How
Old
is
the
Indo‑European
Language
Family?
Illumination
or
More
Moths
to
the
Flame?

How
Old
is
the
Indo‑European
Language
Family?
Illumination
or
More
Moths
to
the
Flame?

HTML link,but the pdf can be found six down on Google

 

ie-lang

 

The paper that claims to back up Renfrew’s Anatolian hypothesis. At least now I have a term what what I’ve been using as a dating method… linguistic
palaeontology. While I’d agree with this as a problem if just one or two reconstructed words were present that foxed up the date, PIE is just rife with them. their argument about the word wheel, seen here;

First,
independent
semantic
innovations
from
a
common
root
are
a
likely
mechanism
by
which
we
can
account
for
the
supposed
Proto‑Indo‑European
reconstructions
associated
with
wheeled
transport
(Trask
1996;
Watkins
1969).
Linguists
can
reconstruct
word
forms
with
much
greater
certainty
than
their
meanings.
For
example,
upon
the
development
of
wheeled
transport,
words
derived
from
the
Proto‑Indo‑European
term
*kwel‑
(meaning
‘to
turn,
rotate’)
may
have
been
independently
co‑opted
to
describe
the
wheel.

I’m not sure how that would apply to all the other words relating to wheel, like axle, and the plethora of metallurgical terms.  Or the terms that describe the flora and fauna (not something that would expand to create a false proto word) However, it’s not entirely impossible some aspects of it are correct;

Using
 the
Swadesh
 200‑word
 list,
he
calculated
that
the
core
Indo‑European
languages
(Greek,
Italic,
Balto‑Slavic,
Germanic
 and
 Indo‑
Iranian)
 diverged
 around
5500
 r5
 whilst
 Hittite
 diverged
from
the
common
stock
around
8400


Indo‑European
languages

(Greek,
Italic,
Balto‑Slavic,

Iranian)
 diverged
 around

5500
 r5
 whilst
 Hi<ite
 di‑
verged
f

he
calculated
that
the
core


rom
the
common


stock
around
8400
r5

Which suggests what I refer to as PIE is from a later node to Hittite. Think of it as members on the same family tree but their MRCA is from different generations. As with so many things, the PIE classification is a POV issue here.

After having done a little reading; Transcaucasian pottery does seem to expand about the date the Kura Araxes culture does, which does show a cultural expansion from steppes area about the time of 5,000 BP.

2 responses to “How
Old
is
the
Indo‑European
Language
Family?
Illumination
or
More
Moths
to
the
Flame?

  1. Well, interesting paper, especially because it seems to be one of the best defenses of the Renfrew hypothesis I’ve ever read. But…

    1. We have the problem that we know that Hittite is exogenous to Anatolia and that it estibilished there over older language layers like Hattic (arguably elated to NW Caucasian). Even if Hittite is a very old branch within IE it doesn’t seem native to Anatolia, what basically denies the “agricultural model” altogether.

    2. Glottochronology is not rocket science.

    For instance you can easily spot huge error margins in the Romance branch in fig. 8.8. Portuguese and Spanish would seem to have branched out c. 400 years ago, when documentary data suggests that the difference is maybe 2.5 times that old and was in any case consolidated before 1492.

    Equally the divrgence between French and Iberian languages would be of Charlemagne’s time, what we know is totally wrong. The divergence was evolving since at least the fall of the Western Roman Empire, if not before. Maybe influences of Occitan or French itself may obscure this but again we are suffering from the inability to pick appart genealogic divergence from sprachbund convergence.

    Also, on another totally different estimate, it is absolutely impossible that Tocharian is some 8000 years old. Tocharians probably only arrived to their historical homeland about half that time ago.

    The alleged structure of the Germanic trees is not any better: while any serious linguist will agree that Frisian is the closest thing to English, in this tree it appears as a minor branch of Dutch, which in fact is closer to German.

    In brief: while informative of the cognates’ structure maybe, the whole interpretation can only be taken with a whole tablespoon of salt, IMO. IE is the best studied linguistic family and comparitive method studies are not lacking, hence I see little need to resort to mass lexical comparison, which may be useful to build up drafts (and only that) for other researchs but adds little or nothing to IE linguistic science.

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