A third Indo-Aryan thesis?

Edwin Bryant ebryant at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Mon Mar 23 16:23:16 UTC 1998

On Mon, 23 Mar 1998, Vidhyanath Rao wrote:

> It should be noted that there are >three< different theories around,
> not just two. Thompson and many philologists seem to assume that
> either Vedic culture developed mostly outside South Asia and was
> introduced as a finished product, or India must have been the
> urheimat of PIE speakers.
> >From the perspective of archaeology, it is very possible that IE speakers
> got to the Northwest part of the subcontinent well before 2000 BCE,
> and the Indo-Iranian culture, with its emphasis on the horse
> developed in situ, after the domesticated horse reached them via
> trade.

Well, if I understand you correctly, I would consider this to be
primarily a variant of the Aryan migration thesis, albeit with a modified
time frame. It does, however, contain an element that would be acceptable
to some Indigenous Aryanists which I have tried to note in previous posts,
vis, that horse domestication could have arrived into the
NW/Pak/Afghanistan area where the Indo-Iranians where already in situ
(and, therefore independent of them).

But there is what I would consider to be a distinct third theory which is
less of a variant of the two we have been presently considering.  This
seems to be favoured by Kenoyer, and was argued by K.D.Sethna.   In this
view, the original area where IE dialects were spoken was much larger than
is generally accepted and stretched all the way from the Caspian to the NW
of the subcontinent.  Kenoyer argues that nomads were constantly
criss-crossing this area to and fro resulting in a common language family.
While this might work archaeologically, and is convenient in so far as
it bypasses the need for refuting either an 'into' or 'out of' India
model I suspect that most linguists would say that a language family needs
a more compact source of origin for its members to develop significant
shared morphological and lexical features (based on the geographical
history of other language families that are presently known).   Regards,

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