The Aryans (again); 19th century discourse.

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal mcv at WXS.NL
Wed Dec 16 22:00:21 UTC 1998

SNS <sns at IX.NETCOM.COM> wrote:

>A Question:  Mallory now uses the term Indo-European Stock
>- does that mean that Indo-European refers to something more than
>a language family ? or is there something in linguistics about
>IE-stock - Could someone please explain ?

I haven't seen Mallory use that term, but in any case it's not common
practice.  I suppose it depends on how one defines a language
"family" as against a language "stock".  I you take "stock" simply as
a "family of families", then IE qualifies (since it consists of
families like Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Indo-Iranian, etc.)  But that
would make Indo-Iranian a "stock" as well, which would definitely be
an eccentric usage of the term.  If you take "stock" as a term for a
group of sufficiently distinct / remote branches, IE qualifies if you
accept the Indo-Hittite hypothesis (IE would then consist of the
Anatolian language family on the one hand, and Indo-European "proper"
on the other).  But what is "sufficiently distinct"?  In
glottochronology, a "family" was defined as a group of languages
sharing 26~35% of cognates (corresponding to a separation of 35~45
centuries), and a "stock" or "phylum" as a group sharing only 14~19%
of cognates (corresponding to a separation of 55~65 centuries).  But
glottochronology has been disproved.  We might still take the % of
cognates as a rule of thumb for distinguishing between families and
stocks, but the "centuries of separation" are definitely out.

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
mcv at

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