Indo-Aryan invasion

Edwin Bryant ebryant at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Tue Mar 3 12:24:39 UTC 1998

On Sun, 1 Mar 1998, Lars Martin Fosse wrote:

In view of Jacob's admonition, I am revisiting Lars' original statement.

> In other words, since 4500 BCE Indo-Europeans were present in India,
> but did not develop any other languages than Skt. and Iranian. Such a model
> is counter-intuitive and at variance with the situations we can observe
> elsewhere.

I agree with this.  It seems rather unlikely unless there were other
homogenizing factors at work, for which there is no easy evidence.
There are various weaknesses in the Indig. Aryan position that take a lot
of hard work to get around, and this is one of them.

> Just like the IE in Eurasia, we would expect the IE in India to
> develop a rich flora of languages, some of which would have traces of the
> grammatical features that we find in the West, but not in Skt. and Iranian.

How would you respond to the argument made by, say, the linguist Lacchmi
Dhar in the 50's that the greater variety of linguistic forms in the West
is due to the fact that these languages had to impose themselves on non-IE
substrata, thereby resulting in the greater linguistic turbulence in the
West?  In Dhar's out-of-India model, the more homogeneous development of
Indo-Iranian is due to the fact that PIE did not have such non-IE
substrata in India to cause such linguistic variety.  I agree, however,
that this model does not easily account for the fact that linguistic
variety *does* occur in India in the post-Indo-Aryan period.  Clearly, if
it occurred in the later period, then why not earlier?  And this, of
course, is part of your point.   But how would you, or anyone, respond to
Dhar's argument nonetheless?

> And then, as already stated several times, there is the fact that no
> languages outside India show any trace of specifically Indian features,
> neither in vocabulary nor in grammar.

Here, however, for some of the reasons I noted in my previous posting, I
don't think the standard arguments are quite as convincing.  The I-A
languages could have developed their own non-IE grammatical features after
the Western languages had left (in an out-of-India model) some of which
were developed areally in an adstratum (as opposed to substratum) South
Asian linguistic situation.   And, as has been pointed out for a century,
vocabulary terms for typically South Asian fauna and flora would not be
expected to occur in the Western languages once their referents had
disappeared from view (but see Gramkrelidze and Ivanov).  Nor would
typically Western terms (beeches, etc) be expected to surface in I-A since
these were coined by the outgoing tribes at a later time upon encountering
unfamiliar objects.     Regards, Edwin.

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