Indo-Aryan migration vs Indigenous origin - scholarly debate

Dominique.Thillaud thillaud at UNICE.FR
Thu Mar 26 08:45:55 UTC 1998

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal wrote:

>The rapprochement with Kartvelian that I mentioned (PIE *ok^toxw ~ PK
>*os'txw) was not necessarily meant in a Nostratic context.  Internal
>analysis of the numbers is, as you say, difficult, and so is their
>"external" analysis.  On the face of it, there seem to be a number of
>indications that there may have been a fair amount of borrowing of
>numerals (especially in the range 6 to 9) going on at some early
>stage, presumably the Neolithic.
>I personally have little doubt that Kartvelian *cxra- "9" was borrowed
>from Semitic *tis3a(t)-, but I am more uncertain about Kartvelian
>*arwa "8" < Semitic *?arba3a(t)- "4" as suggested by Johanna Nichols.
>That Indo-European *septm "7" was borrowed from Semitic *sab3a(t)- "7"
>is in my opinion a near-certainty, but I again I'm less positive about
>PIE *s(w)ek^s "6" < Sem. *sidTa(t)- (Akk. s^is^s^-).  The same goes
>for Proto-Kartvelian *eks^w- "6" and *s^wid- "7" (from Semitic?) and
>the already mentioned *os^txw- (from IE?).  Finally there is the
>interesting semantic parallel noted by Loprieno between Egyptian
><psDw> "9" (cf. <psDn.tjw> "new moon") and IE *(h1)newn "9" (cf.
>*newos "new"): independent creation or calque, and if so, which way?
>I had better stop now, since all of this is of course only very
>indirectly relevant to the topic of the "Indo-Aryan migration".
>However, it *does* seem to suggest contacts between PIE and
>PKartv/PSem. at an early date, as do some other borrowed Neolithic
>items such as *tawros "bull" ~ PS. *Tawr-; *woinos "wine" ~ PS.
>*wajn-, etc., contacts which are incompatible with both the Southern
>Russian steppe-model AND the Indi-genous model.

        I'll stop after a trivial remark:
        We know from languages where the numbers are only "one, two, three,
many" that the notion of numbers is probably not very old, perhaps linked
with the neolithic and the new need to count grains' jars, cattle, &c.
Hence, I accept easily the borrowing of their names as highly probable and
the Mesopotomia (but not necessarily the "recent" Akkadian) plays perhaps a
role in the process.
        But I'm strictly unable to understand:
        - why such "contacts are incompatible with both the Southern
Russian steppe-model AND the Indi-genous model". The broad and ancient
diffusion of neolithical technics is well known and probably earlier than
an Eurindian dispersion.
        - how the borrowing of a coherent serie (eg. "4".."10") could be
from different languages as showed in your examples. "7" is useless without
"6" and "8" ...
        I'm persuaded that the process is much older than our linguistical
knowledge, that, stones and bones don't talking, going farther than 2 or 3
millenars before the writing is dubious, and, personnally, I accept to be
ignorant about this process, waiting for the development of well organized
        Nothing but my opinion. Regards,

Dominique THILLAUD
Universite' de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France

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