Fjordman: The Indo-European Languages: A Summary

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.

9 thoughts on “Fjordman: The Indo-European Languages: A Summary

  1. “The earliest references to Albanian are found in the fourteenth century AD.”

    I dislike Albania and thus will let Fjordman know through this comment that I highly doubt that Albanian is Indo-European.
    I have never seen a comprehensible study that proved the Indo-European root of Albanian. And, by the way, most Albanians of today are just Greeks and Serbians “Albanised” as the first “Albanian” in the XIX century was just around one third Albanian.

    (Some of) My arguments:

    One, Albanian appears in the late XIV century, pratically during the rennascence and while there was still a Byzantine “Roman” entity alive. From where did it come from?
    From where, since Illyrian was extinct for ages and once it is not neither Greek nor Latin?

    Then, why does an entity in the Caucasus called Albania exist? Why did they cease to exist when the Ottoman Turks / Arabs conquered the region? Why do an Albanian entity later appear in Europe under Ottoman Turkick power and why does it happen to appear in an area of Europe that was most changed demographically by the Turks?

    The Albanians call themselves “Shqiptar” and their land “Shqipteria”. That that sound European to you? Does that sound “Albania”, which is pratically Latin (Alba + ia = Land of the Whites or Land of Whiteness in Latin).

    Again, why did Caucasian Albania – also a foreign name – exist dominated by the Mount Aron with its perpetual sknows on its top? That is a Land of Whiteness.

    And the most disturbing. If Shiqpteria or whatever those barbarians – in the Greek sense of the word transmutated into a Indo-European one – call it does not sound European, why does it sound so “Caucasian”.
    Go see how the Chechens and Cherkess call themselves. It is surprisingly close to Shqipteria.

    And meanwhile, most of the name places in Albanian are loan words of Slavic or Greek origin, which leads one to seriously believe that the Albanians came to that place after the Slavs – which came in Historical times, during the IX century or whatever.

    Albanian as Indo-European is very strange indeed.

  2. Again, @ Fjordman.

    “As a consequence, Celtic place-names abound from Portugal to Poland. The name of the province of Galicia in northern Spain is definitely a Celtic one. The province of Galicia in southern Poland and western Ukraine may be so, too. The Celtic root of Gal-, indicating “Land of the Gaels or Gauls,” occurs in Portugal (possibly), Galicia in Spain, Gallia (Gaul), Pays des Galles (Wales) and in distant Galatia in Asia Minor. The western Celts called themselves Cymry or “compatriots,” but were dubbed Welsh or “foreigners” by their Germanic-speaking Anglo-Saxon neighbors in medieval times.”

    Well, both Portuguese and “Galicians” (or Galegos) call the region “Galiza” instead of Galicia.
    It is probabily Celtic although I had never thought about it or read it, it makes perfect sense.

    Galiza or in Latin (I thought it was Latin) “Galaecia” or “Calaecia” was the region of present day Galiza, North of Portugal, where the Portuguese language was formed and from which PortuGAL – or the County of PortuCALE (Condado PortuCALENSE) – is derived as well as the region of Northern Portugal North of Douro river that constitutes about 40% of the countrie’s population.

    We have some Celtic major place names that remind me of Galicia/Galiza/Calaecia:

    Caeliobricoi, today a small village somewhere in Northern Portugal in what was Southern Galaecia, today called Castro Daire.
    Castro is a current surname and was also an ancient Celtic fortification in a hill. Abundant in ancient Galiza and rare outside of it, but existing also in Central Portugal and Northern Spain. Castro Daire would mean in Portuguese something like Castro of Air or Airs, something that the populars will say instead of wind or fresh air. The village started actually from an ancient Celtic fortification in the top of a mountain.

    Conimbriga – Coimbra, our fourth major city. Great Roman centre also.

    Caetobriga – Today Setúbal, in Southern Portugal.

    Also, if the Celts called themselves Cymri, in the extreme South of Portugal there were some tribes apparently called “Celtici” (probabily Latinised) and “Cynetts”

    Just as a curious note: Ancient Celtic Galiza’s southern boundary was the Douro river. South from it lied Lusitania.

    The Douro or Duero river goest through most of Northern Spain and Portugal and has its mouth in the Oporto city. The Port Wine is made in its Portuguese margins and recieves the name Port because it was shipped in the city of Porto or Oporto. Anyway, it can be successfully argued that that river is the most beautifull of all Iberia.
    It’s name says it all: Douro or Duero.
    In Portuguese Douro is just how you say de ouro “of Gold (made)”.
    In Spanish Duero is probabily the same De oro = Duero because in the North, especially in the Northwest of the Peninsula they add is and es. And thus ouro (gold) becames oiro or loura (blonde) becames loira.

    In latin times, the river was called Durius.
    I learned reccently that “Dur” is the Celtic root for watter.

  3. “Modern-day Spain and Portugal have a complex linguistic history. The Iberian language, a non-Indo-European tongue, went extinct during the Roman period. Celtic was spoken in the north before the Roman conquest and Germanic afterward.”

    While what you say is true, it would be even more true to say that:

    Iberian was only spokein in the South (Andalusia) and the East.
    Celtic was spoken in all the rest, especially the North and West. And in the Northeast it blended with Iberian.

    Germanic languages were never spoken at large. Only the Germanic elites spoke it and they adopted Latin and the vernacular Roman languages faily quickily.
    Probabily, English enjoys today a wider knowledge here than any other Germanic language before it.

    Semitic tongues were never much spoken, except for Arabic in the South in the late epochs of the Reconquista (since the XIV century). Carthaginians had only small costal entreposts and were utterly destroyed by the Romans; Jews developed their own mixed language, like a Latin Yidish.
    While the Arabs and Berbers of the Islamic period were a minority and the Christian dihimis – and since the epoch of the Taifas (various independent muslim Kingdoms) also the local Ruler elites – spole Mozarabic, a romance language with only loan words from the Arabic (like we today have lone words from English to describe innovations like telefone, marketing or video).

    Of course the Basques have always been here. But they have receeded a lot.

    “In Old Norse, rune meant “inscription” or “mystery.” Runes are attested in Central Europe, Britain, Scandinavia and later Iceland from the 1st century AD to the 1600s for specialized purposes such as short inscriptions on weapons and in the sphere of cult and magic…”

    About the Scandinavian runic alphabet. We have a region that was constantly attacked by Vikings during the reconquista in which the Fishermen develop among other strange things this kind of writing system.

  4. “One, Albanian appears in the late XIV century, pratically during the rennascence and while there was still a Byzantine “Roman” entity alive. From where did it come from?
    From where, since Illyrian was extinct for ages and once it is not neither Greek nor Latin?”

    It was first attested in the 14th century, that doesn’t mean it just appeared out of nowhere. Languages are still being discovered today but that doesn’t mean they’ve just appeared.
    It’s called part of the Illyrian branch, that doesn’t mean it descended from Illyrian, just that it’s related to it. There’s still some speculation that it might be related to Thracian instead.

  5. Illyrians is a word for whole group of ancient peoples (not necessarily connected by language or ethnicity) in that area.

    At best, Illyrian language could be called a proto-language working theory.

  6. So, it was first attested in late 1300s but there is no trace of it whatsoever since the late 800s. That’s a bit odd. Did they developed a language out of nowhere in that time? If yes, how come that language is Indo-European?
    Specially considering that that region was during that time subject of a vicious Christian presence (that more or less documented what they encountered): From Byzantium and from the Slavs.

    And Illyrian and Thracian languages disappear due to the local “superiority” of other three peoples:
    Latins, Greeks and Slavs.

    And that “Illyrian” or “Thracian” language only (re)appears in the late 1300s? Lefting no trace before that? And it appears with Slavic and Greek names to toponyms and such?

    And why in the late 1300s and not before the Turks had conquered the area and move populations?

    To me, Albanians are “really” Caucasians, despite how much they have mixed with Arabs, Turks, Greeks and Slavs.

    You have to agree to me that it is very odd, isn’t it?

    And besides, we only have ONE language in the Indo-European family that is also a major branch: It is Greek, and Greek is well documented.
    Armenian is also well documented. And if we know a little of History, it is easy to imagine that there were some relatively major languages close to Armenian that were spoken in Eastern Turkey or the Caucasus and that gradually disappeared.

    It is very strange that something similar happens to Albania and Albanians. It is very odd for Albanian to be an Indo-European language.
    Any study done in the matter (that I have seen) tries to put Albania in an European context and considers it immediately different from Caucasian Albania, without explaining why.

    I feel it is politically motivated.

  7. I’m curious about this.

    A quick and way too basic search on Wikipedia:

    “Albanian (Gjuha shqipe, pronounced [ˈɟuha ˈʃcipɛ], or shqip, pronounced [ˈʃcip])”

    “Shqipe” It does not sound “European” I don’t know any Latin or Slavic self identification that is similar. And I believe that Greeks also express their language in a very different manner.

    “New”, which is very similar in all Indo European languages and is somewhat related to the number nine in most Western European languages at least, it “ri” (RI!!!) in Albanian.
    For instance, in Portuguese it is Novo and in Sanskrit it was NAVA!!
    In English it is new and in Persian it is NOU!!

    Mother which starts always with an m: Mater, Mãe, Mother, Mutter, Mére, Madre… and which is kind of similar in Albanian is “Néné”!

    And then on Wikipedia they explain how Albanian is Indo-European because it has some resemblances with proto-Indo-European (an invented language) and not by comparison with other Indo-European languages.

    I find it very suspicious indeed. But again, I’m no specialist in linguistics whatsoever.

  8. Thank what is Albanian Language???

    What?? Slavic language is more indo-european???

    Please note that we believe more than you in Jesus if this is what troubles YOU!!

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