Edwin F Bryant
efb3 at columbia.edu
Sun Dec 15 01:21:31 UTC 1996
> >On Thu, 12 Dec 1996, Lars Martin Fosse wrote:
> If you exclude the "invasion" theory, it is a matter of pure logic that all
> Indo-Europeans originally came from India, since the Aryans are Indo-European.
Yes, unless, like one Indigenous Aryanist, you tried to argue for a much
larger initial homeland stretching from the NW frontier up to the Caspian
that had always consisted of dialectically variegated PIE (as opposed to
some artifical monolithic and uniform tongue). Mallory actually proposes
quite a large area. The problem with this, even though it is a nice
compromise, is that such a large area would have difficulties accounting
for the morphological, and other uniformity amongst such dialects.
> I would very much like to see the arguments. If you read what J. P. Mallory
> has to say on the subject ("In Search of the Indo-Europeans"), you will see
> that *a lot* of reconfiguring will have to be done.
I would be happy to get your feedback on some of this material.
I've been very surprised as to how some of these arguments, especially
those utilising linguistic palaeontology, can reinterpret the same data.
This suggests to me, that this method is inadequate. Consider how
Gamkrelidze and Ivanov can argue against the habitat of a colder NOrthern
Steppe homeland, for a warmer more Souther one. Or how Renfrew can
contest the model of a fierce nomadic proto-IE'an to propose a gentle
agriculturalist. Naturally, Mallory's book has not taken into
consideration the Indian points of view, because these have only recently
become prevalent--but he is very aware of the limitations of ling.
palaeontology. Anyway, even accepting this method, most Indig. Aryanists
feel that they can give as good as they get: if, for example,
Salmon and Beech can be touted as evidence of a European or Steppe
homeland (of course, few scholars will accept such things as evidence
anymore), monkeys and elephants (both with proto-IE pedigree according to
G & I) can be utilised just as reasonably to support an Indian urheimat.
> The second point of interest here is that Vedic is very closely related to
> Avestan and Old Persian, to the extent that semi-communication would seem to
> be possible between Vedic and Avestan. This means that the time of
> proto-Indo-Iranian would lie only a few centuries back in time, Mallory
> assumes some 8 centuries.
However, the date of the Avesta is basically an extension of the same
chronological problem as that of the Veda. While Avestan scholars such as
Gnoli and Boyce have no problem fixing a terminus ad quem, they are quite
prepared to admit that terminus a quo is much more problematic and based
on such things as the Aryan invasion which, from the perspective of the
Indig. Aryan school is being contested, and therefore invalid in this
> As it happens, Proto-Finno-Ugric has loaned quite a few words from
> Proto-Indo-European. This means that if the PIEs came from India, they would
> have had to leave that area about 5000 B.C. and travel into Northeastern
> Russia to hand over the words to the Proto-Finno-Ugric people.
These are the commonly accepted dates. However, we should be aware of the
speculative nature of some of these dates as Zimmer comments in his
article "dating Proto-IE: a Call for Honesty" (JIE Studies, 16, 3-4)
However, PFU also has another set of loan words that must have come from
> Proto-Indo-Iranian, or possibly early Iranian, as it shows sound-changes
> typical of that language (e.g. Finnish porsas < IE *pork'os). This means
> that a second group of people (the "proto-Iranians") would have had to leave
> India, perhaps about 2000 B.C., pop up to the Finno-Ugrics, hand over the
> relevant words and then pop down to take over Iran.
That is one scenario I've seen argued (that there was a steady outflow
of tribes, orig. from India, and later from Iran). One interesting
point that is used in this regard, to support this proposal, is that the
loans are all one-way from Indo-Iranian into FU. The argument is that
had the Indo-Iranians been neighbors of the Finno-Ugrics in the steppes,
the loans would have been both ways (from FU into I-Ir, and vice versa).
That there are no Finno-Ug. loans in the Avesta or Vedic lit., is seen as
negative evidence that undermines the established theory that the I-Ir's
could have come from areas in the Steppes adjacent to the F-U'ics to
India. In such an event, Finno-Ugric loans should have surfaced in
later I-Ir texts.
Indo-Aryans are already
> present in the Middle East by 1450 B.C., as we can see from names and terms
> in cuneiform documents. The Iranians arrive later.
How is the later arrival of the Iranians determined? Also, we have no way
of determining how long the Mittani had been present in the area. They
could have preserved archaic Indo-Aryan language features in the same way
as Lithuanian has preserved archaic proto-IE features to this very day.
> Now, if we work on the assumption that both Iranians and Indo-Aryans came
> from India, it is logical to assume that both languages would have a number
> of loan-words from e.g. Dravidian languages. Dravidian influence is obvious
> in Sanskrit (and Vedic), whereas the Iranians - to the best of my knowledge
> - show no trace of such words. That is very strange for a language that
> allegedly comes from India.
There's been an incredible amount of debate over Dravidian etymologising,
with scholars such as Thieme (and even Mayrhofer) much more reticent than
scholars such as Kuiper to attribute unfamiliar words to Dravidian and
Munda. However, doubtlessly, there are plenty of non-IE words in the Vedic
corpus. That the Avesta shows no such influence works both ways, however.
Accepting that it didn't originate in India, it shows no foreign loans
whatsoever. It should show loans from whatever substrate language preceded
it in Iran. This, then, suggests to some Indig. Aryanists, that the
language was always indig to the extreme East of Iran (as part of an IE
homeland that stretched from NW frontier to E. Iran. The Avesta is
definitely East Iranian geographically). In any event, even
discounting that possibility, the response to the above would be that
due to being situated more to the NW of the homeland area, the
Avestan dialect did not come into as much contact with Dravid.
speakers as the Vedic speakers (or composers).
> An important word in all IE languages is the
> word for "horse", its cognates are attested in all major branches of IE. Now
> the horse is native to the Russian steppes... But the horse is not
native to India, being a steppe
> animal...we must assume that the Aryans brought the horse with
> them into India. That would, however, mean some kind of "invasion" or
The horse, has become the most searched for animal in the Indus Valley
(see the RISA discussion). Indig. Aryanists deal with this prob. in a
number of ways. One argument is that the animal was highly prized because
it wasn't native to India, and was only used for sacrificial, military,
and other elite functions (hence the paucity of bones--substantial
evidence of the horse does not show up until centuries after the commonly
accepted date of the Veda [1200 BCE], but we know the horse was extant
far earlier, in India, from the Vedic texts themselves). But, so the
argument goes, that has nothing to do with the nativeness of the Aryans
themselves--they imported them, and excelled in horse training. Also,
some Indig. Aryanists will argue, if
India is to be eliminated due to not having a native horse, the Steppes
must, by the same logic, be eliminated due to not having another proto-IE
creature well attested in cognate forms as native to the homeland--the bee
(and its honey). By this process, every potential homeland can be
eliminated for missing something.
> Thanks for your comments. Best regards,
> Edwin Bryant>
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