Linguistic KB

Tue Jun 22 16:37:39 UTC 1999

I'm not sure what your point is -- could you clarify please? How do you
use genetic evidence to reconstruct linguistic history or the migration of
*languages*? I'm not an expert in historical linguistics but I take talk
of an IndoEuropean homeland to mean that the *language*
Proto-Indo-European can be traced back to a particular region based on
linguistic evidence. This does suggest something about the migration of a
few people -- because they had to migrate to spread the language, but the
migration could have been limited to very few people (which need not have
had a great impact on biological-genetic relationships) and more
importantly, these people need not have actually travelled all the way
from the homeland to the entire region in which Indo-European languages
are found. E.g. a few people could have carried PIE to regions immediately
surrounding the homeland. Then a few *other* people could have carried
descendent dialects/languages of PIE to areas further away, and so on.
Thus biological relationships between people do not have to match
linguistic relationships between the languages they speak. And so
biological genetic relationships could not tell us much about the homeland
of a *language*.


On Tue, 22 Jun 1999, Raoul Martens wrote:

> On Mon, 21 June 1999, Dominik Wujastyk wrote:
> > Do you have good reasons to disagree with the techniques for linguist-
> > ic chronometrics and language drift discussed, for instance, Renfrew's > old book Archaeology and Language, and the sources he refers to?
> There certainly seems to be some such good reasons:
> 1) The theories of Renfrew & Gimbutas re. the 'Indo-European Homeland"
> have been efficiently refuted by geneticists Sokal, Oden and Thomson in
> 'Origins of the Indo-Europeans: Genetic evidence' in Proceedings of the
> National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. Vol. 89, 1992. The average correla-
> tion genes/language (GEN,LAN) 0.141 for 25 genesystems (incl. the ABO
> bloodgroups at 0.144) is statistically significant, whereas the corres-
> ponding values for Renfrew's/Gimbuta's models 0.060/0.067 are not.
> 2) A 'dendrite' of bloodgroup frequencies for 45 world populations in-
> dicates a central position for the Hindus with a direct link to Egypt,
> see Hirszfeld, Ludwik: Probleme der Blutgruppenforschung, Jena 1960.
> 3) In 'Indo-Europeans in the Middle East', Anthropological Linguistics
> Vol. 23, nr 6 1981 C.T. Hodge argues that 'Afro-Aryans' must have left
> Egypt for the Near (and Middle) East at the very latest 13.000 BC.
> 4. As often reported in the media mitochondrial DNA indicates that the
> whole world population descends from not very distant African ancestors.
> In view hereof and as the Cro-Magnons are commonly held to have had the
> ability of speach 40.000 BC no (re)constructed 'proto-language' apply-
> ing to 4000 BC appears to reflect the 'homeland' of any
> languagegroup.
> Sincerely
> Raoul Martens

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