Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Indo-European and General Linguistics

First Written Languages in Greece · Indo-European Revisited : Family or Sprachbund? · Indo-European and General Linguistics

What is the relation between Sanskrit and ancient Greek/Latin (Indo-European family of languages)?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
none/ apprx Masters in Latin (language) & Greek (language), Lund University
St. Raphael's Day
According to the theory Indo-European languages descend from Proto-Indo-European, all three of these are sister languages, descending from Proto-Inod-European.

According to the other theory that Indo-European is a Sprachbund, or a series of Sprachbünder, they descend from languages spoken by same sets of bilinguals and trilinguals or more, in areas where they were neighbouring to each other.

Either way, their common ground needs a place not noted in most known history and before it, in which the speakers of what became these three languages were living together. The only difference is whether they spoke the same or different languages, whether it’s the differences or the commonalities that came through change.

When linguists call a language "proto-language", do they believe that before it humans weren't able to communicate?

Answer requested by
James Green

Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
No, they believe that it is “proto” in relation to a specific group of languages.

Proto-Indo-European is a reconstructed language believed by some to be “proto” in relation to all Indo-European languages. Its daughter languages in this theory are also proto-languages, of smaller groups, where I don’t doubt they are families:

  • proto-Celtic (with daughter languages like Irish and Welsh)
  • proto-Italic (with Latin and Romance langs)
  • proto-Germanic (with English, Swedish, German, Gothic as some daughter languages)

and each of them is “proto” in relation to that group.

If you are a Creationist believing in PIE, you believe basically, that the first speakers of one IE language were previously speaking Hebrew up to Babel.

I think it more likely different groups were immediately formed at Babel and afterwords influenced each other (though above three could all be daughter languages to “proto-Gomeric” involving also Hittite, but excluding Greek or Sanskrit or Slavonic)

If you are an Evolutionist believing in PIE, you probably think this is one branch of an even older proto-language, for instance proto-Nostratic has been proposed as ancestor to PIE and Proto-Uralic.

So whatever level you accept theorised proto-languages on, and whatever your belief system, it doesn’t mean anything like Adamic or like Human-emerging-from-Beast.

Why do most languages write through a system of words meaning something, and those words coming together to form a sentence? It seems like all languages I know follow this pattern, but is there a language that didn't use this system?

Answer requested by
Mark Omega

Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
No, there is not.

Even Greenlandic, which has lots of one word sentences (one base with very many endings) actually has sentences where there are words coming together.

All human languages, and no beast communications, follow the pattern of:

  • sentences are articulated into more than one morpheme (different words in Chinese, often single word with many endings in Greenlandic, more equal between word limits and endings in Latin);
  • morphemes are divided into more than one phoneme (which unlike the morpheme doesn’t mean anything).

Do we have any written records of proto Indo European languages?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
We neither have any written record of Proto-Indo-European (one language, supposed to be ancestral to Slavonic and Germanic, Latin, Greek and Sanskrit …) nor of languages that could have merged with each other into the Indo-European commonalities, according to the alternative theory of Trubetskoy.

Q to Y
In the following, the post will follow the format of a youtube commented on.

Learning Finnish: My First Steps
Jackson Crawford

5:42 "Swedish is more like Hindi than it is like Finnish"

Well, Swedish and Hindi are both Indo-European, but Swedish and Finnish have a long contact.

Not sure how much this plays out in vocabulary.

Learning Hindi is certainly not like learning Dutch (after knowing Swedish and German and starting English), and learning Finnish is certainly not like learning Dutch either.

I tried and gave up.

But which of the two has greater lexical similarity is not a given. I'd like someone to make some kind of statistic on that one.

I suspect it may turn out Finnish has more words in common with Swedish than Hindi has.

To illustrate the lexical similarity and dissimilarity of different groups within IE, I am through the first 32 entries in Pokorny, and the results are:

II 2/32 words with two groups
II + IX 11/32 words with three groups
I + III 4/32 words with four groups
VI 6/32 words with five groups
I + IV 5/32 words with six groups
1/32 words each with seven, eight, nine and ten groups.

2 + 11 + 4 + 6 + 5 + 4 = 32

16:56 In Greek genitive takes care of all "from" type cases. Also the case with Lithuanian.
And in Slavonic, like Polish, the masculine singular nouns have genitive and accusative the same if real males (otherwise nominative and accusative).

17:36 Last time I checked, Slavonic was one of the Indo-European groups.

And I am not sure what extra functions genitive might have in Hindi, while Modern Persian, through influence of Arabic, has an English / French type of syntax.

I think Hindi also has post-positions in preference to prepositions.

18:29 In Latin a partitive genitive can't be a standalone replacement for accusative or nominative, but you do have the partitive function.

Tres virum non consentierunt - three of the men disagreed. Virum or virorum = genitive plural in the partitive function.

Partitive genitive is used in replacement of accusative in both Lithuanian and Polish, it's just that it isn't distinct from genitive.

kavy, proszę / kavos, prašau = (of) coffee, please.

Very reminiscent of the Finnish, except that in Finnish the definite accusative coincides with genitive, as you said, so there is another form for the partitive.

If someone were to say "I don't drink coffee" (it would not be me), in Lithuanian or Polish, the negative object automatically triggers partitive genitive. Kavy in Polish or kavos in Lithuanian.

19:54 "from an Indo-European language perspective"

Sorry, you are confusing Indo-European with Euroversals, that being the Sprachbund between Germanic and Romance in Western Europe.

20:19 Finnish verbs ...
1) personal endings match more than one IE group except for 3rd plural
2) one kind of past tense matches Germanic and Slavonic far better than Greek, Latin or Sanskrit (all of them IE) do.

23:35 You'd have to admit, a parent language common to IE and to Uralic would pose problems for YEC, with Hittite and Mycenaean Greek appearing within a millennium from Babel ...

So, from a YEC perspective, it would make more sense if "me tarkenemme" (we are able to go outside when it's freezing) and Lithuanians answering "mes sušalome" (we are freezing) go back to a Sprachbund - which opens the way for "mes sušalome" and "παγωνουμε" (same meaning, unlike the Finnish one) to also go back to a Sprachbund. I. e. the IE group being a Sprachbund, not a family.

24:04 Add another one between Finnish and IE : 3rd sg has (long) vowel (in present indicative at least) both in Greek and in Lithuanian.

hän tarkenee
jis šąla

25:14 You just took up a similarity between Finnish and Celtic passives.

jag blir slagen
du blir slagen
han blir slagen

Minua hakataan
sinut hakataan
hänet lyödään

Buailtear mé
beidh tú buailte
buailtear é

While Google translate changed verb for Finnish, it changed construction for Irish Gaelic. But both languages have an impersonal passive with what would be more or less accusative pronouns for conjugation.

31:53 A case of "great minds think alike"
"Very" is etymologically from Old French "verai" - meaning, like "tosi" - "true"

But when Baltic, Slavic and Finno-Ugrian all pour up coffee in the partitive, it is to me clearly a case of Sprachbund. Not just "GMTA"

35:50 If this is so, that means that "-oppinen" more means "of a doctrine/learning" than "of an opinion" (despite similarity of sound).

Oikieakielinen, oikeamielinen, varsinkin oikeaoppinen (remains of my attempt to learn that brother language).
(correct grammar, correct action, foremost, orthodoxy)

37:37 IE langs all have gender? No....

Farsi has the same look in Arabic letters for the translation of "han kommer" as well as "hon kommer" ...

[It's some time since I forgot the Arabic alphabet, so I couldn't read how it's pronounced.]

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