Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Indo-European Revisited : Family or Sprachbund?

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

What is the ancient Indian language that has a lot of similarities with Latin and Greek languages? Why did it happen?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Studied Latin (language) at Lund University
Sep 7 2022
The language you think of is Sanskrit, or soemwhat older, Vedic, if you distinguish that from Sanskrit.

Why it happened that these three languages have these similarities is a question still not finally answered, since the reason is from some time before Greek, Latin and at last Sanskrit appear in writing.

Some think it is because they all descend from Proto-Indo-European, a single language, like Latin is a single language that French, Portuguese and Spanish descend from. The most famous proponents of the idea were Bopp, Grimm, and a few more.

Some think it is because they all (or remote ancestors) once were spoken in an area with languages fairly close to each other, like Greek, Turkish, Romanian and Bulgarian are all spoken in an area called the Balkans. The most famous proponent of this idea is Trubetskoy, who was the founder of the study of the Balkan languages.

Answered twice
A and B (and A will split into C and D before it reaches B)


Kosta Dean
Sep 8 2022
"…like Greek, Turkish, Romanian and Bulgarian are all spoken in an area called the Balkans" though that may be geographically true, the languages have no connection! And Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania historically came at much latter times than Greek.

But leaving that aside, I am curious to know (if you know) what Greek words, if any, derive from Vedic or Sanskrit? And not the other way?

Answered twice
C and D


Hans-Georg Lundahl
Sep 9 2022
The languages do have connexions!

They involve shared words (Greek has toufeki from Turkish) and also shared syntagms. Ethelo bainein = I want to go, infinitive. Now replaced by : Thelo na vehno = I want that I go, subordinate. Serb, Bulgarian, maybe Romanian too share that. For Turkish, I don’t know.

The second question is one type that Balkan linguists cannot always answer even for Balkan languages.

I am more interested in what restricted groups within the group share certain words (fish = piscis = iasc, Germanic, Italic, Celtic and that’s it for that word), and what groups of words are likely to come from the same language - like presumed *swesor from same language as gave suum, Gm sein; like pa-ter, ma-ter, fra-ter including same suffix as Greek comparative -teros, again also shared by Lat. al-ter, u-ter, Gmc ei-ther, o-ther.

Whichever explanation is correct, we deal with things before recorded texts and therefore with things we cannot trace to just one specific language by it being earliest at recording a word in a text.

Kosta Dean
Sep 9 2022
Such word borrowings came much later in History. And that is normal and understandable. But the languages (Greek, Turkish, Bulgarian) are inherently different and not connected!

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Sep 9 2022
In the Balkan case, indeed, the word borrowing came later in history.

You think Lithuanian and Attic have all that much in common?

Lithuanian has one past tense, plus an iterative version of it. Passive or Medium? Add -s to the verb.

Attic had Aorist, Imperfect, Pluperfect and often Present Perfect was used as a past tense too. Medium has special endings, and passive is expressed either by Medium endings or by special stems before Active endings.

Bulgarian and Modern Dhimotiki Greek have more in common than these, not just words.

Kosta Dean
Sep 9 2022
Bulgarian is Slavic. Greek is Greek! It derives from ancient Greek.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Sep 9 2022
Yes and Lithuanian is Balto-Slavic, and Attic is ancient Greek.

The point being that Bulgarian and Modern Greek have more in common than Lithuanian and Ancient Attic. And once again, not just in vocabulary.

Or for that matter, Bulgarian and Romanian have more in common than Ukrainean and Spanish.

Also, not just in vocabulary (neither Ukrainean, nor Spanish has definite articles affixed at the end of words).

Instead of repeating commonplaces and labels, however valid and true as if the repetition proved your point, how about seeing how the argument affects the point?


Hans-Georg Lundahl
Sep 9 2022
If you want words originating in Greek, I suggest the ones that are to this day (apart from learned words) unique to Greek.

For instance, like Greeks didn’t first lose “mare” and then pick up “thalassa” but were into “thalassa” or earlier perhaps *thalatya from start.

Kosta Dean
Sep 9 2022
What I am looking for actually are loan words in Greek from Vedic and Sanskrit. Which can be proven to be Vedic or Sanskrit and not Greek. Know any?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Sep 9 2022
No. Why do you think that should be a criterium for my theory?

It’s the kind of thing you often can test on the Balkans, because at least two languages (Modern Greek / Romanian) have prestages recorded from before the situation.

A lack of such records excludes that kind of proof.

Kosta Dean
Sep 9 2022
I was not thinking about "your theory"! I was thinking about "my idea"! Namey, what common cognates may exist between Greek and Sanskrit/Vedic could as likely have come from Greek. Certainly through Alexander the Great conquests. But I think even earlier than that since the Neolithic Aegens are known to have immigrated in many places in the ancient world. As fir example Europe, the UK, the Levant, Northern Africa and Egypt.

If there are word, however, that are clearly Sanskrit/Vedic in Greek, that would disprove this.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Sep 9 2022
I think Πατέρας and pita(r) were in place before Alexander the Great, and someone who at first thought Old Cretan was Aryan had identified Mount Ida as Mount Indra … he later took back that theory.

Kosta Dean
Sep 9
Point well taken. How far back does 'patera' in Sanskrit go? Greek misionaries were known to have been in Persia well before Alexander. And I suspect Neolithic Aegean, following the Bronze Age Collapse, likely travels as far East as they are known to have traveled West. The distinction between the Brahmin class in North India from the South Indians may be due to this. As possibly the entire caste system of India. As such ethnic/genealogy may have separated various groups living in India. The DNA studies also show greater affinities of North Indians with Aegean/Anatolian/Persian groups.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Sep 10 2022
It so happens, no words in Sanskrit or Prakrit can be documented as going back before the time of Ashoka - after the Greeks.

Because it seems the idea of writing was invented in India only after they came.

Kosta Dean
Sep 10 2022
Thank you for that fact! This supports my thoughts on this! Can you give me some references? What about Vedic?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Sep 13 2022
Brahmic scripts - Wikipedia

Vedic is supposed to be older in the sense of religious texts being older, and it is supposed to be older in the oral tradition, probably is, but neither Sanskrit nor Vedic had any texts beyond epigraphy (doesn’t that translate directly as “on-writing” from Greek?) older than Ashoka’s edict which was in the vernacular of his time, namely Pali.

// Early works of Sanskrit literature were transmitted through an oral tradition[d] for centuries before they were written down in manuscript form.[8][9][10] //

Sanskrit literature - Wikipedia

That means all the Classical and before that Vedic stuff.

Kosta Dean
Sep 13 2022
That is very interesting! But what are the arguments of such oral tradition dating to 1500 BC? Further and more interesting, how can we know when a specific word in Sanskrit originated? It could just as likely originated in the time period when Sanskrit acquired a written form. And that, as you say, postdates Alexander the Great and the Greeks!

Hans-Georg Lundahl
If “pita(r)” had been a loan from Greek, it would have been “pate(r)” since both vowels exist in Sanskrit, just changing the declinsion.

First vowel is considered as going back to schwa Indo-Germanicum by Indo-Europeanists, becoming short i in Sanskrit, but short a in Greek, while a Sanskrit short a is cognate, typically, with a Greek epsilon or omicron, if the word is available in both languages.

The Indo-European commonalities between Greek and Sanskrit can be traced to either a common mother tongue or a common neighbourhood in pre-history, before either language was written, but not to Alexander the Great.

Kosta Dean
I agree that “pita(r)” predates Alexander the Great! But for a very different reason. Since such basic 'primitive' word likely was well entranched in the spoken language! It would not likely be a loan word from Greek in Alexander's time. Whether the similarity is due to a common PIE language, or what and who spoke this, remains for me an open question.

But linguistic arguments about the shifts of sounds of specific letters, or their existence in a language, is too narrow and esoteric argument to account for the organic dynamics of the formation and alternation of specific words. We have to consider the sound of the whole word, and how that sound could be transformed to fit the linguistic propensities of a people and their language. Since words are the foundations of a language and not letters used to render them in written form.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Loan giver and loan receiver usually do have a certain similarity at the time of the loan in pronouncing it.

Except when correspondences between many words already exist.

If Swedish were to borrow “lagkage” from Danish, “kage” would be rendered “kaka” - as the simplex “kage” and “kaka” are already known to be the same word. But if “kaka” had not existed in Swedish, and it had been recently borrowed from Danish, it would very probably have as well been “kaka” (feminine, as per extant word, plural “-or”) or “kake” (masculine, plural “-ar” - both plurals “-er” in Danish) as with a g, since there are words where Danish intervocalic g corresponds to Swedish intervocalic k and so on for the other stops (which are fricatives in Danish, when intervocalic, simple and voiced).

So, without other words that Greek and Sanskrit had in common with Greek short alpha corresponding to Sanskrit shirt i, the Greek “pater” would have been borrowed as “pate(r)” (possibly patar in analogy with other words ending in -a(r), and not “pita(r)”).

But your reason is not very convincing, unless we take it as being about the shortness of the Greek presence.

Gothic and Hittite clearly have the same words as certain Turkic and Uralic languages for father, namely “atta” / “attas” … so clearly borrowing is possible. Greek may not have borrowed from French for Ξαδέλφια, but English borrowed from French for Cousin.

Kosta Dean
I agree some words similar in both Greek and Sanskrit predate Alexander. Many of these words were likely spoken by Neolithic people, since such words would describe the life and world of Neolithic people. These words I refer to as 'primitive'.

What I find most interesting is that many of such 'primitive' words in English (and other European languages) have ancient Greek roots! Of course, the argument can be made that such words have a common PIE substrate language. That these are "siblings".

But here is the problem with that argument. Some of these 'primitive' words are compound Greek words! They have 'original meaning' only in Greek and not in any other language. Therefore they must have originated in ancient Greek or proto-Greek.

Here is an example. The word "stars" (clearly 'primitive') in Greek is "asteria". This is a compound Greek word, "a"(not)+"steria"(earth, ground). Thus in Greek "asteria" means what are "not of the earth"! Which, of course, is what "stars" are! Its thus likely "stars" derives from "asteria". And these words are not "siblings" but "parent-child".

I can give you many other such examples of 'primitive' words which clearly defy the "common substrate language" explanation!

Hans-Georg Lundahl
“Many of these words were likely spoken by Neolithic people, since such words would describe the life and world of Neolithic people.”

It seems the word Χείρ - modern Greek Χέρι - is shared with anything Indo-European East of Greece - Hittites, Armenians, Iranians, Indians, perhaps Tocharic and Albenese too.

But Neolithic as it may be, people in the Neolithic clearly did have hands, anything far North of West of Greece has other words. Italic / Latin has “manus,” Celtic has lam - either version “llaf” in Welsh or version “lamh” in Irish, Germanic has “hand” and Baltic and Slavic share ranka (as the word is in Lithuanian).

“What I find most interesting is that many of such 'primitive' words in English (and other European languages) have ancient Greek roots! Of course, the argument can be made that such words have a common PIE substrate language. That these are ‘siblings’.”

Substrate is not usually used that way. If a language is accepted in a new area, or by a new population “substrate” is used of the socially lower older language that will influence how it is spoken there, or by them.

“But here is the problem with that argument. Some of these 'primitive' words are compound Greek words! They have 'original meaning' only in Greek and not in any other language. Therefore they must have originated in ancient Greek or proto-Greek.”

O … K …

“Here is an example. The word "stars" (clearly 'primitive') in Greek is "asteria". This is a compound Greek word, "a"(not)+"steria"(earth, ground).”

Wrong analysis.

The Semitic word for the evening star is Ishtar / Astarte. Also name of a goddess - Aphrodite, Venus.

Several IE language branches very early borrowed this as the generic word for star. This includes Latin where “stella” = “sterula” = originally “little star”

Kosta Dean
"Many" does not mean "all"! Obviously, northern Europe experienced migrations of various peoples at latter times from the Neolithic Aegean first settlers that east of Greece had not! And with each such mass migration we get the influence of their language. So your (under) "hand" example proves nothing. It does not negate anything I argue!

As for my "stars" claim, why "wrong analysis"? The compound Greek word "asteria" I argue "stars" derives from has the 'original meaning' (not of the earth) that explicitly describes the original experience of people that coined the word.

What is such 'original meaning' for the goddess name Ishtar? Besides, before naming gods and goddesses people obviously first named objects arround them! The name Ishtar likely came after the coining of the primitive word for stars. It may have been named for "star" rather than star named after Ishtar.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
St. Raphael
“What is such 'original meaning' for the goddess name Ishtar?”

It is the evening star - and the goddess of love.

And in a language where “a-steria” is not available, which is anyway not available as original form in Greek, since it is a modern Greek remodelling of aster.

Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Grammar

ἀστήρ star has gen. ἀστέρος, dat. ἀστέρι, dat. pl. ἀστράσι.

Etymology or original meaning unknown.

It begins with an I- in Akkadian (the ancient Semitic language of Babylon: Ishtar) but with an A- in Canaanean / Phoenician (Astarte).

It is not the word for star in general:

// Instead, the nouns commonly translated as “star” in English, Sumerian mul = Akkadian kakkabu, refer to a full range of observed astronomical phenomena including the fixed stars but also constellations, planets, mirages, comets, shooting stars, etc.7 juli 2014 //

Mesopotamian Star Lists | SpringerLink

Phoenician would have same word for star as Hebrew. Here is stars in the plural:

hak·kō·w·ḵā·ḇîm - not Ishar

“Obviously, northern Europe experienced migrations of various peoples at latter times from the Neolithic Aegean first settlers that east of Greece had not! And with each such mass migration we get the influence of their language.”

How many do you think there were? Either way, the idea negates the idea of Proto-Indo-European, since that is supposed to have arrived with mass migrations.


Mr. Flibble
Sep 9 2022
There is no doubt that Sanskrit, like other Indo-Iranian languages, shares a common ancestor with other Indo-European languages as a whole. The evidence at this point is so vast and extensive as to be incontrovertible.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Sep 9 2022
Pieces of evidence being vast and extensive doesn’t by itself suffice to make a proof incontrovertible.

Mr. Flibble
Sep 9 2022
If you want to be pedantic, I guess I should’ve said “nearly incontrovertible.”

My point was that all the evidence points toward the shared origin of Indo-Aryan languages with all the other subfamilies of Indo-European. The overwhelming consensus is that all are descended from a common ancestor, and there’s a mountain of evidence behind it. That’s why I was a bit shocked that you seemed to be suggesting that the possibility of the connection being the result of areal features was even worth considering.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Sep 9 2022
Not even nearly.

“all the evidence points toward”

A stick pointing straight in one direction usually points as straight into the opposite one.

“The overwhelming consensus”

is highly irrelevant to questions of truth.

The question isn’t : “is there little or lots of evidence which can be interpreted as common ancestor” but “how much of the evidence pointing to a common ancestor can equally be interpreted about areal features” - obviously “far” in the past (as far as beyond the earliest written records, and some) and in areas where certain languages neighbouring each other then are no longer there.

Both hypotheses involve speakers of a language ancestral to Greek neighbouring speakers of a language ancestral to Sanskrit : they differ on whether the language ancestral to Sanskrit and the one ancestral to Greek are the same or not.

Mr. Flibble
Sep 9 2022
How would you explain the plethora of shared core vocabulary and morphological features? The extent of the borrowing which would’ve taken place would’ve had to have been so immense that it effected even the most basic parts of the lexicon. Sure it’s possible, but from what information we have it is very unlikely. Furthermore, you’re singling out one subfamily among a multitude which all share the aforementioned vocabulary and ascribing the borrowing to have only gone one direction(at least that’s how I interpreted what you were saying), which seems like poor methodology when it comes to comparative linguistics.

Even in known sprachbunds comprised of languages from unrelated families the extent of lexical borrowing doesn’t reach the level to which your proposed scenario would require. In lue of direct evidence of such extensive borrowing, a healthy dose of Occam’s razor is warranted.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Sep 9 2022
“the plethora of shared core vocabulary”

Feet are largely but not universally shared (noga is not a form of pedem / poda). Hands are nearly never shared (manus = mund = Ir. mun).

Noses, eyes and ears are shared - but heads aren’t.

Numerals one to ten, twenty, hundred are shared. How you combine numerals above ten, how you say thousand isn’t.

“The extent of the borrowing which would’ve taken place would’ve had to have been so immense that it effected even the most basic parts of the lexicon.”

In fact, English and Russian share as much vocabulary as Arabic and Farsi.

As some elementary vocabulary of Farsi is Arabic due to Islam, some of the shared parts of vocabulary in IE seem possible to account for as sacrificial terms. Hearts, livers and kidneys do play a role in augury.

As one of the more widely shared words is the one for wheel, this could have been borrowed along with the thing.

Horses, sheep, swine and oxen are more likely to be sacrificed than cereals, and are also more widely shared vocabulary.

“and morphological features”

Let me remind you that you find nearly all persons (five out of six forms) in Finnish, as to the present active forms (Latin, Greek, Lithuanian). Are you proposing Nostratic as well?

“Furthermore, you’re singling out one subfamily”

Never said that - took the pair Greek and Sanskrit as example valid as parallel for most other pairs of subfamilies.

“among a multitude which all share the aforementioned vocabulary”

They do certainly not share all of it.

Fish (English)
Piscis (Latin)
Iasc (Old Irish)

For father, you have pater families and you have atta families, and Germanic is divided, if you consider Gothic is an atta language. Plus Welsh Tad, Lithuanian Tevas, Slavic Otak / Otats seem even more odd.

“and ascribing the borrowing to have only gone one direction(at least that’s how I interpreted what you were saying),”

Again, I never said that either, how about telling me what words of mine you interpreted that way?

“which seems like poor methodology when it comes to comparative linguistics.”

Indeed it would have been.

“Even in known sprachbunds comprised of languages from unrelated families the extent of lexical borrowing doesn’t reach the level to which your proposed scenario would require.”

Exactly what level of lexical borrowing do you ascribe to my theory? Or scenario?

Are you reading into it the supposition you are yourself using for deriving all subgroups from one family with one vocabulary?

Because lexical similarity is very incomplete between subgroups, and I am not saying it was greater in a far off past.

Plus the known Sprachbunds are usually from historic times and each usually has literary forms and language cousins elsewhere.

Think more of how Romanian has fared, with no written Latin as high language, cut off from even Italian : it is far from mainly Romance in traditional vocabulary. Marius Sala in 1988 examined 2581 words which divide as follows:


71,66 % romanische Elemente, darunter

30,33 % lateinischen Erbwortschatz
22,12 % französische Entlehnungen
15,26 % lateinische Entlehnungen
3,95 % italienische Entlehnungen
24,68 % innersprachliche Wortbildungen

14,24 % slawische Elemente, darunter

9,18 % altslawische Entlehnungen
2,67 % bulgarische Entlehnungen
1,12 % russische Entlehnungen
0,85 % serbokroatische Entlehnungen
0,23 % ukrainische Entlehnungen
0,19 % polnische Entlehnungen
2,47 % deutsche Entlehnungen

1,7 % griechische Entlehnungen

0,96 % thrako-dakisches Substrat

1,43 % ungarische Entlehnungen

0,73 % türkische Entlehnungen

0,07 % englische Entlehnungen

0,19 % Lautmalereien

2,71 % unbekannter Ursprung[21]


Given that, are the mutual borrowings I sugest really that unrealistic?

If I take away the more recent Romance loans from both the Romance portion and the Total, the heritage from Latin was previous to them just above 49 %.

Remember, this is of a representative vocabulary of 2581 words.

Also remember, I think some subgroups, perhaps all, have been in more than one Sprachbund, successively, before emerging in writing.


“In lue of direct evidence”

While I disagree on the sentiment, see above, you will perhaps allow me to correct the wording. You mean “barring direct evidence” - since “in lieu of” doesn’t mean “barring” but “instead of”.

Mr. Flibble
Sep 9 2022
I’m sorry for misinterpreting some of your statements. I didn’t intend to put words in your mouth. That was a fault on my part. I apologize.

Part of my reaction may have been the result of dealing with so many people on this site who will espouse seemingly far-fetched positions and then have nothing upon which to support their argument. It was wrong of me to suppose that of you.

After reading through your last reply, I will say that you make a compelling argument in favor of the sprachbund approach to the genesis of Indo-European languages, and I tentatively will even admit there may be some degree of such within its daughter languages tracing back to the proposed timeframe of initial differentiation. However, as a whole I simply cannot reconcile it as being definitive enough to warrant the existence of the various subdivisions of Indo-European as not ultimately being of genetic relationship.

Nonetheless, I do want to thank you for your well-though-out and detailed responses. It has been very informative. My best regards! :)

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Sep 10 2022
You are welcome!

Did the ancient Celts speak a form of proto-Celtic or Proto-Gaelic before they split into different languages (Irish, Welsh, Breton)?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
Oct 1 2022
Irish and Scots Gaelic are both (with Manx) modern forms of Old Goidelic - an attested language.

Welsh and Breton are both (with Cornish) modern forms of Old Brythonic.

Whether there was a time when Brythonic or P-Celts and Goidels or Q-Celts spoke a common language (with Q, not P) or not is somewhat difficult to know. Cunliffe considered Celtic started out as a Sprachbund along the Atlantic Coast of Europe, and with Indo-European contributions only part of the mix. In that case, the ancestors of Goidelic and those of Brythonic may never have merged completely, only got closer.

It can be noted that while Old Gaulish seems close to Old Brythonic, the word order is different, the Insular Celtic languages have some influence from what could be a Semitic language - verb first in the sentence and conjugation of prepositions.

What language is most similar to Proto-Indo-European, Germanic or Slavic?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Studied Latin (language) at Lund University
Oct 1 2022
I do not claim to know if Proto-Indo-European ever existed.

According to my Professor of Greek, a linguist put that in doubt. His name was Trubetskoy. But according to the same Prof. Blomqvist, Balto-Slavic could be the very latest stage of Indo-European, while Germanic only had (last time he checked) 20 % Indo-European vocabulary.



Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
Oct 3 2022
If the idea of PIE is correct (which I think it isn’t), all of these language families (or at least most) split off from it:

Italic (with Latin and Romance as surviving now)
Greek (yes, it’s a family)
Armenian (a family with one member)

of those that are still there, and also:


of which the last three just might have Albanian as survivor.

And, if the idea of PIE is not correct, then all of above actual language families influenced each other so that the Indo-European mega-group is a Sprachbund rather than a Family.

Iranic* not Iranian. Those are different terms. Iranian refers people of today’s Iran. Iran was not the center of Iranic people. And just a small percentage of them are descendant of Iranic people. Tajiks are pure iranic people with higher R1a y dna.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Thank you for the correction on terminology.

What is the most likely origin of a word in an Indo-European language?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
In any given language, the origins are:

  • Indo-European commonalities however these came about
  • language branch proper twists on such
  • language branch proper words not such commonalities
  • loans, from more recent cultural contacts.

The proportions differ between the languages. I don’t think the commonalities are above 50 % in any of them. For both Greek and Germanic, my professor of Greek considered Indo-European heritage at c. 20 % - but I have heard on the internet that later research has put many words earlier considered proper to Germanic into the category Germanic proper twists on Indo-European material.

Do you think Germanic weak preterite ending -de / -ede (in Modern English -d or -ed) and the word “do”/”tun” are likely to be connected to “tithemi” in Greek which means “put”?

Was Proto-Indo-European a more advanced form of communication compared to native European languages?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
There are no such things as advanced communication or primitive communication in human languages.

Greenlandic used to lack words for sheep, bricks and mortar, Coke, now arguably has words for all three, but that is not a more advanced communication, that’s adapting to a changing culture.

The Greenlandic grammar is neither more primitive nor more advanced than any other.

Now, back to Proto-Indo-European, or supposed such.

According to the current theory, people speaking it were more advanced in cavalry or war chariot driving than people in Europe outside their homeland, and so they came to Europe more or less as Spaniards came to Perú and Méjico. Spanish didn’t spread there because Spanish is a more advanced or less advanced form of communication than Quechua (I mean the language, not the sportsgear). Or than Aymara, second language of the Inca Empire. It spread, like Christianity, because Spaniards had guns.

Quechua and Aymara have remained alive up to now because indigenous peoples weren’t all that welcome into Spanish society, had big lifestyle changes to make and especially were excluded if not Christian. While speakers of Quechua and Aymara may well in individual cases be Catholic, their survival owes sth to the nostalgia for the old religion.

So, according to the current theory, which I don’t share, at least I doubt it, the previous languages are now disappeared because Indo-European languages are in Europe for longer than Spanish has been in Perú.

There is another option. Germanic and Romance are far more different from each other than Germanic from Germanic as in English from German, or Romance from Romance as in French from Romanian. But they are also far more similar to each other now than they started out as Latin and Proto-Germanic, back 2000 years ago, when the first contact was made basically in Julius Caesar’s time, when he stopped a Germanic invasion led by Ariovistus into Gaul, after first stopping a Helveto-Celtic one led by Orgetorix. At this time he was not yet pretending to rule Gaul as conqueror, except the South part which had been conquered centuries earlier, he was simply helping out the friendly tribe North of the frontier, the Aedui.

The kind of mutual influence that West Germanic languages and Western Romance languages have had on each other (both take definite articles, and these before the noun, neither started out having them 2000 years ago, both rely heavier on word order than on cases, and all Western Romance most West Germanic languages have lost case endings and case distinctions even into the article : Netherlands has gendered and numbered articles, but no longer cased ones and English doesn’t even have a gendered and numbered one - the exception is German, but many cases coincide so word order is even so necessary). Well, there is a name for it. Sprachbund. And the similarities between Indo-European languages across the “branches” (like Italic-Romance, like Germanic, like Slavic, like Baltic, like Celtic) are no bigger than languages acquire by Sprachbund phenomena. At least quantitatively.

If Indo-European mega-group is a Sprachbund rather than a family, we need not consider Indo-European came by bloody conquest.

Do any other modern Indo-European languages sound like Proto-Indo-European (PIE)?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
PIE is not a modern Indo-European language, unless you count the various conlangs that are constructions considered as reconstructions of PIE.

No modern IE language sounds like PIE.

Languages can have very similar sound and yet be very different. I heard someone speak a language which I thought was Danish - until I came closer and heard that I couldn’t understand the words and saw the speakers were from the Indian continent. I have forgotten which Indian language it was, it is very different from Danish, but it sounds similar.

The one language which sounds a bit like one of the reconstructions of PIE is Hittite.

Schleicher and Meillet made reconstructions of PIE that do not sound very Hittite, but Panu Höglund or someone else in Finland, made one which sounds a bit like Hittite. And Hittite has not been spoken for 3000 years, apart from academics and geeks interested in the discovery.

Did Proto-Indo-European have a formal “you”?

Answer requested by
Jakub Kacprzak

Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
Proto-Indo-European is a reconstructed language.

This means, supposing it existed, it is unknown except for the reconstructed parts that have been pieced together by comparing different words, endings, usages of endings, in different extant languages.

If it had a formal you, if it had different forms for all pronouns depending on who was speaking to whom, like Japanese, if it had no specifically honorific or casual forms, we have not seen any reconstruction of that so far. Piecing together the Germanic first and second persons plural with the ones of other IE languages, like Slavic or Latin is a bit of a conundrum, it could perhaps be solved by considering Latin “vos” as “vosotros” and Germanic “ye” as “Ustedes” - but why is there also a difference in first person plural? And why do we have no honorific for the singular?

If you believe the Indo-European languages are a family, perhaps you can propose that Germanic 1st and 2nd plural are honorifics and the forms in Latin and Slavic are casual, if you like. If that were the case, it would have meant evening out in both languages and using only one of them. Or in all three language families. Unlike PIE, I do not doubt there was a Proto-Germanic, or a Proto-Slavic or a Proto-Italic at some point.

No comments: