the heck in going on there…

    The Indo-Aryan element in Mitanni is quite well explained as Indo-Aryan specialists in horses, chariots and composite bows, innovations that spread across the Middle East in the early 17th century BCE. Kurdic languages came later, maybe in the same wave as the Medes, sometime around 1100 BCE. As Northwest Iranians the Medes are closely related to the Kurds, linguistically speaking, but probably not directly ancestral. We may also consider the Cimmerian invasion(s) of the 8th-7th centuries BC, but I tout them as the ancestors of the Armenians.

    David M.: Hittite isn’t indigenous to Hattusas. That doesn’t mean it can’t be indigenous to Kanes, or perhaps to Armenia or whatever. There’s a lot of space in and around Anatolia.

    We need to make room for more than one Anatolian language, but Luwian and the lesser known languages of western Anatolia may perhaps have developed in their attested locations. It would be nice to have a date on the wave of “Caucasus/Iran” genes spreading west through Anatolia.

    Oho! We’re almost getting close to Euphratic here.

    Whittaker’s Euphratic is clearly Non-Anatolian, as I recall. And weirdly early.

  86. ə de vivre says:

    Er, yeah, I didn’t mean to suggest that the Indo-Aryan elite of the Mitanni were ancestors of the modern Kurds (they’re on the wrong side of the Indo-Iranian divide), only that it’s interesting that Indo-Aryan personal names show up so far west. Wandering steppe elites is a pretty plausible explanation, though it’s my understanding that evidence for horsemanship shows up at Hurrian Urkesh before detectable Indo-Aryan presence.

    I’d be curious to see what these supposed “Indo-European” words in the Ebla archives are. Colour me dubious. And Whittaker’s Euphratic is mostly wishful thinking.

  87. Trond Engen says:

    I’d be curious to see what these supposed “Indo-European” words in the Ebla archives are.

    Yeah, me too.

  88. David Marjanović says:

    Whittaker’s Euphratic is mostly wishful thinking

    Not so fast.

    And yes, it does seem to be non-Anatolian, fully formed feminine and all.

  89. David Marjanović says:

    “The Indo-European languages are usually said to emerge in Anatolia in the 2nd millennium BCE. However, we use evidence from the palatial archives of the ancient city of Ebla in Syria to argue that Indo-European was already spoken in modern-day Turkey in the 25th century BCE. This means that the speakers of these language must have arrived there prior to any Yamnaya expansions.”

    I’ve now read the paper. There’s nothing about linguistics in the supplementary information. But ref. 49 is this “Linguistic supplement”, which really ought to have been supplementary information but has only 3 authors. Page 6 lists a bunch of names with distinctively Anatolian roots and/or endings, said to belong to people from a place called Armi which has not been identified but controlled Ebla’s access to Anatolia-associated things like metals. I recommend the whole thing.

    Ref. 48 is “Archaeological supplement A”. Archaeological supplement B is not cited in the paper at all, but is cited in the linguistic supplement…

  90. David Marjanović says:

    Archaeological supplement A. Abstract:

    We present a brief archaeological summary of the main phases of cultural and social change in the Western, Central, and South Asia ca. 4000-1500 BCE as a contextual framework for the findings presented in Damgaard et al. 2018. We stress the role of the Caucasus as a conduit in Western Asia linking the steppe and Eastern Europe with Anatolia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. We track the emergence of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) in Central Asia as a cultural melting pot between the steppe and the sown lands during a period of more than a millennium. And we highlight indicators of cultural and commercial exchange, tracking developments in technology as well as social and political organization that came about as part of complex processes of interaction in a region stretching from South Asia to the Mediterranean.

    Interesting phrase, “the sown lands”.

    Like the linguistic supplement, this is in a tiny, thin font with 2 pages per PDF page.

  91. David Marjanović says:

    Archaeological supplement B. Abstract:

    The archaeological evidence relating to selected key cultures from Central and East Asia from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age is summarized. These cultures include the Eneolithic (Copper Age) Botai culture of northern Kazakhstan, the Bronze Age Okunevo culture from the Minusinsk Basin in Russia and Neolithic to Bronze Age cultures of the Baikal Region in East Siberia. Special consideration is given to the debate surrounding horse domestication within the Botai Culture, and the key lines of evidence are summarized.

    The linguistic supplement consistently renders “Okunevo” as Okunëvo. Good to know, I wouldn’t have guessed.

    Given that the Zenodo numbers are not consecutive, I wonder if there are any more secret supplements.

  92. SFReader says:

    Okunevo culture is named after Bronze Age mound in Okunev ulus in Khakas Republic of southern Siberia.

    The name Okunev is of Khakas origin and unrelated to Russian surname Okunev and Russian placename Okunevo (from Russian okun’- European perch).

    The original Khakas surname was Okunner (lambs in Khakas).

    So Okunëvo referring to Bronze Age archeological culture is both factually wrong and cultural appropriation at its worst.

  93. David Marjanović says:

    Ouch.

  94. Interesting phrase, “the sown lands”.

    The Desert & The Sown.

    So Okunëvo referring to Bronze Age archeological culture is both factually wrong and cultural appropriation at its worst.

    So how should it be stressed? There are a number of places called О́кунево with initial stress, but that too is of Russian rather than Khakas origin.

  95. SFReader says:

    If it was purely Khakas word it would be stressed on the last syllable.

    But it’s not – it’s Russian placename of Khakas origin, so I am not sure which language’s stress rules apply.

    Incidentially, traditional English spelling Okunevo culture is wrong too. In Russian, it’s Okunevskaya kultura from Okunev ulus. The adjective Okunevskaya can be formed both from Okunev and Okunevo – the former is masculine, because ulus is masculine in Russian, the latter is neuter, because it refers to selo (village with a church) which is neuter. If it was derevnya (village without a church) it would become Okunevka (for some reason all derevnyas get dimunituve suffix -k)

  96. Huh, that’s complicated. I guess until I hear otherwise I’ll mentally say Okunévo with penultimate stress.

  97. David Marjanović says:

    I’ve finished reading the known archeological supplements and the preprint on the genetic history of the Caucasus. I now wonder if the Trialeti culture is where the Armenian-Phrygian-Greek branch comes from. Unfortunately it’s not sampled in the preprint. Even more speculatively, I wonder if the late extension of Yamnaya up the Danube is at the origin of “Crotonian”…

  98. January First-of-May says:

    That discussion of names reminds me that every time I see the name “Yamnaya” I feel like it’s something really exotic, before trying to mentally pronounce it and realizing that it’s just Ямная “of the pits”.

    (Also I’m reminded of some place – Geohashing Wiki, IIRC? – that keeps referring to the town of “Belozërsk”, which is actually supposed to be Belozérsk.)

  99. SFReader says:

    Yamnaya sounds like some town on Tierra del Fuego

  100. January First-of-May says:

    Yamnaya sounds like some town on Tierra del Fuego

    Or an Australian Aboriginal language.

  101. David Marjanović says:

    So I finally took a look at the English Wikipedia. There, it’s called Yamna culture, and the article starts with:

    “The Yamna people or Yamnaya culture (traditionally known as the Pit Grave culture or Ochre Grave culture)”

    The second paragraph is:

    Yamna and Yamnaya are borrowed from Ukrainian Ямна культура and Russian Ямная культура respectively. Both mean ‘pit-culture’. This refers to the characteristic pit-burials.”

    The German version similarly starts out:

    “Die Jamnaja-Kultur (nach russisch und ukrainisch яма „Grube“; russisch Ямная культура, ukrainisch Ямна культура, deutsch traditionell Grubengrab- oder Ockergrab-Kultur, englisch Yamna culture, Yamnaya culture oder Pit grave culture)”

    and then adds an etymology section to whine twice over:

    “Die sinngemäße, herkömmliche und weiter aktuelle deutsche Bezeichnung Grubengrabkultur wurde durch Übernahme der englischen Bezeichnungen Yamna culture (Mallory 1997) und Yamnaya horizon (Anthony 2007) verdrängt. Diese Namen beruhen auf der russischen Bezeichnung jamnaja kultura, die ein Adjektiv zu dem Wort jama (Grube) verwendet; die deutsche oder englische Wiedergabe als Kompositum hätte insofern richtiger Jama-Kultur gelautet.”

  102. SFReader says:

    Jama-Kultur

    no doubt related to Emo-Kultur

  103. Rodger C says:

    Or an Australian Aboriginal language.

    My favorite Australian Aboriginal language is Ecnalubma.

  104. Trond Engen says:

    J1M: Or an Australian Aboriginal language.

    I had that thought too. But I got it from the Yanyuwa post.

  105. Trond Engen says:

    David M.: There’s nothing about linguistics in the supplementary information. But ref. 49 is this “Linguistic supplement”, which really ought to have been supplementary information but has only 3 authors. Page 6 lists a bunch of names with distinctively Anatolian roots and/or endings, said to belong to people from a place called Armi which has not been identified but controlled Ebla’s access to Anatolia-associated things like metals. I recommend the whole thing.

    Thanks for that. I finally had time to read it. I too was struck by the Anatolian-ness of the names. But until I see a more detailed examination of the attested names I can’t judge to what degree they reflect e.g. wishful reading of the Eblaite evidence or Ante-Anatolian naming practices, so I’ll wait for the professional judgment.

    The rest of the supplement is a good overview of current thinking on the Asian branches of Indo-European, with the precaution that the precise linking of the early stages of Indo-Iranian to defined archaeological cultures and periods may still be a matter of discussion. I agree that BMAC is the most probable source of Indo-Iranian borrowings, but I wouldn’t rule out that there could be some very early ones of Corded Ware origin, in which case they may even be shared with Germanic and have been accepted as Indo-European. Any candidates?

    Onwards to the archaeological supplements.

  106. January First-of-May says:

    I had that thought too. But I got it from the Yanyuwa post.

    I think the same might have happened in my case, actually. (In any case, to sound like a real Aboriginal language, it should have at least one R, J, or at least W.)

    My actual first association (which I almost posted, but my internet shut down for the last five minutes of the editing period) was Yennayer, the North African (Berber, IIRC) holiday that happens to be a curious coincidental equivalent to what is known in Russia as Old New Year.

  107. to sound like a real Aboriginal language, it should have at least one R, J, or at least W.

    Like Yidiny?

  108. Trond Engen says:

    I’ve now finished reading Archaeological Supplement A. Much could have been achieved with maps.

    I agree that the Trialeti culture is interesting, but I’m not ready to give it a label yet..

  109. David Marjanović says:

    Much could have been achieved with maps.

    Oh yes.

  110. Greg Pandatshang says:

    Speculation: Hyllested’s *kobʰ- “slow horse*” is a loanword from the Botai people…

    A familiar hobby horse!

  111. Trond Engen says:

    That’s brilliant.

    David M.: I now wonder if the Trialeti culture is where the Armenian-Phrygian-Greek branch comes from.

    To keep this discussion here. How does that work if Armenian-Phrygian-Greek is close to Indo-Iranian, which developed in the Eastern steppe before 2000 BCE? Just that all developed from languages that stayed behind on the steppe after the western branches branched off westerly?

  112. Steppe left steppe right. 🙂

  113. Trond Engen says:

    The barbarians are never more than a steppe away.

  114. David Marjanović says:

    A familiar hobby horse!

    That is, in fact, supposed to be one of the descendants of that word.

    if Armenian-Phrygian-Greek is close to Indo-Iranian

    Is it closer than Balto-Slavic? I don’t think it is.

  115. Trond Engen says:

    I don’t know. Some seem to see the closeness of Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian as primarily a contact between Slavic and Iranian. But even if Balto-Slavic-Indo-Iranian is a branch, the question of the perceived closeness til Greek stands.

  116. David Marjanović says:

    a contact between Slavic and Iranian

    That happened, a lot, but it’s clearly not the whole story.

  117. Trond Engen says:

    I’m just trying out scenarios that may reconcile the different suggestions for special relationships. Another such relationship is Germanic-Slavic-Albanian. That might work if they all came out of Post-Tripolye.

    One source of BS-II closeness could be the Corded Ware element in Sintashta, but then we ought to see some isoglosses shared with Germanic too.

  118. David Marjanović says:

    Yennayer, the North African (Berber, IIRC) holiday that happens to be a curious coincidental equivalent to what is known in Russia as Old New Year

    Not coincidental at all – the (northern?) Berber languages have the whole Julian calendar. All roads lead to Rome.

  119. History Twerp says:

    I can’t see why Greek students should be subjected to tracing the etymology of Greek words back to a reconstructed Indo-European proto-language, considering that neither Italian, German or French students are forced to do this.
    The fact that Greek is a member of the Indo-European language family is taught in school, it’s considered standard common knowledge and raises no eyebrows among people with anything above a high school degree.
    The straw man that Sampanis is attacking consists of fringe groups popular with the far right who like to peddle ideas close to those of Erich von Däniken and have no status in the academic community, and cherry-picking his arguments.
    So please spare us with utterances like “another sad illustration of the toxic effects of nationalism on one’s sense of reality.”

  120. The fact is Greeks are far more resistant than “Italian, German or French students” to the idea that their language has been continually changing, and you can’t wave that away by sarcasm and outrage. It is and always has been true that nationalism has toxic effects on one’s sense of reality. (Note that I do not exempt my fellow Americans from this.)

  121. History Twerp says:

    “The fact is Greeks are far more resistant than “Italian, German or French students” to the idea that their language has been continually changing”.

    Well, it’s not a fact, it’s your personal opinion. The idea of change and evolution is explicitly stated in ancient Greek school textbooks. If some students are resistant to this, they’ll be resistant to them citing linguistic evidence regarding IE languages.

    I’ll repeat that the anti-IE sources quoted by Sampanis and Karantzola are: convicted far-right conspiracy theorist Constantinos Plevris, former Communist turned member of the Greek Junta government and far-right theorist George Georgalas, and Law school alumnus and the president of the Arvanites Association Aristides Kollias – these are Alex Jones-style fringe theorists, hardly figures of authority. And they certainly don’t have much to do with “the perception of historical and Indo-European linguistics in the instruction of Greek’.

    On the other hand, Sampanis and Karantzola do admit that “a more straightforward reference to the IE family is traced in a recent school dictionary of Ancient Greek (Simeonidis, Xenis & Fliatouras 2009) in which etymological information goes back to Proto-Greek reconstruction and cognates from other IE languages are provided.” The textbook explains that “Frequently, reference is made to cognate and parallel forms in other IE languages so that the student becomes aware that Greeks is part of this large linguistic family that covers all Europe and reaches India.” So what’s the point again?

    One last point is that IE etymology might as well encourage “toxic nationalism” and help embed it into a wider pan-European nationalism, this time aimed against non-European immigrants. Maybe then you’ll have a new blog subject to write about.

  122. Terminology is a big factor here. No Romance speaker today thinks that their language is basically the same as Latin. However, the fact that Homeric Greek and Modern Greek are both labeled “Greek” makes it easy to forget that the time depth between Homer and today is nearly twice that between Augustine and twenty-first-century Portuguese. Plenty of Greeks, in my experience, think of the language of classical and pre-classical Greek as fundamentally the same tongue as is spoken today, not the (family of) precursor language(s) they actually are.

  123. History Twerp: I have no idea what your problem is or why you’re so belligerent. I don’t care what’s taught in schools, I care how Greeks think; I have spent time in Athens and lived for years in Astoria (the Greek center of New York), and I am very familiar with the nationalistic mindset that claims Ancient Greek was spoken just like the modern language (and insists that “Macedonia is, was, and will be Greek”). This is not “far-right conspiracy theorists,” this is your average Greek. Maybe things have changed in recent years and that form of crazy nationalism is less widespread, which would be great. But I am not making it up.

    One last point is that IE etymology might as well encourage “toxic nationalism” and help embed it into a wider pan-European nationalism, this time aimed against non-European immigrants.

    I have no idea what you’re on about here, but it has nothing to do with linguistics.

  124. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    I think there is a big difference between Greek and the Romance languages. Latin has left several major descendants — French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Roumanian, and no one would regard these as just one language. If Spanish and Portuguese were the only ones, extreme Spanish nationalists might claim that Portuguese was badly pronounced Spanish, but no one could possibly claim that about French and Roumanian. Greek is different: there is only one significant descendant, and the forms spoken today in southern Italy and in remote areas of Turkey can just be dismissed as minor dialects of no importance.

  125. Bathrobe says:

    The Chinese have a similar mentality to the Greeks. Even though it’s well-removed from modern Chinese, the Chinese feel that ancient Chinese is still “Chinese”. It’s as much cultural as linguistic.

  126. John Cowan says:

    Hit is probablice the hiʒlice conservative writing conventiones of Greeke and Chinese þat maken þeir vseres belyfe þat þeir language is vnbehwierft. If we bi the same token wrote English wiþ þe conventiones of þe Beowulf poets daʒ, we miʒt þink þe same þing.

  127. J.W. Brewer says:

    I understand hat’s priorities when he says “I don’t care what’s taught in schools, I care how Greeks think,” but wasn’t the original premise here (perhaps a naive one?) that what Greeks think is causally affected by what Greek school curricula do and don’t teach about the history of the language and thus might change if the curricula changed?

  128. David Marjanović says:

    Latin has left several major descendants — French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Roumanian, and no one would regard these as just one language.

    Had some form of not-just-Eastern Roman empire stayed intact or formed again soon enough, they totally would, as they do with the analogs in China.

  129. January First-of-May says:

    It is said that the language of the Lay of Igor’s Campaign is described as Old Russian by the Russians, Old Ukrainian by the Ukrainians, and Old Belarussian by the Belarussians.

    (It is, of course, essentially all three, because it predates the divergence of the three languages.)

  130. Bathrobe says:

    @ January First-of-May

    Ah, yes, but who is The Lay of the Host of Igor (I like the older title for the totally puerile reason that it suggests that Igor’s host obligingly provided him with a ‘lay’ for the night) claimed by? Is there any dispute among the Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians as to who actually ‘owns’ it? That is where the toxicity of nationalism would come in.

  131. January First-of-May says:

    Ah, yes, but who is The Lay of the Host of Igor (I like the older title for the totally puerile reason that it suggests that Igor’s host obligingly provided him with a ‘lay’ for the night) claimed by? Is there any dispute among the Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians as to who actually ‘owns’ it? That is where the toxicity of nationalism would come in.

    Pretty sure that both Russians and Ukrainians claim it as their own; no idea what the Belarussian position is.
    Novgorod-Seversky is now in the Ukraine, about forty miles from Russia and maybe a hundred miles from Belarus; as for the Kayala (where most of the story is set), as far as I can tell, historians aren’t quite sure enough as to where it was to tell if it would have been in Ukraine or Russia, but it clearly wasn’t in Belarus.

    As for the title, for what it’s worth, my English edition (with the original side-by-side with English, and Russian separately at the end; don’t recall what language the footnotes are in) gives the title as The Lay of the Warfare Waged by Igor, which I always thought makes for a half-decent description but a terrible title.

  132. Bathrobe says:

    “Lay” would be better rendered as “song”. “Lay” is pretty archaic and I’m sure there are not a few trivial minds out there that would interpret it the same way I did.

  133. January First-of-May says:

    “Lay” would be better rendered as “song”. “Lay” is pretty archaic and I’m sure there are not a few trivial minds out there that would interpret it the same way I did.

    …Well, at least, to the best of my knowledge, no one is seriously trying to render it as Word of Igor’s Regiment (or similar).

    Fun fact: a collected-works volume of Lewis Carroll that I have lists one of said works as Лэ, исполненные скорби. It took me at least several weeks to figure out that Лэ had to be an attempt at transliterating Lay (specifically, Lays of Sorrow).

  134. SFReader says:

    which I always thought makes for a half-decent description but a terrible title.

    No worse than
    The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates

  135. History Twerp says:

    I think that J. W. Brewer’s comment pretty much covers me when he said that

    “I understand hat’s priorities when he says “I don’t care what’s taught in schools, I care how Greeks think,” but wasn’t the original premise here (perhaps a naive one?) that what Greeks think is causally affected by what Greek school curricula do and don’t teach about the history of the language and thus might change if the curricula changed?”

    But let’s go over this again. My comments were specifically aimed at the article’s two main points:
    a. supposed intensive denial of the theories of Indo-European linguistics within the language discourse *in Greece* (not Astoria, Melbourne or Toronto).
    b. The deficient incorporation of IE theory into the language instruction of (Ancient) Greek at primary and secondary education (again, of Greece).

    Regarding a., I pointed out that their claim of a denial “within the language discourse” is based on the examples of three far-right fringe theorists and not much else (e.g. actual survey data) and that it’s not a problem that’s seriously discussed in academia, the media or public education.

    Regarding b., the writers claim that this denial is because IE theory isn’t taught in schools (they then contradict themselves by admitting that IE etymology is included in more recent school grammar textbooks).
    Their central argument (which you repeat) is that nationalism is tied to ignorance of IE etymology, and placing Greek in the context of the wider IE language family will help ameliorate that. I pointed out that this argument is naive and wouldn’t necessarily do much to combat nationalism. It might even reframe local nationalism within a wider ideological frame of an Indo-Aryan European homeland that will have to be defended against non-Indo-European immigrants. The writers of the article admitted as much when they said that the far right party Golden Dawn actually embraced the IE theory because it fits well with their “Aryan” ideology.

    If you say that you can’t understand my arguments, or that you “don’t care what’s taught in schools”, you “care how Greeks think” then you didn’t bother to read my comments, the article or the abstract that you quoted in your blogpost, or you didn’t care to do so because your point was never discussing the article anyway.

    I assume that, since you have spent time in Athens and lived for years in Astoria (the Greek center of New York), you have a superior insight into the “language discourse” in Greece, Greek high school education and what constitutes the opinions of the average Greek high schooler – far superior to that of someone who went to school in a humanistic high school in Greece, was taught ancient Greek for six years, went to a Greek university and actually lives in Greece.

  136. Bathrobe says:

    @ History Twerp

    I am sure that your insights would have received a more friendly reception if they had not been expressed in such a belligerent manner. This appears to be an issue close to your heart.

    It would be interesting to hear your views on the state of Greek nationalist ideology today — academic and otherwise. I have often felt that some of the most deep-rooted nationalist beliefs in any society can persist despite enlightened educational policies. They seem to hang on in the background and resurface in bizarre ways in far-right theories, whether in Greece or the American alt-right. Do you have any light to shed on the Greek situation?

  137. I am sure that your insights would have received a more friendly reception if they had not been expressed in such a belligerent manner.

    Quite. I actually agree with most of what you say, and I’m still not sure why you’re so hostile.

  138. whether in Greece or the American alt-right

    And now in “ordinary working-class Australians” who nip across to New Zealand to commit mass-murders.

  139. Looked up Golden Dawn far-right party on WP.

    Was very excited for a moment to learn that their political platform used to include revival of ancient Greek Pagan religion and worship of 12 Olympians.

    But then the article went to say that they changed their mind and now they are just boring Greek Orthodox Christians.

    What a let down.

  140. I am in the process of looking for a publisher of my work, INDO-EUROPEAN AND ITS SPEAKERS, which derives European and many Mideastern words from archaic Greek. (No P.I.E. or Semitisms for me.) Entire chapters are devoted to the etymology of Anglo-Saxon, Basque, and Etruscan (thereby translated into English). The epicenter of “Greek” as a primordial human language was the Levant or area south of the Caucasus.

  141. Trond Engen says:

    Go on. There’s no limit to what you can achieve when you discard all evidence and a long history of scholarship in geography, linguistics and history.

  142. David Marjanović says:

    from archaic Greek. (No P.I.E. or Semitisms for me.)

    I’m afraid you’ve reinvented the square wheel.

  143. Stu Clayton says:

    Subtitle: It’s All Greek To Me

  144. I think we can all find comfort in the knowledge that every language is Gricean.

  145. Stu Clayton says:

    Despite DM’s animadversion as to originality, the author might want to enquire at the Annals of Improbable Research.

    After all,

    # A square wheel can roll smoothly if the ground consists of evenly shaped inverted catenaries of the right size and curvature.[1][2][3] #

  146. Amedeo Amendola says:

    I am not too sure as to whom I should respond. Anyway, I do not claim that all languages are based on Greek (or are “Graecian”). Up to now, Basque, Etruscan, and Eblaite (etc.) have been considered non-Indo-European by linguists who have never defined (non-geographically) what an Indo-European language is. My work is not speculative; empirically, etymogically, it derives many languages from ancient Greek. The Pokorny reconstructed roots of Indo-European suffer from his confusion of cognates and homophones. (The same is true for Semerano, who in four volumes, attempted to derive I.E. languages from Akkadian, which he erroneously considered a Semitic language. ) Sorry I can’t reproduce my work in this small space.

  147. Sorry I can’t reproduce my work in this small space.

    Please don’t try; nobody here will believe it anyway.

  148. David Eddyshaw says:

    Joseph Yahuda’s “Hebrew is Greek” is still available on Amazon at the low, low price of $895.

    I actually saw a physical copy of this in a real-life bookshop many years ago. The author means exactly what the title says: not “Hebrew is derived from Greek” or “Hebrew is related to Greek”, but “Hebrew is Greek.” You wonder why it took so long for people to notice …

    I’m still working on my own “Navajo is Polish.” Influential people don’t want the truth about these things to come out.

  149. Trond Engen says:

    Oh, so that’s why they sent you to West Africa and kept you busy inventing Kusaal.

  150. Stu Clayton says:

    Though it be said in charity
    “He did the best he could, and more”;
    There is too great disparity
    To what has gone before.
    The learnèd ones who hold the reins
    Are sitting tight on paradigm.
    Unless he’s got much better stuff
    His best is just not good enough.

  151. David Marjanović says:

    linguists who have never defined (non-geographically) what an Indo-European language is

    Well, the definition is “Proto-Indo-European and all its descendants”.

    The diagnosis, as biologists have begun to call such things, is of course trickier – but really not by much. A few basic words plus regular sound correspondences and a few regular and irregular patterns in the grammar ought to tell you pretty quickly whether a language is IE or not. That is why there is no language on which there’s any disagreement on whether it is IE, unless you count the least well attested parts of what’s called Pictish.

    Similarly, Akkadian is obviously Semitic. A short look at verb conjugation should make this obvious all on its own.

    The Pokorny reconstructed roots of Indo-European suffer from

    Oh, from lots of things. It’s outdated, plain and simple. Your starting point should be the LIV² with its Addenda & Corrigenda.

    Now, finally: do you know what a regular sound correspondence is…?

  152. Trond Engen says:

    My work is not speculative
    But pure epistemology.
    My evidence cumulative
    Will shatter etymology
    And Indo-Europeanism
    Until they see it through my prism
    And they will praise your servant meek
    In every modern form of Greek.

  153. >> The Pokorny reconstructed roots of Indo-European suffer from

    Oh, from lots of things. It’s outdated, plain and simple. Your starting point should be the LIV²

    (Trying to get something useful out of this distraction …)

    It wouldn’t be obvious from the title that ‘Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben’ is about IndoEuropean in general(?) Because ‘german’ just means closely-related, not necessarily European. Am I right in remembering that it was Pokorny’s wordlists (very out of date) of proto-Germanic that appeared in one of those SPP papers as ‘demonstrating’ (not) the parallels between early Sinitic and PGc? So was I/the SPP author terribly confused Pokorny’s lists are I-European? Not specifically Germanic/NW Europe branch?

    What’s the usual term German academics use for ‘Indo-European’? I mean, to include the Greek and Romance and Iranian branches as well as what we call “Germanic”. And what do German academics use for the specific Germanic branch?

    I see our friend’s speculation encompasses Basque. I do hope the work has closely studied Edo Nyland’s seminal analysis.

  154. J.W. Brewer says:

    As a partial answer to AntC’s question, let me point out that the German wikipedia article linked from the English article “Indo-European languages” is https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indogermanische_Sprachen.

  155. Indogermanische covers the language family stretching from Indic to Germanic. Indo-European covers the language family stretching from India to Europe. Same thing.

    (Plus Tocharian.)

  156. Assam-Icelandic would work, too.

  157. stretching from Indic to Germanic. Indo-European covers the language family stretching from India to Europe. Same thing.

    No those don’t seem the same thing to me. (Of course the words mean what they’re used to mean, not what my logic/misapprehension expects. And the important thing is what Pokorny et al means.)

    Given that the Germanic family branched off quite early in the history, an arc ‘Indic to Germanic’ would not include Southern European branches. Whereas ‘India to Europe’ does.

    Does LIV2 have separate lists for (what English speakers call) Proto-Germanic vs (older) Proto-Indo-European? How about the 1956 edition of Pokorny?

  158. If you had to represent the family by its two farthest extremes, those would be Assamese (Indic) and Icelandic (Germanic).

    Of course the language family is not spread along a line and reaches off to the sides, toward Hittite and Greek and Latvian.

  159. SFReader says:

    Technically speaking, the farthest extremes would be English and Russian.

  160. Stu Clayton says:

    Because ‘german’ just means closely-related, not necessarily European. 
     … the German wikipedia article linked from the English article “Indo-European languages” …

    Having perused the earnest exposition there and at the many links, I’m now not even sure what “Germanic” and “European” might mean. Words like “Aryan”, “Anatolian” abound. The cumulative terminology of centuries is unmistakeably conducive to crackpottery.

    I conclude that Wikipedia is not the go-to starter reference for linguistic matters.

  161. Technically speaking, the farthest extremes would be English and Russian.

    Or Spanish and Afrikaans.

  162. I conclude that Wikipedia is not the go-to starter reference for linguistic matters.

    Indeed: if you really want to find out, ask at LanguageHat.

    The article in German at least offers an alternative indoeuropäischen Sprachen.

    To answer one of my questions what do German academics use for the specific Germanic branch? from de.wikipedia, that would appear to be ‘Germanische Sprachen’. I see plentiful opportunity for confusion: are the Germanic family languages any more closely-related than within the Romance languages, or within any arbitrary language family?

  163. Technically speaking, the farthest extremes would be English and Russian.

    Not at all, they meet up on the other end. You may recall that some speakers of American English can see Russian speakers from their house.

  164. @AntC:
    1) Indogermanisch is what is used traditionally for “Indo-European” among German-speaking scholars. Indoeuropäisch is also used. There exists no difference in scope or meaning between these terms. As was said before, the idea was that the term repesented the most extreme (NW vs. SE) branches of the family, whatever shortcomings that has. (The usual objection against Indoeuropäisch is that there are European languages that are not Indo-European. Of course, there are also languages in India that are non-I-E. I think the entire discussion is fruitless.)
    2) I see plentiful opportunity for confusion: are the Germanic family languages any more closely-related than within the Romance languages, or within any arbitrary language family?
    I don’t really understand what you’re asking here, but the Germanic languages certainly are more closely related to each other than to any other I-E languages, and that’s true of each other branch of IE. Romance is not a direct branching of IE, but consists of the descendants of one I-E language, Latin, which belongs to the Italic branch.

    @Stu: For some time (19th / early 20th century), “Aryan” was used as a synonym for Indo-European. Due to the ideological tainting of that term by the Nazis and similar folks, I-E scholars don’t use it that way any more. Nowadays, it’s use is mostly limited to being a part of the compound “Indo-Aryan” (the Indo-European languages of India, a sub-branch of Indo-Iranian), and historically for the speakers of Old Indo-Aryan, who brought the language to India.

  165. Stu Clayton says:

    @Hans: thanks for the clarification about I-E.

    As for India, where does “Sanskrit” fit in ? I thought that was the mother of all I-E ?? I reach into my cookie jar of hearsay knowledge and find only dry crumbs.

    I won’t ask any more questions, clearly the dew is off the grapes.

  166. Dept. of useless information: for IE-majority antipodes, you have your choice of New Zealand and Spain, or of southern Patagonia and the Baikal region.

  167. Lars (the original one) says:

    @Stu, Sanskrit is of a kind with Classical Latin: It was already archaizing when it was used to write the classical literature, but it also had some specific developments relative to an older stage of Indo-Aryan and even the modern Indo-Aryan languages do not share all of them — just like Romance languages have to be derived from Old and Vulgar Latin contemporary with Classical, rather than the patrician sociolect of Cicero.

    The idea that IE was basically Sanskrit with Greek vowels may have looked sensible 200 years ago, but it died from a surfeit of data soon after.

  168. January First-of-May says:

    The idea that IE was basically Sanskrit with Greek vowels may have looked sensible 200 years ago, but it died from a surfeit of data soon after.

    More like 150 years ago, I would suspect?

    Still better than Schleicher’s original, which had it basically be Sanskrit with Sanskrit vowels, and thus almost indistinguishable from Sanskrit proper.

    (If I saw the text of Avis akvāsas ka without knowing what it was, I would probably have assumed it was in Sanskrit.)

  169. Stu Clayton says:

    The idea that IE was basically Sanskrit with Greek vowels may have looked sensible 200 years ago, but it died from a surfeit of data soon after.

    Nobody outside the marbled halls of academe knows this, that’s where I am and nobody knows it. You guys have got some missioning (missionaryizing ?) to do. Spread the शब्द !

  170. David Marjanović says:

    Trond wins this thread.

    What’s the usual term German academics use for ‘Indo-European’?

    Indogermanisch, mostly. Indoeuropäisch is rare.

    Does LIV2 have separate lists for (what English speakers call) Proto-Germanic vs (older) Proto-Indo-European? How about the 1956 edition of Pokorny?

    I don’t think either of them contain Proto-Germanic reconstructions at all. That’s not their point; their point is PIE (Urindogermanisch), not PGmc. (Urgermanisch).

    There are separate etymological dictionaries for PGmc., the most recent one by Guus Kroonen (2013).

    are the Germanic family languages any more closely-related than within the Romance languages, or within any arbitrary language family?

    All Germanic languages are descended from a single Proto-Germanic language, which, actually, must have been spoken around the same time as the particular kind of Vulgar Latin that is Proto-Romance, within 200 years of each other anyway.

    For some time (19th / early 20th century), “Aryan” was used as a synonym for Indo-European.

    The reason for that was: 1) ārya was the self-designation of the speakers of Vedic Sanskrit and of (Old?) Avestan; and there are Roman-age Celtic names that start with Ario-. So people figured it was what the speakers of PIE, die Indogermanen, called themselves. More recently, these Celtic names are interpreted as starting with *pr-, “first & foremost”, by the regular Celtic loss of *p and the regular Celtic treatment of syllabic *r. That restricts ārya to Indo-Iranian. Most likely it was what the speakers of Proto-Indo-Iranian called themselves, but there’s currently no evidence it goes farther back than that.

    So “Aryan” could be used for Indo-Iranian, but that hardly ever happens, firstly to avoid confusion with the older usage, secondly because the Nazis have thoroughly skunked it. You can still find “Indo-Aryan” today, apparently as a way to distinguish that branch from the non-IE languages of India, but even that has mostly been replaced by “Indic”.

    Also, the Nazis tried to exclude “the Slavs” from being “Aryans”. The Slavic languages are quite obviously IE, as the first generation after Jones noticed.

    where does “Sanskrit” fit in ? I thought that was the mother of all I-E ??

    Only Schlegel ever actually believed that […edit: outside of Hindutva, see below]. Even Sir William Jones didn’t; he believed instead that Sanskrit, Greek and Latin had “sprung from some common source which perhaps no longer exists”.

    The Vedas are quite old, and they’re long enough to illustrate a lot of vocabulary and grammar, so they have always been overrepresented in shaping the general perception of what PIE was like. There’s been a very long, slow trend away from this since Schleicher, who, in the 1870s, thought that PIE was basically a kentum version of Vedic Sanskrit as mentioned above.

    Sanskrit is of a kind with Classical Latin: It was already archaizing when it was used to write the classical literature

    Well, Classical Sanskrit (with a more regular grammar, predictable stress, and not quite as many verb forms) was used after Sanskrit had ceased to be spoken. Vedic Sanskrit (more wildly irregular, with more verb forms, and with unpredictable stress placement which correlates to such things as Verner’s law elsewhere in IE) was the poetic register of an actually spoken language, which is why you can watch it change from the oldest to the youngest songs within the Rgveda, and from the Rgveda to the Atharvaveda and then to the Yajurveda and so on.

    Even Vedic Sanskrit was not Proto-Indo-Aryan, BTW. It has merged a few things that remain separate in the Prakrits (which are contemporary with much of Classical Sanskrit) and the modern languages.

    Nobody outside the marbled halls of academe knows this

    Have that many people outside India ever heard about Sanskrit at all? You are the first time I encounter the idea that Sanskrit was PIE outside of Schlegel and the Hindutva people (e.g. Vedic creationists).

  171. David Eddyshaw says:

    You are the first time I encounter the idea that Sanskrit was PIE outside of Schlegel and the Hindutva people

    I think this idea is actually fairly widespread, in the sense that the relatively large cohort of people who have heard of Sanskrit but not of historical linguistics are quite often under the misapprehension that Sanskrit is the mother of most European languages as well as most Indian; I saw it in the wild not long ago in the Guardian. This may be simple failure to keep up with the scientific times (most journalists are still in the phlogiston era), but I suspect that (alas) the Hindutva nutters are actually a good more in the public eye than historical linguists – there are a lot more of them, and they have better PR skills.

  172. Lars (the original one) says:

    Linkless version — the linkful one may be in moderation, if so Hat can remove this one when he rescues the other one.

    The further charge that Bopp, in his Comparative Grammar, gave undue prominence to Sanskrit may be disproved by his own words; for, as early as the year 1820, he gave it as his opinion that frequently the cognate languages serve to elucidate grammatical forms lost in Sanskrit (Annals of Or. Lit. i. 3), — an opinion which he further developed in all his subsequent writings.

    — Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), “Bopp, Franz”, Encyclopædia Britannica, 4 (11th ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 240–241

    So 199 years ago at least there was awareness that Sanskrit wasn’t the proto-form of IE. (pace DM on Sir William Jones, I’m not sure what way scholarly opinion swung between him and Bopp).

    So was Schleicher 50 years out of date when he wrote his fable in 1868 with forms like varna for wool? (Never mind the vowels). It must have taken great powers of concentration to remain in ignorance of the fact that all the other branches show -l- where Indo-Aryan (IIr?) has -r-. Or maybe it was meant as a less literal representation of the Ur-language than we now think.

    @Stu, it is a strange thing how outdated knowledge survives like that. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, for instance, has five pages on IE that detail (i.a.) how Indo-Aryan is only a branch of IE, mentioning Sanskrit only in passing, and I’m sure that any reference work published in the last 100 years would say much the same. Including, I’m pretty sure, the popular books on language that I used to borrow from the public library 45 years ago.

  173. Stu Clayton says:

    My digital OED, about 15 years old, says under “Sanskrit”

    #
    A.A n. The ancient and sacred language of India, the oldest known member of the Indo-European family, in which the extensive Hindu literature from the Vedas downward is composed. In a narrower sense, the ‘classical Sanskrit’ (opposed to the ‘Epic’ and ‘Vedic’), the grammar of which was fixed by Pāṇini (? 4th c. b.c.).
    #

    What is a normal ignorant person to make of that, if not that Sanskrit is the origin of the I-E family ? If there were some other, older language, a common substrate, Sanskrit wouldn’t be the oldest known member, now would it ? Or that substrate is not being counted as I-E, for some reason. Sanskrit is at least being presented here as a branching point at which it arose as an I-E language, and all other I-E languages as well.

    This is expository horseshit at its steamiest, if I can rely on you guys as Hercules proxies.

  174. SFReader says:

    Russian is the easternmost IE language (as spoken in Chukotka) and English is the westernmost (in Alaska).

    They are separated by the International Date Line and the Bering Strait.

    Not at all, they meet up on the other end. You may recall that some speakers of American English can see Russian speakers from their house.

    Well, the Earth is round and that’s why the person in front of you is the farthest behind you.

  175. Lars (the original one) says:

    the oldest known member of the Indo-European family — well, the ancestral stages are reconstructions and not directly known, and older stages of other branches are not as well known — still, I agree that this is strongly misleading and they should have their knuckles rapped, even if it’s a dictionary and they don’t have 5 pages to explain things. (So my “reference work” phrasing was a bit optimistic, sorry, I still hope encyclopedias and books specifically about language get it right).

    Vedic Sanskrit may be the oldest form of any IE language that is well attested, but only by a few hundred years if we go by date of composition, depending on your beliefs about the Iliad; I think we have full Hittite texts that were written down much earlier than the Ṛgveda, and there are things like probable IE loans into Sumerian that must be dated even earlier.

  176. Stu Clayton says:

    I think Steve knows a set of knuckles at the OED or in its environs.

  177. No, I’m afraid I have no OED contacts. I used to be able to send them e-mail, but they stopped that service.

  178. But that entry hasn’t been updated since 1909, so that’s basically a 19th-century formulation; I think I can guarantee that when they get around to updating it it will read much more sensibly.

  179. Stu Clayton says:

    Have that many people outside India ever heard about Sanskrit at all?

    Of course hippies were before your time.

  180. OM

  181. Most certainly I knew from the childhood years that Sanskrit was the root of IE languages. Not necessarily that it was PIE, but whatever I heard made me imagine that IE languages radiated from India by a mechanism unknown. Take is as a sampler of what a non linguist might have imagined not too long ago

  182. the oldest known member of the Indo-European family

    It’s that sort of misperception which continues today, when people ask “what is the oldest language” or get into “my language is older than yous” arguments. Sometimes ignorant science columnists reflect this kind of view, and then cranky commenters to language blogs bitch about it.

  183. David Marjanović says:

    Must be due to Hindutva nutters publishing in English, then.

    I didn’t know most hippies had heard of Sanskrit beyond om, namaste and hare Krishna, hare Rama

    some speakers of American English can see Russian speakers from their house

    Sarah Palin didn’t actually say that; she only said “you can see Russia from there” (Alaska, not her house). It was Tina Fey in very convincing character as Failin’ who said “I can see Russia from my house!”.

    So was Schleicher 50 years out of date when he wrote his fable in 1868 with forms like varna for wool? (Never mind the vowels). It must have taken great powers of concentration to remain in ignorance of the fact that all the other branches show -l- where Indo-Aryan (IIr?) has -r-. Or maybe it was meant as a less literal representation of the Ur-language than we now think.

    Alas, no.

    The WP article on Verner’s law has a link to Verner’s actual paper from 1875. I read it once. In it, Verner – a revolutionary Young Grammarian, as in “Young Turks” – treats the idea that sound changes don’t have lots of sporadic exceptions as very recent, and still takes for granted that IE has a “European” branch, of which one of the diagnostic innovations is the split of *a into *e, *a and *o for reasons that remain as yet unknown. Before that paper, it was widely taken for granted that Grimm’s law, aka Rask’s rule, was just the majority, default development, and the forms Verner used as evidence for his law were just a big heap of sporadic exceptions. (And the Uralists retained this mindset right up until 1981, after their Pokorny-equivalent dictionary came out in 1980.) So, Schleicher probably thought that *r sometimes drifted into the open space for *l, sometimes not.

    The other thing going on here is that Sanskrit (unlike Avestan or Old Persian) has a /l/. It occurs not only in substrate words, but also in words of IE origin; and its distribution there appears to be chaotic. I’ve encountered the idea that there was at some earlier point a western dialect with only [r], an eastern dialect with only [l], and the chaotic situation found in the Vedas and later is due to dialect mixture, i.e. the western dialect sometimes borrowing from the eastern one (presumably after substrate words established /l/ as a phoneme).

    What is a normal ignorant person to make of that, if not that Sanskrit is the origin of the I-E family ? If there were some other, older language, a common substrate, Sanskrit wouldn’t be the oldest known member, now would it ?

    It was, in 1909, the oldest attested member, “known member” as it says, as opposed to the oldest reconstructed (inferred, hypothesized) member. To me that seems like the only natural reading.

    A substrate is something quite different in historical linguistics: English has a British Celtic substrate and a French superstrate (or two).

    I think we have full Hittite texts that were written down much earlier than the Ṛgveda

    Yes, by some 500 years probably.

    I’m not sure what way scholarly opinion swung between him and Bopp

    There wasn’t much scholarship or time between Jones and Bopp.

  184. Dmitry Pruss says:

    Hindutva nutters publishing in English

    I suspect that it was Nicholas Roerich in Russian, and probably Mme Blavatsky before him… But the imagined sheer antiquity of India seemed unquestionable even to the Alexander’s Greeks? The Hundutva thesis of uncounted millennia of Vedic history must have been really easy for the outsiders to accept…

  185. Stu Clayton says:

    It was, in 1909, the oldest attested member, “known member” as it says, as opposed to the oldest reconstructed (inferred, hypothesized) member. To me that seems like the only natural reading.

    I’m not surprised it seems that way to you. It was apparently written to be understood by people who already understand what is meant – like Literary Sinitic, as Moser remarks. That’s why it could do with a rewrite.

    Here we have the Mr. Natural mindset, with all the requisite self-deprecating hangers-on: “to me”, “seems like”, “the only natural”. Apart from imparting personal information, it says nothing about the intelligibility of the dictionary definition to other people. The appeal to Mr. Natural is like the appeal to Reality – it is an attempt to cut off further discussion by invoking A Thing That’s Bigger Than Both Of Us. Nothing wrong with that, of course. It’s a free country, there’s a sucker born every minute, and somehow progress must be made.

  186. You seem to be privileging proud ignorance over humble knowledge.

  187. Stu Clayton says:

    In talking with developers, especially over the last 13 years of doing code reviews (in addition to programming myself), I have learned that there is no “natural way to understand this”, for any value of “this” in the context of specific code. I don’t hold up my own current way of understanding something as a shining example of how the other guy should think of it, instead of the screwy way he does (which I don’t say, of course). That just doesn’t work. Maybe it should work, but it don’t.

    Instead, as we talk, I try to figure out what the background is to that screwy understanding, and use these clues to think up examples that show how a different viewpoint recommends itself. This can take a lot of time, and certainly a great deal of imaginative cunning on my part. But it usually pays off. Sometimes I conclude that my own current understanding is not the bee’s knees.

  188. Stu Clayton says:

    You seem to be privileging proud ignorance over humble knowledge.

    Now that’s cute, I thought we were dealing with humble ignorance here, and there proud knowledge mine de rien. Just goes to show.

  189. Trond Engen says:

    David M.: Trond wins this thread.

    I just tried to follow up on Stu’s. I wish I’d written “semitology” instead of “etymology”, though. I was at two minds and think I made the wrong choice.

    I’ve met the “Basically everything comes from Sanskrit” misapprehension often enough, but outside of rigorous Vedicism it’s rarely a deeply held belief, and it doesn’t take much effort to correct it — if I care to.

  190. Stu Clayton says:

    I have already torn up my Vedic party book.

  191. Trond Engen says:

    Good. I’ve tried the Yajurvedic children’s birthday, and it was no fun after the first couple of gāna, when it turned into a fight over Ranayaniya versus Jaiminiya.

  192. Do people make Darth Veda jokes? They must.

  193. Trond Engen says:

    Reciting the Lukayamjapāda.

  194. SFReader says:

    English is just a broken Sanskrit

  195. Yvy tyvy says:

    Lúkr mælti, Anakinsson: “Þat sǫgðu mér Víga-Óbívan, gamall ok fróðr, er áðr var, at Anakinn héti minn faðir; ek heiti Lúkr. Fornt hann austr óð.”

    Veiðr mælti: “Víga-Óbívan segði aldrigi þér þat, er orðit er af feðr þínum.”

    “Hann sagði mér ǿrit,” segir Lúkr, “Hann sagði mér, at hann væri æ fólks at oddi, honum væri æ víg ljúft, kenndr væri hann djǫrfum mǫnnum; ok hann sagði mér, at þú hann dræpir.”

    “Eigi er þat satt,” kvað Veiðr, “Ok em ek faðir þinn.”

    […]

    “Eigi skal þér trúa, ómáttuliga spaki norðmaðr,” mælti Lúkr, “Ef faðir minn þú sér, þó munt þú drepa vilja Hana, mág minn, ok er þat skǫmm, ef ek sit hjá.”

    Lúkr Anakinsson spoke: “I was told by Víga-Óbívan, an old man and wise, who once lived, that my father was named Anakinn; I am named Lúkr. My father went east long ago.”

    Veiðr said: “Víga-Óbívan will not have told you the truth about what happened to your father.”

    “He told me enough,” said Lúkr, “He told me, that my father was always at the forefront of any army, that he was a man who cherished war, that he was well-known to other brave men. And he told me that you killed him.”

    “That is not true,” said Veidr, “For I am your father.”

    […]

    “You are not to be believed, you crafty Norwegian,” said Lúkr, “Even if you are my father, you will still want to kill Hani, who is my sworn brother, and it would be shameful if I sat by.”

    Tattúínárdǿla saga, Jackson Crawford

  196. Stu Clayton says:

    Sez GT:

    # “It is not true,” said Veiðr, “Okay I am your father.” #

    I surmise that “ok” is closer to the German “auch” than to “okay”. But it’s still Darth Veiðr !

  197. A challenge to all believers in Proto-Indo-European: Use your lexicon of I.E. roots and make a meaningful translation of either the Lemnos Stele/Stela or the two Etruscan Pyrgi tablets. If you cannot, who or what is to blame?

  198. Truly, you are wasting your time and energy here. You should expend it at venues where people know nothing about the topic.

  199. PlasticPaddy says:

    Wait, why not let him give the Greek readings which he obviously has produced with much innovative labour and is now holding up his sleeve?

  200. Stu Clayton says:

    Has this “Philotheos” passed the Turing test ?

  201. David Marjanović says:

    A challenge to all believers in Proto-Indo-European: Use your lexicon of I.E. roots and make a meaningful translation of either the Lemnos Stele/Stela or the two Etruscan Pyrgi tablets. If you cannot, who or what is to blame?

    Easy: the fact that the Tyrsenian languages are not Indo-European. They may be fairly closely related to IE, actually, but they’re not inside – they’re not descended from PIE. You might as well try to understand Greek from a lexicon of Proto-Germanic – it’ll work better than trying to understand Hungarian, but not a lot.

    Here is how an expert on both IE and Etruscan has translated the Lemnos Stele, with complete explanations of how & why: first part, second part, both in German with English abstracts at the beginnings and Russian abstracts at the ends.

  202. David Marjanović says:

    So “Aryan” could be used for Indo-Iranian, but that hardly ever happens

    Here is a dissertation that calls Proto-Indo-Iranian urarisch. It may be relevant that the author did not grow up in a German-speaking country…

  203. Stu Clayton says:

    Close as can be to urarsch.

  204. A final word before saying Farewell.
    According to a tradition (which you know very well), Etruscan, Lemnian, Basque, and some other lanuages, are language isolates. The reason for this doctrine cannot be that they cannot be derived from Proto-Indo-European, because NOTHING can be derived from a language that never existed: ex nihilo nihil fit. As you know, P.I.E. is a mental construction made on the basis of some historical (existing) languages. It’s like considering terriers, bulldogs, hounds, etc., and abstracting “DOG” as that from which they sprang. The uncritisized Plato would say: “Dog” is an eidos, eternally and immutably existing, in which all existing dogs participate, or that which is the cause of the nature of many things (the existing dogs). As you know, Aristotle rejected the doctrine of participation, since he empirically found that the “dog-nature” of many things, is transmitted through physical reproduction. To posit an eternal DOG is to multiply realities unnecessarily.
    Live and learn, tells us Aristotle.

  205. PlasticPaddy says:

    I do not know if Plato considered dog mess, so I do not claim originality in postulating an eidos DOG MESS in whose nature many claims by both learned and unlearned authors participate. I agree it is not a necessary entity, but posterity may consider it a useful one.

  206. Lars (the original one) says:

    Our learned friend Phi(l)otheos has a point. We already know that all languages stem from Phrygian, and Swedish, and Belgian. Why multiply realities any further to add Greek?

  207. John Cowan says:

    In this case I believe the eidos is DOG’S BREAKFAST. But what’s ironic here is that both dogs and languages descend from unitary proto-{dogs,languages}. The Platonism that Amedeo accuses historical linguists of is actually not what they hold at all.

    In the case of dogs, there is evidence from ancient DNA that the dog-wolf ancestor (which I suppose I must call a wolf though it was not quite Canis lupus) was domesticated twice, but apparently all dogs from the old European line have died out, leaving only Asia-domesticated dogs today. At least that is the best sense I can make out of contradictory articles.

    Cattle, on the other hand, were domesticated from the aurochs at least twice: the ancestors of the usual sort and the zebus (humped South Asian cattle) came from different branches. They can interbreed, and there is the usual kerfuffle about whether they are separate species from each other and the aurochs itself, or not.

  208. Stu Clayton says:

    You mean our learned friend has set up a straw dog to knock down ? That’s not very Platonic. As regards the dog’s breakfast, he seems to be saying: cur quis non prandeat hoc est?

  209. there is no language on which there’s any disagreement on whether it is IE

    We could count the fringe proposal that Hurro-Urartian is closely para-IE (in the same sense as Anatolian, not in a clean binary split sense); it has yet to be criticized as much as the handful of similar proposals about Basque and Etruscan.

    the Uralists retained this mindset right up until 1981, after their Pokorny-equivalent dictionary came out in 1980

    My understanding is that the content principles of Uralisches etymologisches Wörterbuch had been mostly nailed down already in the late 60s, with the following two decades (first sections were released in 1986) mostly spent on tasks like formatting, copyediting and bibliography assembly.

    There were a few good orthodox Neogrammarian sub-branch reconstructions in the early 1890s though; but after this, poor understanding of morphophonological alternation largely derailed Uralic historical phonology for the next 40 years.

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