Miguel Carrasquer Vidal mcv at WXS.NL
Sun May 10 22:31:23 UTC 1998

"Paul K. Manansala" <kabalen at MAIL.JPS.NET> wrote:

>> Modern Turks of Turkey speak an Altaic language, yet "biologically"
>> they are similar to ancient Anatolian populations speaking
>> Indo-European (Anatolian, Phrygian, Greek) languages.  I hear nobody
>> claiming that the Hittites were Altaic...
>But the ancient remains were not biologically similar to the stock
>believed to be the original speakers of Indo-European languages.

So what?  If modern Central Asians look like ancient Central Asians,
it's because biologically they are still largely Iranian.  What does
that have to do with the "original IE stock", whatever that means?

What *do* you believe is the "stock believed to be the original
speakers of Indo-European langugaes"?

>> >The fragmentary evidence of Iranian writings in the steppe mean
>> >nothing.  No more than early fragmentary Arabic writings in Indonesia or
>> >China.  There is  evidence of Altaic archaeological culture
>> >in the steppe and also linguistic evidence in local languages.
>> The evidence is not fragmentary.
>So what is the evidence then?

Inscriptions, manuscripts, a body of literature...

>> What is an "Altaic archaeological culture"?  What evidence in which
>> local languages?  Why are all the ancient loanwords in Finno-Ugrian
>> from Iranian or Tocharian, not Altaic?  How do you explain Tocharian
>> in the Tarim basin?
>The evidence of Tocharian in the Tarim basin is fragmentary.

No it isn't.  See: W. Krause/W. Thomas, "Tocharisches Elementarbuch",
2 volumes, Heidelberg 160, 1964.

>Regarding the Altaic culture, the similarities between Hsiung-nu and
>later Turko-Mongol culture with the culture ascribed to Scythians by
>Herodotus and others is well-known.  Here is a partial list:
>1. The joint burial of humans with horses often oriented toward East.

You are simply inverting the arguments of the outdated "Aryan
invasion" theorists.

>2. Fully nomadic society on horseback.

It's a steppe isn't it?

>3. Slitting the throat of the chief's wife and servants on tomb

Suttee?  You are simply inverting the arguments of the outdated
"Aryan invasion" theorists.

>4. Cutting one's enemy's skull at eyebrow level, inlaying with gold
>    and covering with leather to make a drinking cup.
>5. Head-hunting.
>6. Hanging scalps of victims from bridles.

You are simply inverting the arguments of the outdated "Aryan
invasion" theorists.

>7. Wide trousers strapped to the ankle.
>8. Fur cap and cape.

Like the ancient Germans/Slavs?

>9. Mourn dead by gashing face with knives so "blood flows with
>    tears."
>10. Had flocks of sheep and herds of horses, camel and cattle.
>11. Meat and milk diet.Rarely practiced regular agriculture.
>12. Dressed in skins.
>13. Wolf as totem guard and revival totem.
>14. Used felt tents and brought women and children in wagons.
>15. Practiced shamanism based on woship of Heaven and sacred
>      mountains.
>16. Supreme leader summoned all tribes in the autumn for census of
>      humans and animals.
>17. Used raiding and fleeing tactics.
>18. Depended on mounted bowmen in battle.
>19. Used same feigned retreat strategies.
>20. Both were experts at firing bows to the rear while mounted.
>21. Slept on furs.
>22. Usually shaved head except small tuft on top.
>23. Used similar small yet fierce pony.
>24. Switched horses in battle.
>25. Drank blood of horse during battle to prevent dehydration.
>26. Usually no beard except tuft on chin.
>27. Sheath of bow suspended from belt in front of left thigh.
>28. Quiver attached to belt and suspended across back with arrows to
>      right.
>29. Preferred mare's milk to other types of milk.
>30. Similar burial in raised mounds.
>31. Similar "plank and file" coffins
>32. Similar bows

All typical of *any* horse-based steppe pastoralist culture.  Says
nothing about the language.

>Concerning linguistic aspects, you know very well yourself that
>Yenesei-Ostyak languages used to be grouped together with Altaic
>langauges in the Ural-Altaic family.

I wouldn't be a linguist if I believed that!  Yenisey-Ostyak, the old
name for Ket, is closely allied to the extinct Yug, Kott, Arin,
Pumpokol and Assan languages, together forming the Yeniseian family.
They are unrelated to either Altaic or Uralic, and in fact the
Yeniseian family is best considered a small isolate family (links to
North Caucasian and Sino-Tibetan have been suggested, but are not
entirely convincing).

There is no such thing as a Ural-Altaic family, that's a 19th century
construct that has been utterly disproved.  There may not even be an
Altaic family.  Current consensus is that Mongol and Tungusic are
related, and probably further linked to Korean and Japanese.  The
similarities between Turkic and Mongol-Tungus(-Korean-Japanese) are
now thought to be due to areal diffusion.  Turkic is best treated as
an isolate for the time being.

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
mcv at

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