The Aryans (again); 19th century discourse.

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal mcv at WXS.NL
Thu Dec 17 19:08:02 UTC 1998

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

>Mallory, A European Perspective on Indo-Europeans in Asia.
>" One of the most frequently violated principles of establishing
>the homeland of the Indo-Europeans states that there can be no
>solution to the IE homeland problem that does not solve the
>distribution of all the Indo-European stocks.  In the history
>of research into Indo-European origins, a traditional dichotomy
>has generally been proposed between the Asiatic Indo-European
>stocks (Indo-Iranian,Tocharian) and those of Europe. This has
>governed discussion of both the economy and the historical
>trajectories of the various IE stocks. "

Odd.  I would definitely have used the term "subgroup" or "branch"

>Could anyone please provide references that deal with proof
>or provide sufficient reason to believe
>that there was one PIE language and one PIE homeland.

Brugmann, K. (& B. Delbrueck), "Vergleichende Grammatik der
Indogermanischen Sprachen" vols. I-V, Strassburg 1897-1916

Meillet, A. "Introduction a` l'e'tude comparative des langues
indo-europe'ennes", Paris 1937

Szemere'nyi, O. "Einfuehrung in die vergleichende
Sprachwissenschaft", Darmstadt, 1989

Beekes, R.S.P. "Comparative Indo-European Linguistics",
Amsterdam/Philadelphia, 1995.


There is simply overwhelming evidence that a Proto-Indo-European
language once existed in a certain area during a certain period of
time.  There is no other way to explain the countless similarities
and exact correspondences between the different IE languages.

Of course it never was *one* PIE language at *one* single coordinate:
different dialects were always in existence, and in fact we can be
pretty specific about the features of the different dialects as well.
And obviously the PIE dialects changed in the course of time,
allowing us to distinguish between features that are pre-PIE, early
PIE, late PIE etc.

It is sometimes claimed that this wholly natural lack of precision
(no *single* PIE at a *single* place) invalidates the PIE hypothesis.
If there never was a single unified PIE language, then why assume PIE
existed at all?  Well, why assume English exists at all?  There isn't
and never was a single unified English language at a single spot.
But it's still meaningful to talk about the abstraction we call the
"English language".

>Is Mallory right in assuming that IE has to mean something more
>than just a language family and is more of a Culture -
>because he now has a Encyclopedia of IE Culture !!.

It was announced (e.g. in the Bibliography of Beekes, op.cit.) as
"Encyclopaedia of IE Studies".  I cannot find either title at

>Yet another question:
>How does one distinguish between what is genetic and what is
>due to borrowing when many languages are adjacent to each other
>for a long time?

It depends on whether the languages that are adjacent are
(genetically) related to each other in the first place.  If we have a
group of closely related languages, it is often difficult to
distinguish borrowings from cognates, especially if interborrowing
goes on for an extended period of time.  If the languages are not
related, or only remotely related (no mutual intellegibility), it is
easy to sort out the borrowings from the rest.  The borrowings will
be very different from the inherited items, show ad-hoc adapatations
to the phonology of the borrowing language, often violate phonotactic
constraints in the borrowing language, etc. etc.  It is very easy to
recognize French borrowings into English, harder to recognize Old
Norse borrowings, often very hard to recognize items borrowed from
other dialects, like Mercian or Kentish.

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
mcv at

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