[INDOLOGY] Lexical challenge for the OIT

Magnone Paolo paolo.magnone at unicatt.it
Thu Oct 18 09:19:42 UTC 2018

Dear  List Members and especially Moderators,

(With no particular wish to side with Koenrad Elst or to participate in the dispute)

A few years back I was reprimanded and even invited to retract just for a jocular remark on someone else’s  “American-like money-mindedness”. In the meantime the list policy must have changed a lot if it is now deemed fine for a list member to call in earnest a “shit-and-muck sprinkling system” some other list member’s discourse. Or does it depend on academic status — some list members may be freely offended, and some must not, even in a dream?

Paolo Magnone

Paolo Magnone
Sanskrit Language and Literature
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart - Milan
Introduction to Hinduism
Higher Institute of Religious Sciences - Milan

Jambudvipa  - Indology and Sanskrit Studies (www.jambudvipa.net<http://www.jambudvipa.net>)
Academia.edu: http://unicatt.academia.edu/PaoloMagnone

On 18/10/2018 10:05, Arnaud Fournet via INDOLOGY wrote:

@ Koenraad Elst

I'd like to propose you a lexical challenge about your beloved OIT.

As an aside, we might discuss the exact nature of your "work". Is it really a scientific discourse or is it a kind of parasitic commentary on scientific discourse? I don't know if here is the right place for that kind of epistemological debate. My opinion is that your discourse is mostly a shit-and-muck sprinkling system that parades behind the mask of a pseudo-historiographical narrative, and that tries to sell a reductio ad Nazismus of Indo-European studies. But I'll let that to rest, as it might have been already discussed here.

Apparently, you do not seem to list in your bibliography the review I made of Talageri's book about "the final evidence", after you sent me a copy 10 years ago. To be frank, I belong to the category you mention of people who had never heard of the OIT. To put it simple, the OIT is so insane that I had not even imagined it existed.

Insane though the OIT may seem, it's not so easy to refute on purely lexical grounds and during the 10 years since you sent me Talageri's book, I've been thinking about regular linguistic arguments about how to handle the issue of the PIE homeland.

People usually consider that if a family originates in some homeland somewhere, then sister-families of said family should be located in the whereabouts of said homeland. I think this principle is universally accepted.

So I will first provide a number of indications about sister-languages of PIE:

1. Basque contains words that have decidedly archaic PIE phonetics. For example, hartz "bear" which is strikingly similar to Hittite hartakka- (PIE *H2rt-k-). Another less well-known item is ulhe, ulle "wool" (PIE *wlH2-). These Basque words are all the more interesting as they contain laryngeals. There are quite a lot of such words, but not all with laryngeals.

It seems unlikely that these words can be directly borrowed from PIE. Rather they are probably borrowed from some sister-language of PIE that was farther west than PIE and could get in contact with Basque at some point in the prehistory of Basque.

2. The existence of sister-languages of PIE in (Western) Europe is shown by a number of words in IEan languages (like Germanic, Italic or Celtic) that look like cognates but have un-IEan vocalism. For example, the word *pat-, *paut- "paw", or the word *kaput- "head". These words can be compared with PIE *ped- "foot" and PIE *ghebh-el- "head, top". They are dialectal with a limited geographic distribution, and logically they cannot be inherited from PIE properly said.

These words (*pat-, *paut- "paw", *kaput- "head") are structurally isomorphic with PIE as to consonants, but the vocalism a/u is aberrant. In other words, they are cognates belonging to sister-languages of PIE.

3. Another set of words can be derived from PIE roots thanks to un-IEan morphology. An example of that situation is Greek maskhalê "armpit" which shares the root of Germanic *skl-dr- "shoulder" and an extra prefix m(a)-. The root in maskhalê is not *maskh- but *skhal-. This prefix m- is in fact more frequent than people have been aware so far. For example, *manu- "man" can be compared with PIE *H4n-er "man". Again, we can see that a word like *manu- has the same aberrant vocalism a/u as *pat-, *paut- "paw", and *kaput- "head". Another better-known prefix is a-.

In my opinion, these words (and there are plenty of others) are highly suggestive that PIE must have been originally located not too far from Europe, where sister-languages of PIE seem to have been spoken, before their ultimate replacement by IEan languages. Otherwise, it becomes impossible to understand how sister-languages of PIE can provide borrowings in Basque with archaic phonetics or substratic words that look like cognates of PIE regular words.

So my lexical challenge for you and your OIT comrades is as follows: Considering that the OIT claims that PIE was originally a neighbor of Dravidian, Munda or Tibeto-Burmese,

1. Could you please provide a few words in Dravidian, Munda or Tibeto-Burmese, that have archaic PIE phonetics (like Basque hartz)? Laryngeals are especially welcome.

2. Could you please provide a few words in Dravidian, Munda or Tibeto-Burmese, that look like borrowings from a sister-language of PIE (like pat, paut, kaput, etc)? That is to say isomorphic with PIE words but with aberrant vocalism.

3. Could you please provide a few words in Dravidian, Munda or Tibeto-Burmese, that can be explained as PIE roots with abnormal morphology (like the pair Greek maskhalê "armpit" vs Germanic *skl-dr- "shoulder")? Of course, several words are necessary to make an affix a reasonable hypothesis.

Looking forward to your proposals.

Best regards

Arnaud Fournet

Le 16/10/2018 à 18:00, indology-request at list.indology.info<mailto:indology-request at list.indology.info> a écrit :

Message: 4
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2018 21:21:47 +0200 (CEST)
From: koenraad.elst at telenet.be<mailto:koenraad.elst at telenet.be>
To: Shyam Ranganathan <shyamr at yorku.ca><mailto:shyamr at yorku.ca>
Cc: Indology <indology at list.indology.info><mailto:indology at list.indology.info>
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Nazi-ism, India,
        <1870448034.285538446.1539631307453.JavaMail.zimbra at telenet.be><mailto:1870448034.285538446.1539631307453.JavaMail.zimbra at telenet.be>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

Dear Shyam, dear listfolk,

" the development of ideas associated with National Socialism by those who took an interest in India"? That is the central thesis of Sheldon Pollock's paper Ex Oriente Nox, 1993, and this is my refutation:


On " the racist reception of India in Europe (the friendliness to "Arya" or "Swastika" for instance) where India was treated as a kind of European prehistory": India was treated as a kind of prehistory of Europe during the first decades after the official annunciation of Indo-European unity in 1786. And even before, vide passing remarks in that sense by Voltaire, Kant and Herder. Details available in my (in other respects already dated) paper:


And in my book Asterisk in Bh?rop?yasth?n, of which the relevant chapters are available on-line:



As for the swastika: if Hitler, who repeatedly expressed his contempt for India and Hinduism (as opposed to Islam: martial and natalistic and thus an example to follow), would never have chosen the Swastika if he had associated it with India. In his view, Indians received the benefit of the Swastika from the invading Aryans from Europe. He was a Philhellene (Grecophile) and the Swastika was a common motif in Greece and Troy. It also existed marginally in the European Middle Ages, and especially, even till today, in the Baltic states. There, in 1919-20, German WW1-returned soldiers formed the Freikorps militias to fight off Soviet aggression, and they brought it home. Many of these combative nationalists flocked to the budding NSDAP. Hitler vaguely knew that the Swastika was popular in Asia, but he attributed that to importation by the invading "Aryans". The Nazis and all other Europeans at that time located the Homeland somewhere in Europe. Most favoured at that time was the Pripyet swamps in Belorus, but Germany, Scandinavia, the Balkans and also already the Pontic steppes were other candidates, and Heinrich Himmler's research instititute Ahnenerbe even thought of Atlantis; but at any rate not India. Nor Tibet, where the SS sent an expedition but found that the Tibetans had the broadest skulls of all, whereas Aryans were supposed to be dolichocephalic.

In 1920, Hitler even explicitly formulated the Aryan Invasion Theory (references in one of the above papers), complete with upper-castes as mongrelized immigrants from Europe. Interestingly, some Indian AIT champions have recently revived this view, on the primitive assumption that the linguistic Homeland question can be solved by genetics, the more advanced form of the physical anthropology so dear to the Nazis.

As for "Aryan", of course the substance of the word came from Sanskrit, but a century before Nazism started. The attributed meaning was already a reinterpretation. It never had a racial meaning (in the physical-anthropological sense), though it had a relative-ethnic meaning: "fellow tribesman", "us". Hindu apologists will tell you that it only means "noble", but that is already a derived meaning. See:

http://koenraadelst.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-indo-european-vedic-and-post-vedic.html<https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fkoenraadelst.blogspot.com%2F2015%2F03%2Fthe-indo-european-vedic-and-post-vedic.html&data=02%7C01%7Cpaolo.magnone%40unicatt.it%7Cf582ed55a6654921fbbc08d634d09f13%7Cb94f7d7481ff44a9b5886682acc85779%7C0%7C0%7C636754467968939182&sdata=SP0rDS4cq6ijDojfD1u4VPXMGv0xfviIkCqYj8839AI%3D&reserved=0> (please ignore the garbled chapter numeration)

and (you might be surprised by the title, as I was when discovering this hypothesis):


I have more stuff on this topic, all generated by debates with existing opposite viewpoints. There are many misconceptions and mystifications in this field (often deliberately kept alive for political reasons), yet you only need to read Hitler's brief but crystal-clear statements on Hindus and on Aryans to start pin-pricking them.

Hope this helps.

Dr. Koenraad Elst, non-affiliated Orientalist

INDOLOGY mailing list
INDOLOGY at list.indology.info<mailto:INDOLOGY at list.indology.info>
indology-owner at list.indology.info<mailto:indology-owner at list.indology.info> (messages to the list's managing committee)
https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Flistinfo.indology.info&data=02%7C01%7Cpaolo.magnone%40unicatt.it%7Cf582ed55a6654921fbbc08d634d09f13%7Cb94f7d7481ff44a9b5886682acc85779%7C0%7C0%7C636754467969095437&sdata=NWrND7PUeRSKv0HhWKs2SCapCH0ZaF8X9XnwpUJ%2FbFQ%3D&reserved=0 (where you can change your list options or unsubscribe)

Destina il tuo 5 per mille all’Università Cattolica
CF 02133120150

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology/attachments/20181018/6488c3fb/attachment.htm>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list