Fjordman’s latest essay — on Indo-European languages, one of my favorite topics — has been posted at the Brussels Journal. Some excerpts are below:
Since I have written several essays about the Indo-European language family I can sum up what I have found so far. Interesting things happened in Europe long before the Greeks and the Romans entered the scene. One of the hypotheses presented in my writings is that culture is the product of genes plus ideas. Since most of our genes date back to the Stone Age, you could successfully claim that our culture indirectly has roots dating back to that era. However, one the most ancient parts of the European cultural heritage still used is the language.
Modern English, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Italian and Russian have roots back to the Late Neolithic and are all derived from a single mother language that is referred to as Proto-Indo-European. This is universally accepted, but where and when this language was initially spoken is more controversial. I belong to those who support the theory that PIE was originally spoken north of the Black Sea in what is today the Ukraine and southern Russia by 3500 BC, when the first expansion began with the introduction of wheeled vehicles. David W. Anthony writes about this subject in his book The Horse, the Wheel, and Language.
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The PIE language which has been reconstructed by linguists over the past two centuries contains words for a technological package that according to archaeological evidence existed after 4000 BC. An early form may have existed just prior to this and a late form after 3000 BC, at which point PIE was breaking apart. Scholars J. P. Mallory and D. Q. Adams explain in The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World:
“[I]ndividual Indo-European groups are attested by c. 2000 BC. One might then place a notional date of c. 4500-2500 BC on Proto-Indo-European….By c. 2000 BC we have traces of Anatolian, and hence linguists are willing to place the emergence of Proto-Anatolian to c. 2500 BC or considerably earlier. We have already differentiated Indo-Aryan in the Mitanni treaty by c. 1500 BC so undifferentiated Proto-Indo-Iranian must be earlier, and dates on the order of 2500-2000 BC are often suggested. Mycenaean Greek, the language of the Linear B tablets, is known by c. 1300 BC if not somewhat earlier and is different enough from its Bronze Age contemporaries (Indo-Iranian or Anatolian) and from reconstructed PIE to predispose a linguist to place a date of c. 2000 BC or earlier for Proto-Greek itself.”
Greek, the Indo-European language of the palace-centered Bronze Age warrior kings who ruled at Mycenae and other strongholds, is attested in the mid-second millennium BC. The breakthrough in the decipherment of the Linear B tablets was made by the Englishmen Michael Ventris (1922-1956) and John Chadwick (1920-1998) in the early 1950s. Ventris was himself surprised to discover that the language in question was a very early form of Greek.
Read the rest at the Brussels Journal.