Dear List,

This paper that Andrew has passed on to us has many flaws, and these flaws are not just a  matter of personal animosity.  The paper certainly should have included reference to Asko Parpola's book, and all of his previous works on this topic. It should have included reference to other competent philologists and linguists as well.   Witzel is mentioned only in association with Farmer and Sprout, but he has done much significant work elsewhere on substrate languages in early Vedic [especially our oldest text the RV, where we find many foreign, non-Indo-European words [see Kuiper's famous list of some 380 foreign words in the RV ].  Because of these sorts of studies, done by philologists and linguists, we have reasonably good confidence to assert that Dravidian has a good chance of being the language of IVC as Asko argues, because there is good evidence that it was there, well before the RV].   There is also a reasonably good chance  that a Munda language was there as well, a language possibly spoken in IVC, because we have good evidence that these two language families were present in the area occupied by the IVC at the dates when it flourished.    By the time the Vedic clans arrived in this area the IVC  was  long dead.  But some IVC words and ideas may have survived, though rarely, in the Rgveda. 

Among specialists in the RV , RV 10.106 is generally considered to be the most difficult hymn in the RV [see , for example Geldner, Renou, and most recently Jamison & Brereton).  Kuiper has even suggested that this hymn was composed by a bilingual Rgvedic poet; if he was bilingual, we need to find out what his second language was].  Philologists with expertise in the languages that are known or are likely to have been present in the IVC area during its flourishing period need to examine  these foreign words in the RV.

Another factor not much discussed here is that IVC  was a huge territory, and therefore it is likely that it was a multilingual culture.  It is possible therefore that the IVC sign system was a non-linguistic sign-system, as suggested  by Farmer, Sprout, & Witzel, a long time ago, that was meant to communicate to many linguistic communities through visual rather than verbal signs .

Yes, this was a superficial article.  But it's comparison of Farmer to Trump is not entirely wrong.   Those two do share so many character traits that it is conceivable that they may be born twins, culturally speaking.

For those who wonder about Bryan Wells who claims to be an epigrapher: is he really an epigrapher? It may well  be that he doesn't actually claim to be one, and that this poorly informed  journalist didn't know what the term actually means.  Bryan Wells, as far as I know, has fruitfully studied the IVC signs for a long time, but I have never seen any evidence that he has significant knowledge of any of the languages that may have been or were in play in IVC at the relevant time-period. 

List members who are seriously interested in this question should read Parpola, Kuiper, Witzel, et al.  The computer models discussed in this article need to be linked to relevant languages.

My two-cents.

George Thompson

On Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 10:36 AM, Dermot Killingley via INDOLOGY <> wrote:
I read the piece quickly, and found it interesting how Trump has made himself the absolute
standard of mendacity. But I don't think anyone who, however mistakenly, has evidence to
support their statements, should be compared to him.


On 27 Jan 2017 at 8:07, Andrew Ollett via INDOLOGY wrote:

I hesitate to pass this popular-science treatment of the question along, since it is tinged with
some personal animosity, but this just appeared two days ago:

2017-01-27 6:37 GMT-05:00 Asko Parpola via INDOLOGY <>:
    In my book "The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization",
    New York: Oxford University Press, 2015,
    I present manifold evidence for the Dravidian affinity of the Harappan language.

    With best regards,

    Asko Parpola
    Professor Emeritus of Indology,
    University of Helsinki, Finland

    On Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 8:31 AM, Dean Michael Anderson via INDOLOGY
    < > wrote:

    There is no consensus about which language or languages the
    Harappan (Indus Valley Civilization) people spoke.
    The script is considered by most to be logo-syllabic, not
    Farmer, Witzel, Sproat consider it to be a sign system rather than a
    script associated with any particular language.
    Dr. Dean Michael Anderson
    East West Cultural Institute
    Austin, Texas, USA
    Pondicherry, India

    From: alakendu das via INDOLOGY <>
    To: Sent: Friday, January 27, 2017
    To All, While going through some books on Indus valley civilisation
    , I failed to find out one answer. Though the Harappana & Mohenjo
    daro script has been inferred as more of a Hieroglyphic type, what
    dialect/language did they speak ? Would love to be enlightened on
    this point. ALAKEND DAS.
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