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  1. Tracing the Indo-Europeansthrough Linguistic Palaeontology(II) Adam Hyllested Roots of EuropeUniversity of Copenhagen

  2. Why reconstruct the past? • Obviously: • To understand the past • To understand the relations • between the different points • in time (involving the present • or not) • But also: • To find (the simplest possible) • explanations for present-day • phenomena, e.g. anomalies • (in language, culture …) • which otherwise cannot be found

  3. Linguistic palaeontology • Or: • Linguistic prehistory • Linguistic archaeology • Palaeolinguistics (ambiguous term) • Cultural reconstruction • = • Using (historical, contemporary, dialectal) linguistic findings for historical inferences and the study of the human past: • Homelands (geography) • Material culture • Spiritual culture • Social organization • Interaction with nature • Migrations • Population splits • Contacts / trade routes

  4. What can be the subject of reconstruction? • Prehistoric societies and • notions:organisation • way of life • material culture • customs • religion/ideology • concepts • Human populations, • interaction and conditions • migrations • homelands • peopling • contacts • population mixture • language shift • geography, climate • diseases

  5. Just as it is the case with language … • For prehistoric societies, notions, populations, interaction and conditions we can reconstruct • synchronic stages • Change between different • stages (some of which may be • documented)

  6. Written sources • We do not always have themMany scholars define history as the past documented (in parts) by written sourcesPrehistory is the past without written sources

  7. Linguistic use of the term ‘prehistoric’ • Also used if the history is somewhat documented, but the language is not, e.g. • “The prehistory of the Albanian language” – not ambiguous • = from A The emergence of the the Albanian subgroup of Indo-European (before written sources)  B the earliest written sources (1412, Old Albanian) • “The history …” is ambiguous • = from A to the present day (Modern Albanian), or • = from B to the present day

  8. But does ”no written sources” mean: • - That we cannot reconstruct prehistoric language? • - That we cannot use language in our prehistoric reconstruction? • On the contrary! • That is exactly what reconstruction is about: • We use early and modern attestations to recreate the otherwise undocumented past • Language is often a more reliable source than material findings because linguistic data are inherently interconnected

  9. How do we reconstruct the past • Pekka Sammallahti: • Cultural differences between human societies are reflected in the lexical resources of their langauage: • Some have 20,000 concepts • Some have millions • A single individual in a complex society masters only a fraction – many word stems (up to 20,000 in extreme cases) • In simple cultures all concepts are common property = the number of basic word stems do not vary as much (3000+)

  10. Concepts • = Ideas of the entities, properties, situation and processes in their physical, cultural, societal and psychological environment

  11. How do we reconstruct the past? Distribution • 1) The geographical distribution of language families • Lack of complexity • typically reflects (relatively) • recent expansions, • typically connected to • inventions and cultural or • political power

  12. Phonetic properties of languages compared • Yeniseiyan languages in Siberia must be newcomers to the area because they do not sound like their neighbors (Michael Fortescue) • Conversely, Basque and Spanish have been neighbors on the Iberian Peninsula for long because they sound alike • Turkish – Armenian – Farsi • Maltese – Italian • Finnish – Finnish-Swedish • German – Danish

  13. Vocabulary • Existence: we can reconstruct a word for ‘hammer’ • Semantic fields: we can reconctruct a lot of words pertaining to hammering • Word-formation: The word for hammer is formed by the word for ‘stone’ • Language contact: The word for hammer is borrowed from Fennic • Semantic anomalies: The word for hammer also means ‘sky’

  14. Semantic anomalies • ‘Weasel’ and ‘young woman’: • Italian donnola • Portuguese doninha • Hungarian hölgy • Danish brud • Romany borí ‘Weasel’ and ‘burbot’ • Greek nyfítsa • etc. etc. Latin mustēla • Ancient Greek galéē • Hungarian menyhal • Lithuanian menkė‘burbot’ •  ‘mink’

  15. Fenno-Ugric ethnonyms • Ethnonym Meaning covered by Germanic *finōn- ‘fin, patch, scale, pimple’ • Finn fin, Swedish finne ‘pimple’ • Estonian Baltic *aistra- ‘pimple’ • Lapp Swedish lapp ‘patch’ • Suomi Finnish suomu ‘fish scale’ • Vote Baltic *vadja- ‘fin, patch’ • Veps Saami *vepse- ‘fin’ • Sambi Fennic *sampe- ‘back fin’ • Magyar Czech dial. mad’ar ‘pimple’ • Ugrian Russian ugor’ ‘pimple’ • Siberian ethonyms are • often derived from • trading objects, in some cases ‘money’ • Derived from a word for ‘fish scale’

  16. Wörter und Sachen (I) • Basic principle: • A language bears a close relationship to the culture of the people who speak it • = The vocabulary (and, perhaps, other parts) of a language can tell us something about the culture and living conditions of the people speaking that language • When we apply this to reconstructed language stages as a way of determining the content of a earlier cultures, we • are using the Wörter und Sachen technique • The methods were developed in • the early 1900’s by Rudolf Meringer, • Hugo Schuchardt and • Wilhelm Meyer-Lübke

  17. Case: Austronesian • Proto-Austronesian • *kaka: ‘elder same-sex sibling’ • *huaji: ‘younger same-sex sibling’ • *bubu: fish trap • *tulaNi: ‘bamboo nose flute’

  18. Correlation of information (I) • *babui ‘wild pig’ • *beγek ‘domesticated pig’ • In the Oceanic subgroup, only • the latter survived • Archaeology tells us that Austronesians brought • domesticated pigs with them to Oceania in their canoes – • originally there were no pigs there, and the wild pigs stayed behind

  19. Geology, climatography, oceanography (I) • The dry Black Sea (Ryan & Pitman) • Flooding around 5600 BC • New evidence from the ASSEMBLAGE project 1998-2005 • Bering strait; ice-age barriers and corridors

  20. Geology, climatography, oceanography (II) • Doggerland • In the Mesolithic, 8000 BC • Relevance for North-West European substrata

  21. Correlation of information • Linguistic results can be cross-referenced with knowledge from • Archaeology and history • Ethnohistory • Oral history • Tradition • Ethnobotany • Ethnomedicine • Mythology • Anthropology • Population genetics • Geology • Climatology • Zoogeography • Typology of traditional cultures • (rituals, kinsip systems, cosmology, domestication etc.)

  22. Primitive = traditional? • Different today? Globalization • Note wanderwörter do not emerge anymore • Instead we have got a new kind of culture-words, internationalisms • Cultural and chronological distance to the “modern civilization” are supposed to coincide somewhat • “Primitive societies” = “Traditional” societiesNomadic, hunter-gatherer, scattered populations, small groups, endo- vs. exogamy, language transition and convergence, hard to distinguish religion from practice • Vs. urban, concentration, fast-scale transport, distribution of knowledge and goals, language standardization and contact, religion becomes easier to isolate

  23. The nature of reconstruction • Claim: ”Reconstructed languages are not real languages - • Reconstructed societies are not real societies” • Think of it this way: • A detective and the police reconstructs a crime • ”It is not a real crime that we are reconstructing” • Of course not, but that is inherent in the word ‘reconstruction’ • If you believe the real crime happened in a different way, you would reconstruct that instead • Reconstruction is striving – a nearer and nearer approximation to the past

  24. The Indo-Europeans: Three questions • Where (and when)? • Fixing the homeland in time and space • Who? • Identifying the speakers and their culture • Whither (and when, how, why)? • Tracing the (linguistic) migrations, their characteristics, their causes, and their influence on new populations

  25. In search of speakers and cultures (I) • Frederik Kortlandt (“The Spread of the Indo-Europeans”): • “It is a methodologically legitimate activity to look for archaeological traces of a linguistic group, but the • converse does not hold. Speculations about the • linguistic affinity of a prehistoric culture are futile because it is reasonable to assume that the vast majority of prehistoric linguistic groups have vanished without leaving a trace” • “It is certainly attractive to assign the ancestors of the speakers of Proto-Tocharian to the Afanasievo culture … but we must never forget that the very existence of the Tocharian texts which have survived is a purely accidental fact of history, due to a number of factors which happened to concur thousands of years after the eastward migrations of the Indo-Europeans”

  26. In search of speakers and cultures (II) • However:Placing a protolanguage in time and space is not the same as identifying it with a known archaeological cultures • Two steps: • Fixing a protolanguage (tentatively) in time and space • Identification with one or more archaeological cultures (overlapping) • We should: • Try to create the most plausible scenario • Revise the scenario whenever new knowledge is available

  27. Comparative linguistics: Tasks and prospects • Comparative linguistics is at this time one of thevery few branches of science which can supply information about the preliterate history of man. There have been several attempts to combine linguistic data with archeological and genetic evidence, some of which have given very promising results. Surely, if we could extend linguistic evidence to dates earlier than the 4th-5th millennium, this could be very useful for the whole field of human history. • Sergej Starostin: • ”Methodology of Long-Range Comparison”. • – Historical Linguistics and Lexicostatistics. • Melbourne 1999: 61-66

  28. Revising Wörter und Sachen • Single terms for topographic features are of little value (”too basic to be helpful”, Fortson 2004): • PIE *mor-ior *mar-i’sea’ is no evidence of a homeland near the sea (as claimed by Hirt 1905-07) • The most famous figures connected • with two human populations located • in Central Asia, Mongolians and • Tibetans, are • the Mongolian emperor • Genghis Khan ’ruler of the sea’ • (  OTurk. tengiz ’sea’) • and • the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama ’ocean – guru’ ( • Mongolian dalai ’sea’)

  29. Revising Wörter und Sachen (II) • Correspondingly, that we can reconstruct a common Indo-European noun • *snoi̯gʰʷos ‘snow’ • and a verbal root • *snei̯gʰʷ- ‘to snow’ • (PIE meaning confirmed by a • study by Anna Helene Feulner • 2004 [2009]), • is not of much help

  30. Revising Wörter und Sachen (III) • All peoples of the northern hemisphere have words for ‘snow’, and earlier lowland populations without domestic snowfall must have known snow from mountains, neighbouring areas or hard winters (even Saudi-Arabia experiences snow once in a while).

  31. A principle in modern cultural reconstruction • More relevant: • a) complexity of terminologies pertaining to semantic fieldsb) shared specific semantics of identical formations • Proto-Uralic *wopV • ‘bivouac in the snow’

  32. Semantic archaisms and cultural semantics • Brian Joseph, Copenhagen lectures, May 2010: • Words can mean more than lexical semantics • ”Culturally sensitive semantics” and metaphors that can reveal an ”ideology” connected with particular words, the set of underlying assumptions that go along with how the meaning of a word or a phrase fits into the whole set of associations that it summons up

  33. Cultural semantics in etymology (Brian Joseph) • Similarly, we can see ”culture-in-semantics” in etymology, e.g. by a euphemistic usage that is tied to cultural belief, or a derivation that is quite revealing of cultural practices • Danish venstre ’left’, based on the root of ven ’friend’, a euphemism not unlike Greek aristerós, from the root for ’best’, where one can detect a taboo against being too overt in mention of the suspect and less normal left hand • Albanian darsmë ’wedding’ < *dorkʷ-i-mo-, cf. Greek epi-dórp-i-on ’second part of a symposion with dessert etc.’ • Danish vindue, Eng. window  Old Norse vindauga where vindr ’roof, attic’(and auga ’eye’) • Danish væg ’wall’ < Germanic *wajjuz, from the root *weyH- ’to plait, to braid, to weave (branches)’

  34. A vindauga (‘roof eye’) = window

  35. Denotative and connotative meanings (B. Joseph) • Proto-Indo-European, being a normal language spoken by humans not all that different in many respects from us today, had its share of words that have meanings and connotations that go beyond the simple lexical denotation: • Greek benéō ’to fuck’ < *gʷen- ’woman’ • Greek álochos ’wife’ < *sm-loghos ’lying together with’

  36. Flora and fauna (I) • Evidence from flora and fauna terminology is more useful. Cf. the cultural / mythological significance of the oak among Balto-Fennic peoples (most common surname in Estonia: Tamm ’oak’) compared to the fact that the oak is not indigenous to the areas where Balto-Fennic languages are now spoken

  37. Flora and fauna (II) • But note curious lacunae like: • - ’elder’ and ’water elder’, both indigenous to all widely proposed IE homelands. Why no common IE terms? • - ’sturgeon’. If indigenous to the black sea and South Russian / Ukrainian rivers, why no common IE term? • Not an isolated problems: same case with e.g. a lot of mammals like badger, fox, polecat etc. • Why?

  38. Flora and fauna (II) • Zsolt Simon (2008): ”How to find the Proto-Indo-European Homeland”. Acta Ant. Hung. 48, 289-303: • Terms for flora and fauna, too, can refer to species known by hearsay, from neighbouring or more remote populations; and ’salmon’ – what kind of salmon? We don’t know • However: • In popular taxonomy, terms do not necessarily refer to exact species in modern biological classfication. This makes it less of a goal to reconstruct words for certain species • Results become safer if plants and animals are grouped in semantic packages, certain groups that are more well-represented than others “a) complexity of terminologies pertaining to semantic fields”

  39. The elder • In popular taxonomy, the name of various Sambucus • species and Viburnum ebulus ’Danewort’ – these plants are not • very alike, but the confusion seems to be of at least • NW PIE age • Baltic *šeiva< PIE *k’eiH-uo- ’grey’ • Slavic *buzъ Turkic buz ’grey’ • Fenno-Permian *šewV  Baltic (Balto-Slavic) *šeiva • Fenno-Volgaic *šaršV  Baltic *šerš ’moldy’ • Germanic elder-names like Holunder < kel- ’black’ • and Flieder ? < *pelh1i- ’grey’ ~Slavic *plěšnĭ ‘mold’, Lith. pìlkas ‘grey’ • English elder and Mother Elder (‘the Old Lady’),reshaped from OE ellærn, partly after other tree-names in -der (cf. MLG elderne), corresponding to MLG alhorn. • Latin sambūcus, sabūcus, formally looks like ’sand’ + plant-suffix -ūcus

  40. The sturgeon (I) • c) Shared semantics of non-identical formations • If the Indo-European homeland was situated to the North of the Black Sea, the Indo-Europeans must have known several sturgeon species (in the Black Sea itself and the rivers to the North of it – but, curiously, theres is no common designation for the sturgeon in IE languages • Words for ’sturgeon’ in North and West IE are probably formentlig innovations derived of old material • Characteristics of the fish = scutes as back-fins. *ster- in Balto-Slavic and Germanic perhaps = the root *ster- ’stiff’ (cf. the stiff grass species Da. star = Nw. dial. finne ’carex’) • Common Balto-Slavic / Germanic / Latin / Proto-Fennic formation pattern ’sturgeon’ < ’sharp’ + ’fin’ or just ’(the fish with a characteristic) back-fin’, i.e. ’scute’

  41. The sturgeon (I) • Lat. aci-pēnser ’sturgeon’  aci- probably ’sharp, peak’ + pen- in penna, pinna ’fin’= PGmc. *finna-? Same type as accipiter? • Balto-Slavic: Slavic *asetr-, *esetr- >e.g. Czech jester; Lith. eškėtras,  ? *ak’- ’sharp, peak’ + -ster- (metatheses like these and intrusive -k- are common in Lith.) as in PGmc. • PGmc. *sturjō- ’sturgeon’ • Cf. Fi. sampi ’sturgeon’  ’back-fin of a fish’. Why ’sturgeon’? It has so-called scutes instead of proper back fins

  42. An Indo-European concept • * ’(enter into) an new expected phase’ (e.g. a human life phase, a phase of the moon, or a season of the year) • also ’(necessary) equipment used in a rite of passage between such phases’ • Passages of the year: E.g. new year, solstice, equinox • Etymological sources of denotations of this concept in individual IE languages: • *ar- or *H2er- ‘(1) fulfill, accomplish; enter into a new phase (2) take necessary precautions; equip, furnish; (>) arm’, perhaps identical to *H2er- ‘to fit, to link, to join together’ • *korH-u- ‘top, peak, crown’ • *H2ieu- ‘life, vital force, energy  youth; young’ • *kʷelh1- ‘turn (also of the year)’

  43. Meanings of Lithuanian šarvaĩ, šárvas, šar̃vas • 1a) discharge (after birth), placenta • 1b) menstruation • 1c) discharge (from the mouth of the dead)’ • 2a) armament • 2b) soldier’s outfit, weapons and ammunition • 2c) carapace • 3a) dowry • 3b) burial object • 3c) a kind of wagon; bottom board of a wagon • 4) the month of December (obsolete)

  44. Meanings of Lithuanian šarvaĩ, šárvas, šar̃vas (2) • The various meanings have been satisfactorily explained by Bernd Gliwa (2006) as from an earlier meaning *physical sign and ritual equipment in a rite of passage’. But he does not treat the older meaning ‘December’ mentioned in Brodowski’s Lexicon Lituanicum: • Formal correspondences: • Cretan Greek Dios-koúros‘6th month of the year’ • Greek koúrētes‘young men in their capacity as warriors’, guardians of the infant Zeus • korē‘young girl’ • korýssō ‘put on a helmet; arm, equip’  kory- ‘top’ • korý-bantes ‘armed dancers connected with the male child-to-adulthood passage’, lit. ‘going to the top (in a certain ritual)’ (= akro-bat-) • Old English hyrstian, hrystian (= Danish ruste) ‘arm, equip’

  45. Meanings of Indo-European words of the shape arma or the like (PIE *ar-mo-) • 1a) Hittite, Luvian arma- ‘moon(god); month’ • 2a) Hitt. armae-zi ‘to be pregnant’ • 2b) Delphish Greek arma ‘coitus’ • 3a) Hitt. ārmēš ʻpart of bullock-wagon’ • 3b) Mycenean Greek a-mo ‘wheel’, Greek hárma ‘wagon’ • 3c) Lithuanian armaĩ‘front axle on wagon’ • 4a) Lat. arma ‘weapons, weaponry, implements of war; tools’; • 4b) Epic Ionic Greek hármena ‘instruments, tools; sail, tackle; food’, Gk. arma ‘food’ • 5) Sogdian r’m ‘new year, first month of the year’ • 6) Umbrian arsmor ‘rite, ritual’

  46. Meanings of of Latin juv-, jūn- and Lithuanian jaun-, Slavic jun- (= Eng. young) • 1a) Latin Jūnō, a moon-goddess, probably  ‘the new moon’; she was the guardian deity of women, the foundress of marriage and the protecting goddess of lying-in women • 1b) Latin mensis jūnius ‘the month of June’ in which there were no particular holidays devoted to Juno • 1c) Lithuanian jaunáitis, jáunatis ‘new moon’; jaũnis ‘June’ • 2) Lith. jaunóji ‘bride’ • 3a) Latin juvenes, juventūs ‘band of young men of military age’,Umbrian iouies ‘warriors’, in a fixed phrase followed by hostat- anhostat- ‘armed or unarmed’ • 3b) Serbo-Croatian jùnâk ‘soldier; hero; young man’, Jug, a legendary figure connected with midsummer • 4) Jānus Jūnōnius ‘god of passages’

  47. Meanings of Greek telos (< *kʷelh-o-s ’turning’) • teleó-mēnos ‘with full complement of months’ • 2) ‘marriage rites; sacred rites’ • 3) In verbal derivatives ‘bring to birth’ • 4) ‘man’s full age, manhood; troops, army unit’ • 5) ‘end; death’

  48. Yuletide • *kʷelh1-o-s also meant ’cycle’ (like the reduplicated form • *kʷe-kʷl-o-s > English wheel, Greek kýklos,Sanskrit cákra-) • = 2nd part pf Germanic *jeuhla-, juhla- ’winter solstice’ (English yule, Danish jul), i.e. -hla. In older Germanic languages, this word was used as a name of the midwinter month. • But what is the *jeu- part? • The other solstice month was in Latin mensis jūnius which has been interpreted as ‘Juno’s month’ or ‘the month of the new moon’, but what about ‘the month of the (summer) solstice’? Cf. also the name of Jug, connected with midsummer • If so, *j(e)u-hla- < ’the turning point of the (winter) solstice’ or = Skt. cákram rtásya ’wheel of the year’?

  49. Turkic months of passage • Uighur aram • Hunno-Bulgarian alem • ‘first month of the year’ • have no counterparts in other Turkic languages and may be borrowings from Indo-European • Cf. Sogdian r’m