Tampering with history

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Sun Jun 21 10:39:51 UTC 1998

At 01:37 21.06.98 +0100, you wrote:
>Lars Martin Fosse wrote:
>>If the Aryan languages didn't come from India,
>>they would have to have entered the subcontinent, and to be carried there by
>>a group of people large enough to make a real impact.

>My reading of Palaniappan's (as usual) excellent latest posting is that
>"large enough" is so poorly defined as to become almost meaningless.
>His example gives a group of 0.15 to 0.7 percent of the total population
>(his sample, and note, not historical, figures) having a real cultural
>and linguistic impact, to the point, if I understand him correctly,
>of making Malayalam a language distinct of Tamil. So how large is "large
>enough" for you? What do you have in mind as a figure for the number of
>Aryans entering India?

As far as a I can see, most shifts in language of the kind we see in India
are due to migrations: Greeks in Greece, Hittites in Anatolia, Italic
speakes in Italy, etc. etc. How to put "large enough" into figures is, of
course, a more difficult matter. But let me point to the fact that the
Muslim invasions in India did not change the linguistic map of India
substantially. You got Urdu, which is a Muslim version of Hindustani, but
basically an Indian language. Persian was widely used for a period by the
educated, but neither Turkish, Persian or any Central Asian language was
established as the everyday language of ordinary people. The same argument
applies to the Huns. But then the military Muslim elites were small. In the
case of the Aryan migrations, we must have had much more than military
elites. There will have been all kinds of people, if you like whole tribes,
men, women and children, pouring in, which means that Vedic/Sanskrit/Prakrit
would be met at all levels of society. This is a slightly different process
from the one described by Palaniappan. After all, Tamil was changed, but
into another Dravidian language. The Nambudiri brahmins did not create a
whole linguistic family. But apart from that, the example is interesting.

But how many? Impossible to say.

>>I suspect that by the
>>year 1000 BCE, Northern India was a bit like Latin America 300 years ago:
>>Lots of Europeans streaming in, mostly Spanish speaking, and confronting the
>>local populations.
>You must have a decidedly personal view of what happened in Latin
>America. Using one of the numerous European colonial enterprises as
>an analogy for how Aryans entered India brings us back to the image
>of the conquering Aryan riding in and enslaving the indigenous popu-
>lation. And I thought that stuff was history.

I don't think it is a personal view at all. To the contrary, it is very much
in keeping with the process described by Witzel, where he postulates a
steady trickle of Indo-Aryans into India for several generations. AS for
confrontation, we know that the Indo-Aryans were warlike - the Veda tells us
so - and that they probably would fight both other Indo-Aryans and
non-Aryans. What is outdated, is the "massive war-like invasion theory"
where the Aryans come storming down from the hills flattening the
Indus-culture on their way. But that was certainly not my point. What I was
talking about, was basically the demographic situation, not the quality of
human relationships in North India.

Best regards,

Lars Martin

Dr.art. Lars Martin Fosse
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