[INDOLOGY] Lexical challenge for the OIT

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Sun Oct 21 00:28:11 UTC 2018

Dear Paolo,

There's no need to join in the general insulting spree by ironically
accusing the INDOLOGY management committee of "changing policy."  Irony is
not a good tool in public email communications.

If anybody on this list wishes to know the policies of the forum, they are
on the website <http://indology.info> for all to read.  The heading to
click is "netiquette <http://indology.info/email/email-rfc-1855/>".  You
will find they have not changed.

The INDOLOGY forum is not moderated, and never has been.  The behaviour of
members is up to them.  But the management committee does sometimes
intervene privately or publicly when it seems that people are getting rude
and the language is not settling down by itself after a couple of exchanges.


When I read Dr Fournet's post, I winced at the opening paragraphs, which
were unacceptably rude in such a public forum.  I do understand the
background to his comments, but really, one can't talk like that in a
public, academic environment.  It does nobody any credit and does not
advance the quest for knowledge.

I also noticed the inutility of this rhetorical choice.  Dr Fournet's post
contained precise information and compelling argumentation, and challenged
Dr Elst in an interesting way to engage in a meaningful academic
discussion.  However, because of the rude opening remarks, Dr Elst was
justifiably able to spend many paragraphs in a rejoinder to the insults,
without giving the kind of scholarly and precise response to the specific
issues that Dr Fournet had raised, namely ancient loanwords appearing in

>From every point of view, it is always more charming, pleasant and also
utilitarian to maintain a polite tone in this forum.

Dominik Wujastyk
Member, INDOLOGY management committee.

On Thu, 18 Oct 2018 at 03:20, Magnone Paolo via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> 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)
> 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 a écrit :
> Message: 4
> Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2018 21:21:47 +0200 (CEST)
> From: koenraad.elst at telenet.be
> To: Shyam Ranganathan <shyamr at yorku.ca> <shyamr at yorku.ca>
> Cc: Indology <indology at list.indology.info> <indology at list.indology.info>
> Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Nazi-ism, India,
> Message-ID:
> 	<1870448034.285538446.1539631307453.JavaMail.zimbra at telenet.be> <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:
> http://www.academia.edu/33837547/PurvaPaksha1607NaziIndology.docx <https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.academia.edu%2F33837547%2FPurvaPaksha1607NaziIndology.docx&data=02%7C01%7Cpaolo.magnone%40unicatt.it%7Cf582ed55a6654921fbbc08d634d09f13%7Cb94f7d7481ff44a9b5886682acc85779%7C0%7C0%7C636754467968939182&sdata=zQg47KY4ovUK8fC6DQCEFISJJnv2i1IhP2QuiH9L9Rk%3D&reserved=0>
> 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:
> http://www.academia.edu/14458226/Why_Linguistics_necessarily_holds_the_key_to_the_solution_of_the_Indo-European_Homeland_question <https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.academia.edu%2F14458226%2FWhy_Linguistics_necessarily_holds_the_key_to_the_solution_of_the_Indo-European_Homeland_question&data=02%7C01%7Cpaolo.magnone%40unicatt.it%7Cf582ed55a6654921fbbc08d634d09f13%7Cb94f7d7481ff44a9b5886682acc85779%7C0%7C0%7C636754467968939182&sdata=6XbO44p60CfD%2F8ZsW%2FSDLoPviAPsY3UYFI4nbRM%2BPEU%3D&reserved=0>
> And in my book Asterisk in Bh?rop?yasth?n, of which the relevant chapters are available on-line:
> http://www.academia.edu/20084004/_The_politics_of_the_Aryan_invasion_debate_ch._3_of_K._Elst_Asterisk_in_Bh?rop?yasth?n_Delhi_2007 <https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.academia.edu%2F20084004%2F_The_politics_of_the_Aryan_invasion_debate_ch._3_of_K._Elst_Asterisk_in_Bh%3Frop%3Fyasth%3Fn_Delhi_2007&data=02%7C01%7Cpaolo.magnone%40unicatt.it%7Cf582ed55a6654921fbbc08d634d09f13%7Cb94f7d7481ff44a9b5886682acc85779%7C0%7C0%7C636754467968939182&sdata=ttAKgnynhAK%2FqXR4skqUntbjuTfIAU5Nfmg1%2BCWzYvQ%3D&reserved=0>
> http://www.academia.edu/20084136/_Savarkar_Hinduness_and_the_Aryan_Homeland_ch._4_of_K._Elst_Asterisk_in_Bh?rop?yasth?n_Delhi_2007 <https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.academia.edu%2F20084136%2F_Savarkar_Hinduness_and_the_Aryan_Homeland_ch._4_of_K._Elst_Asterisk_in_Bh%3Frop%3Fyasth%3Fn_Delhi_2007&data=02%7C01%7Cpaolo.magnone%40unicatt.it%7Cf582ed55a6654921fbbc08d634d09f13%7Cb94f7d7481ff44a9b5886682acc85779%7C0%7C0%7C636754467968939182&sdata=Cv953mstK1Su6ac3FMDZm398OtAzfQI4kvDB2yppY5I%3D&reserved=0>
> 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):
> http://koenraadelst.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-chinese-self-designation-hua-and.html <https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fkoenraadelst.blogspot.com%2F2017%2F04%2Fthe-chinese-self-designation-hua-and.html&data=02%7C01%7Cpaolo.magnone%40unicatt.it%7Cf582ed55a6654921fbbc08d634d09f13%7Cb94f7d7481ff44a9b5886682acc85779%7C0%7C0%7C636754467969095437&sdata=y7IScve7QUgT2XR336%2FllKnOYO9TUtyL2bLnl5ziCyg%3D&reserved=0>
> 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
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