Tampering with history 2

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Jun 19 13:07:15 UTC 1998

(Part 2 : general)

In all the cases quoted in part 1: why is the bulk/weight of the evidence
is outside the subcontinent? How would it have left?

NB: We do not "start with immigration", rather one thought in the early
19th c.  that India could have been the home of the IE languages, but
items such as those above made scholars change their mind. Not the other
way round: *Inductive, not deductive* method.

One could go on. If someone can show me how the above and a host of other
items could have evolved in S. Asia, I will change my stace.

> Witzel in a previous posting provided references to many of
> the bhai-bhai (kinship?) linguistic hypotheses and he even discounted
> them -

Did I ? Only with the proviso repeated just now. (The only Bhai-bhai-s I
know of are the long past Hind-Ciin Bhai-Bhai days of the Fifties!).

> Do you realize why ?. Because,in my opinion, all such bhai-bhai
> thories basically  weaken the Aryan invasion/migration theory.

On the contrary. If words, grammar, poetry, meter, concepts, rituals,
religion, customs, animals, technology, are shared by the Indian and
European bhai's then this must have come from ... somewhere.

(AND I DO NOT CARE whether this somewhere is in the Pamirs (as some people
thought a hundred yearas ago), in the Ukraine, or in the Panjab: But it
should be made plausible, taking ALL evidence into account and not just
ONE item (say, Kak's calculations).

> Just
> as an example pick up the Aryan and Non-Aryan in India and verify if
> the wide range of views presented there, corroborate or contradict one
> another.

Scholarship is a dialectic process. Each one of us is not right all of the
time. But can be corrected by others. Hence disagreement and discussion.

But some positions are outdated. and it is a waste of time always to
repeat why the earth is NOT flat. -- IE *(h)ekwo-s does not look like
(Skt) azva-s "horse" as scholars thought (before the Junggrammatiker
c. 1860). SS Misra now reverts to these blissful days of incipient IE
studies of the early 19th cent. - No longer discussable and a waste of
time for all involved.

In the same way, one thought, in the 19th c., of "movements of people" in
terms of the Huns' invasion of Europe, of Germanic tribes on the move,
such as the Cimbri/Teutoni, Goths, or of Celtic ones such as the Helvetii
or Caesar's Belgae into Britain! (sorry, Mr Renfrew).  But we have
developed (often, while not even knowing about the current discussion in
India!)  much more sophisticated models for spread of language/ culture,
and (yes!) even people and their local acculturation.
<why people, see below>.

> Because of the wide range of views (and contradicting one another),
> your opinion, that there is conclusive linguistic evidence
> of a migration into India, is not correct.

Show how with (ling.) arguments! Statements (Mantras) like this one do not
suffice!! See above on scholarly disagreement.

> It is one thing to keep referring to  "linguistic
> evidence" and totally another to provide conclusive evidence.

Nobody does that (Who?). This is too easy. To quote Lars Fosse, if even
now some people disagree on the shape of the earth that does not disprove
the scientific description of it.  Linguistics works in comparable ways.
If the IE linguists had NOT developed a fool proof system, how could they
have *predicted*, way back in the 19th c., the laryngeals and decades
(i.e.  de Saussure) before they were found in Hittite (1916 I think) ? Or
pre-Greek *kw before it finally was detected in Mycenean Greek in 1948?

Again, we need detailed arguments, not general Mantras such as
"linguistics does not work" etc, to convince people like myself. I have
not seen that, neither on this list nor elsewhere.

> As for the comments  about  political motivation -
> racist and political
> invasion/migration theory glass house

Why, *nowadays*, racist and political? No one accuses the Bantu
specialists for having shown that speakers of Bantu come from the contact
zone in W.  Africa (like Cameroon; and a South African or, for that
matter, a Pygmy, does not look like a Cameroonian). Nobody accuses the
Polynesian linguists to have shown that all Polynesian speaking *peoples*
(Hawaii etc.) came from Fiji/Tonga (Savai)  c. 1100 BC (and ultimately
probably from Taiwan: *Sawaiki), or that Amerindians came from Siberia ...

To be clear:  Why is only an immigration *INTO S. Asia* racist (but not
the one OUT OF INDIA), and not those involving Polynesians, etc.?

In other words, why is only the (small scale) Indo_Aryan immigration not
allowed, but the movements of the Khasi/Mundas, Dravidians,
Tibeto-Burmese, Ahoms etc. into S. Asia are ok?  What is going on here?

The only peoples not (yet) suspected of immigration into India are the
Nahal (near Ellichpur, R. Narmada) and maybe the Burusho in Hunza/Pamirs.
All other languages (NOTE: NOT the bulk of the PEOPLE!)  seem to have
immigrated from outside... just like everywhere ELSE in the world.

Why should *just S. Asia* be different?

We have known for quite some time that language (+ culture) has nothing to
do with race. How could, to use the outdated terms, "black, white, yellow,
red, brown" or whatever people in the US all be American, that is,
Indo_European speaking people?

We do not live in 1947 but in 1998. Why not to concentrate on real
Indological issues not imaginary or long discredited ones?

iti samaaptam.
Michael Witzel                       witzel at fas.harvard.edu

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