The History of Indo-European Languages Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in The History of Indo-European Languages Deck (28):

non indo-european languages in Europe

- Hugarian
- Finnish
- Estonian
- Karelian (Finno-Ugric family)
- Basque in Spain


Sir William Jones

- was the first one to discover that there are languages that belong in the same family
- used Sanskirt to compare languages


August Shcleicher

- pioneered the idea that languages could be arranged in evolutionary/genealogical trees of Proto-Indo-European (PIE)


Rasmus Rask, Franz Bopp, Jacob Grimm

- assess the degree of relatedness using the comparative method
- they looked for the 'same' words across several languages seeking systemic patterns of change
- borrowed words were excluded


Genetic relationship of Indo-European Languages

- in order to establish genetic relationship between languages it's important to know:
the words compared should be a part of the language native lexicon
words belonging to the same family should obey the rules of (Regular) phonological changes (Grimm's Law)
grammatical endings should be similar in the languages belonging to the same family


The Indo-European Family: Germanic branch

- East = Gothic
- North = Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Faroese
- West = English, German, Dutch, Frisian, Afrikaans, Yiddish


when did Proto-Indo-European split?

- the oldest text are:
Iranian (1000 BC),
Sanskirt (1200 BC),
Hittite (1650-1200 BC) (different than the other two could have split earlier)
- glottochronology
- linguistic paleontology



- the idea that there is a steady rate at which languages change and the words are replaced or some of them become obsolete
- languages change 20% of their vocabulary every 1000 years
- places the split of PIE at 3000 BC and no earlier than 5000 BC


linguistic paleontology

- the idea that if PIE has a word for a technology or invention then we can date PIE by discovering when the technology was created
- sheep and goats ( domesticated 8000 BC)
- cattle ( domesticated 6400 BC)
- horses ( domesticated 4000 BC)
- plows (4000 BC)
- wheel (3300 BC)
- does not have a word for battle chariots (2000 BC) or iron (1200 BC)
- PIE split about 3000 BC


where did the proto-indo-european speakers originate?

- two hypotheses
- russian steppe hypothesis
- development of farming (from turkey)


russian steppe hypothesis

- successive waves of migration southeast to India and Iran, southwest to Greece and Italy and west across Europe as far as Ireland


evidence for Russian steppes as homeland

1. the indo-european language family appears to be related to the Finno-Ugric languages
- originate in the Russian steppes north of the Baltic Sea
2. languages far from homeland would have many borrowings from the indigenous languages
- many borrowings indicate they are far from the homeland
- Lithuanian is the most conservative and has few borrowings, originally spoken on the Russian steppes
3. evidence from linguistic paleontology shows that the original Indo-European speakers lived in a cold climate
- had a word for snow


major economic revolutions in and around the mediterranean basin

- farming
- domestication of animals


significance of farming

- PIE people were farmers who spread out
- Renfrew proposes that the spread of Indo-European is linked to the development of farming
- farming begins in Turkey about 8000 BC
- due to farming spreading, average of spreading of about a kilometer per year
- claims that this accords with the archaeological evidence
- since the new people know how to farm they have the advantage and their language will replace others
CONCLUSION: Indo-European began as one of the languages of the farming communities of Turkey (linguistic replacement)


how does farming spread?

- framing allows/requires a 50 fold increase in population over hunter-gatherer societies


how does a farmer distribute land among the children?

- give the farm to one child and kick the rest out
- the others must move to find their own farm


Diamond's counter argument for the origin of Indo-European speakers

- PIE only has one word for grain (means that they were not farmers)
- PIE has words for wheel, plow, wool, horse, etc. objects which the first farmers did not possess


domestication of animals

- PIE is rich in words for domesticated animals and animal products and implements which harness animal power
- the people of the steppes domesticated horses (first evidence is 4000 BC)
- the steppes of Russia was mostly grassland -> good for herdsman but did not support much farming


Diamond: Kurgan invasion

- horse mounted warriors overpower docile farming communities
- wipe out the indigenous languages and replace them with PIE


counter arguments against Kurgan invasion

- there is no evidence that horseman migrated farther than Hungary -> Diamond argues that as they migrated further the steppe culture was abandoned in favour of farming and other cultures. Further argues that the Indo-European people were a warrior tribe who after domesticating horses conquered Europe, Iran and most India
- words change their meaning over time, explained by words for other animals changing meaning


The genetics of Modern Indo-European and First PIE Speakers

- the debate between the two hypotheses was not resolved by studies tracing the genetics of modern Europeans
- the population from Anatolia and from the Russian steppe have contributed significantly to the modern gene pool


the links among different language families

- this superlanguage family is called Nostratic family
- it has never been proven that there is a single language (proto-world language) underlying all human languages


models of language change

- initial colonization
- linguistic convergence
- linguistic divergence
- linguistic replacement


initial colonization

- people move into an area where there are no other people
- not a likely explanation for Indo-European, know people were living there before them


linguistic convergence

- languages are growing to resemble one another
- ex. Latin show that languages diverge, not converge


linguistic divergence

- language evolves over time in different areas into a set of other languages because of separation or isolation
- took place later on


linguistic replacement

- the indigenous languages are replaced by that of newcomers
- a group with superior military technology overruns another
- likely explanation of the spread of Indo-European


# of languages

Indo European = 439
main indo-european languages = 140-150