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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:28 am 
Sumerul
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WeepingElf wrote:
Rather, it may have been a part of the first "Kurgan" advance ca. 4500 BC, which would still make it an early offshot of IE, perhaps Para-Anatolian (i.e., more closely related to Anatolian than to the rest of the family), perhaps an earlier branch than Anatolian. Maybe the absence of PIE ablaut is secondary due to the following sound changes

So, just to be sure, this is your new hypothesis, that Aquan is actually IE?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:53 am 
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jal wrote:
WeepingElf wrote:
Rather, it may have been a part of the first "Kurgan" advance ca. 4500 BC, which would still make it an early offshot of IE, perhaps Para-Anatolian (i.e., more closely related to Anatolian than to the rest of the family), perhaps an earlier branch than Anatolian. Maybe the absence of PIE ablaut is secondary due to the following sound changes

So, just to be sure, this is your new hypothesis, that Aquan is actually IE?


Sort of, yes. Actually, not much changes, from "the closest relative of IE" to "an early offshot of IE". Just a matter of defining what IE is and what not - and a shorter time scale which actually makes more sense than the longer old one. I suppose Aquan is Kurgan I (4400 BC), Anatolian Kurgan II (3500 BC) and Narrow IE Kurgan III (3000 BC). At any rate, the LBK people are out of the game, as is the Black Sea Flood which perhaps never happened.

That also means that Old Albic and its Hesperic relatives would be a branch of IE as well. I am currently thinking about the consequences of this change of my hypothesis.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:38 pm 
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Why I no longer believe in the Vinča script

I used to think of the Vinča symbols as an ancient script in which a Europic language related to Aquan and IE was written. The idea of a relationship to Aquan and IE is gone with the Europic hypothesis as a whole, which I abandoned two weeks ago.

But I now also doubt that these signs are a script representing a language at all. Why? Because these symbols do not look anything like an ancient script. All early scripts are logographic, and all those scripts consist of more or less pictorial signs visually representing the meanings of the words they encode. So the sign for 'bird' looks like a bird. Abstract concepts are symbolized by pictures of associated items, such as an eye for 'to see', or water for 'to drink'. This is true for Egyptian hieroglyphics, for instance, also for the oldest stages of Sumerian and Chinese. Abstract signs come into play after the script has shifted from representing words to representing syllables or phonemes, which of course have no shapes (unless you are a synaesthete of the right sort).

Of the Vinĉa artifacts, only the Tărtăria tablets look like this. And these tablets do not look at all like anything else in the Vinča cultural province, to a point that their authenticity has been questioned. All other items show engravings which are almost always entirely abstract. This is not what one would expect from such an old script.

Also, all true writing systems usually have the glyphs aligned in lines, as the glyphs represent either words or sounds aligned linearly in time. This is also true of some Vinča "inscriptions", but not of many others. There are, however, some interesting items, such as a spindle whorl found at Mitrovica (Kosovo) which bears the same "inscription" on both sides. Yet, even though I don't have a better interpretation, I seriously doubt that these strange marks are a writing system.

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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 4:23 pm 
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Though I'd share what I'd gleaned from two epochal pre-prints just out. I know you may know this already, but since the thread's here we may as well mention it.

Let's try bullet points...


- some WHGs [Western Hunter Gatherers - blue-eyed, dark-skinned people who spread from the Balkans and Italy to dominate all of Europe] migrated into Anatolia at some point
- farming spread in the middle east. When farmers reached Anatolia, they picked up some WHG genes - not a lot, just a bit.
- farmers migrated from northwest anatolia into the Balkans.
- they replaced 98% of the WHG population in the Balkans (except around some marshy riverbanks).
- they expanded rapidly into central and northern Europe (i.e. LBK). They were less succesful at annihilating the natives there, probably because their agriculture was less suitable for the area and unfarmable areas retained WHG populations
- they also expanded along the mediterranean coastline, into Iberia (i.e. Cardial). Crucially, Cardial and LBK were in fact closely related and all from northwest anatolia - it's proposed that they were the same people but split in the Balkans.
- the UK apparently had some farmers from Iberia (etc). It seems likely that this Cardial form of the culture was associated with megaliths (from Orkney to Sardinia).
- however, all these neolithic farmers were so extremely similar to one another that it can be hard to tell which are which.
- curiously, however, southern Greece was NOT originally peopled in this way. Instead, it had farmers who DIDN'T have WHG genes - i.e. who didn't come through Anatolia, but were probably from the Levant via Cyprus. However, these people were eventually swamped out by migrants from northern greece

- Greece and the Balkans had low-level genetic contacts with the Steppe millennia before the kurgan invasion.
- however, nowhere else did. In particular, the Globular Amphora Culture, right next to the steppe, was completely genetically isolated from it. Steppe genes didn't enter gradually, but in a massive replacement.

- as we thought before, the later neolithic saw more WHG genes. In some places, where the farmers were more dominant, this was sex-neutral. However, in other areas it was overwhelmingly male WHGs who bred into the farming lines. Central European late Neolithic genes were in some places up to 50% WHG in the male line, but less than 5% WHG in the female line.

- Iberia retained stronger WHG genetic ties than elsewhere.

- Iberian Bell Beakers predate those elsewhere.
- IBBs look pretty much like ordinary neolithic iberians. BB was probably a domestic innovation. Although I don't think the paper tested any North Africans, who may have looked pretty similar at that time. Also, there are some traces of steppe ancestry in northern spain already.

- Bell Beakers everywhere else do NOT look like neolithic Iberians. In fact they seem to have NO noticeable Iberian ancestry. BB spread culturally, not through migration - so far as we can see, not even through elite migration.

- Instead, non-Iberian BBs look like steppe invaders, much like Corded Ware. In particular, non-Iberian BBs seem dominated by R1b in the male lines.

- BB spread to the UK, probably from the Lower Rhine. European and UK BBs look effectively identical. They did not migrate from Iberia.
- the BB invasion of the UK was the UK part of the steppe invasions. They replaced "at least 93%" of the native neolithic population. R1b was complete absent before, but immediately after represents 95% of all men in Britain. [this fell to 75% by the Middle Bronze Age]

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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 5:21 am 
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Relevant: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/05/ ... nyone-else


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:00 am 
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Excuse me for replying to a post that's three months old, but I just rediscovered this thread I had lost sight of, and these thoughts are so interesting that I feel like commenting on them.

Salmoneus wrote:
Though I'd share what I'd gleaned from two epochal pre-prints just out. I know you may know this already, but since the thread's here we may as well mention it.

Let's try bullet points...


- some WHGs [Western Hunter Gatherers - blue-eyed, dark-skinned people who spread from the Balkans and Italy to dominate all of Europe] migrated into Anatolia at some point


I did not know this. That's certainly interesting.

Quote:
- farming spread in the middle east. When farmers reached Anatolia, they picked up some WHG genes - not a lot, just a bit.
- farmers migrated from northwest anatolia into the Balkans.
- they replaced 98% of the WHG population in the Balkans (except around some marshy riverbanks).


Fair. So the Balkan Neolithic languages would have been related to the Anatolian Neolithic ones - which may have been related to Kartvelian, but that's mere speculation! A scholar named E. Furnée claimed to have found about 100 Kartvelian substratum loanwords in Greek. I know a paper of his (from the late nostratic.ru collection of stolen papers), written in the mid-70s, but it is not of very good quality. The sound correspondences are vague and irregular, the semantic matches often poor, and about half of the Greek items are from Hesychian glosses, which IMHO are best handled with care.

Quote:
- they expanded rapidly into central and northern Europe (i.e. LBK). They were less succesful at annihilating the natives there, probably because their agriculture was less suitable for the area and unfarmable areas retained WHG populations


This makes sense. While LBK seems to have been carried by immigrants, there are some fields of continuiity, such as arrowheads - which belong to the toolkit of the hunter, not the farmer, and the experts for hunting in the Central European forests of course were the Mesolithic people, not the LBK farmers. And the LBK settled only in the loess-filled valleys and not in areas that were less suitable to farming.

This would mean that the LBK languages would have in turn been related to the Balkan and Anatolian Neolithic languages.

Quote:
- they also expanded along the mediterranean coastline, into Iberia (i.e. Cardial). Crucially, Cardial and LBK were in fact closely related and all from northwest anatolia - it's proposed that they were the same people but split in the Balkans.


Thus, further relatives of the Anatolian Neolithic language family. We get something quite big and almost comparable in size to IE! My next major lostlang project ;)

Quote:
- the UK apparently had some farmers from Iberia (etc). It seems likely that this Cardial form of the culture was associated with megaliths (from Orkney to Sardinia).
- however, all these neolithic farmers were so extremely similar to one another that it can be hard to tell which are which.


I am skeptical about considering the "Megalithic culture" a unit. The idea of building graves and other monuments of large stones may have spread culturally rather than demically.

Quote:
- curiously, however, southern Greece was NOT originally peopled in this way. Instead, it had farmers who DIDN'T have WHG genes - i.e. who didn't come through Anatolia, but were probably from the Levant via Cyprus. However, these people were eventually swamped out by migrants from northern greece


Fine. Southern Greece does not seem to have been part of what some people call the "Danube civilization" (and claim to have had writing, but I am not convinced by the idea that the Vinča symbols were writing), so its farmers may have had a different origin than the people of the Vinča and related cultures.

Quote:
- Greece and the Balkans had low-level genetic contacts with the Steppe millennia before the kurgan invasion.
- however, nowhere else did. In particular, the Globular Amphora Culture, right next to the steppe, was completely genetically isolated from it. Steppe genes didn't enter gradually, but in a massive replacement.


Pre-Kurgan gene flow from the steppe into the Balkans is of course possible and not unlikely. On the steppe, the grass is always greener in the west, and many peoples have moved (or tried to move) from the steppe into SE Europe in historical times - Scythians, Huns, Avars, Hungarians, Mongols - so why not in the Neolithic?

AFAIK, there were three waves of "Kurgan" expasions, one around 4500 BC, one around 3500 BC and one around 3000 BC. And each of the waves would have carried genes from the steppes into Central and Southeastern Europe. But as you say, there may have been gene flow out of the steppe even earlier.

I conjecture that the non-Anatolian IE languages are from the third wave, Anatolian and some lost "Para-Anatolian" languages of Southeastern Europe (maybe including Diakonoff's "Pelasgian") from the second, while the languages of the first wave are all lost, but left traces in the Old European Hydronymy and substratum loanwords in Northwestern IE languages.

Quote:
- as we thought before, the later neolithic saw more WHG genes. In some places, where the farmers were more dominant, this was sex-neutral. However, in other areas it was overwhelmingly male WHGs who bred into the farming lines. Central European late Neolithic genes were in some places up to 50% WHG in the male line, but less than 5% WHG in the female line.


That is interesting. So the males were hunters and the females were farmers? Why not? In hunter-gatherer societies, AFAIK gathering fruit and grains is often the task of women, while the men hunt venison. From that, it would not come as a surprise if crop farming is done by women and cattle herding by men in a Neolithic society.

Quote:
- Iberia retained stronger WHG genetic ties than elsewhere.


As to be expected.

Quote:
- Iberian Bell Beakers predate those elsewhere.
- IBBs look pretty much like ordinary neolithic iberians. BB was probably a domestic innovation. Although I don't think the paper tested any North Africans, who may have looked pretty similar at that time. Also, there are some traces of steppe ancestry in northern spain already.

- Bell Beakers everywhere else do NOT look like neolithic Iberians. In fact they seem to have NO noticeable Iberian ancestry. BB spread culturally, not through migration - so far as we can see, not even through elite migration.

- Instead, non-Iberian BBs look like steppe invaders, much like Corded Ware. In particular, non-Iberian BBs seem dominated by R1b in the male lines.


So the Bell-Beaker culture is not genetically homogenic, and the beakers were something like the "coke bottles" of the Copper Age - a cultural fad that spread through various populations.

Quote:
- BB spread to the UK, probably from the Lower Rhine. European and UK BBs look effectively identical. They did not migrate from Iberia.
- the BB invasion of the UK was the UK part of the steppe invasions. They replaced "at least 93%" of the native neolithic population. R1b was complete absent before, but immediately after represents 95% of all men in Britain. [this fell to 75% by the Middle Bronze Age]


So the British BB people could have spoken a language from the first (or second) wave of "Kurgan" expansion, and carried the Old European Hydronymy to Britain. Maybe there was some pressure from the third wave moving into Central Europe. I still feel that the Early Bronze Age is much too early for the spread of Celtic, so the British BB people probably spoke a language that was not Celtic, but an early offshoot of the IE family, perhaps even earlier than Anatolian.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:24 am 
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I should add that I no longer consider it very likely that Europe had anything like 20 to 30 stocks at any time in its prehistory. Pre-colonial North America is not really a good model, the conditions there are different - it is most importantly less connected to other parts of the world than Europe. Also, the number of 50 stocks in North America is based on conservative "splitter" classifications and thus may be too high anyway.

Sure, we have three apparently mutually unrelated language isolates in ancient Spain, but in the Mesolithic the population density would have been lower, which would lead to a guess that the linguistic diversity was lower, too. So perhaps one or two stocks in Mesolithic Spain, and not much more than perhaps a dozen stocks in all of Mesolithic Europe. Also, one, two or all three of the Paleo-Hispanic languages may have entered the Iberian Peninsula in the Neolithic or later! Basque perhaps did not originate in northern Spain but on the French side of the Pyrenees. Iberian may be a result of the Cardial Neolithic demic expansion. And Tartessian - well, some people consider it a Celtic language, which would eliminate it from the roster of Paleo-European languages altogether.

Certainly, the margin of error is huge, though. Mesolithic Europe may have been dominated by one or two large families, or splintered into more than a dozen little units.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:30 pm 
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Let me try a preliminary overview of what may have happened linguistically in prehistoric Europe. Nothing of what follows can be considered certain, of course; all of this is just material for discussion, and may be falsified by things I do not know yet. Comments and critiques are welcome.

0. It is unknown when the first languages were spoken in Europe, depending on to which degree Homo heidelbergensis or Homo neanderthalensis had language (they probably did have some kind of language, but perhaps less sophisticated than ours). Most likely, these languages were wiped out after the arrival of Homo sapiens, when their speakers died out. There is only a remote possibility that some words pertaining to European nature and wildlife were borrowed by Homo sapiens.

1. For our purposes, then, the linguistic prehistory of Europe began with the arrival of Homo sapiens in the Upper Paleolithic, c. 45,000 BC. Homo sapiens came from the east, on two routes, one along the Mediterranean coast, one north of the Black Sea and the Alps. So we get two great families, let's call them Paleo-Mediterranean and Paleo-Transalpine, which may in turn have been branches of a single large family rooted in the Near East, but could just as well have been utterly different.

2. During the Upper Paleolithic, Paleo-Mediterranean diversifies more and more; perhaps, later immigrations from the Near East or North Africa, add even more languages. Paleo-Transalpine also diversifies, but as the climate worsens, most of Europe north of the Alps is more and more depopulated, and most branches of Paleo-Transalpine vanish.

3. At the Last Glacial Maximum, ca. 20,000 to 16,000 BC, only two branches of Paleo-Transalpine are left, one in southern France, and one north of the Black Sea; we may call them Paleo-Atlantic and Paleo-Pontic, respectively. These two may have descendants even today, namely Basque of Paleo-Atlantic, and Abkhaz-Adyghean (Northwest Causasian) and Nakh-Daghestanina (Northeast Caucasian) of Paleo-Pontic. (Alternatively, these could be Mediterranean languages that went north in the Mesolithic, see point 5.) Of course, after all those millennia after separation, these are now utterly different language families, to the point that a time-travelling linguist would no longer be able to find clear evidence of relationship. Meanwhile, Mediterranean Europe holds perhaps up to a dozen different families, their common descent from Paleo-Mediterranean no longer discernible.

4. After the Glacial Maximum, Europe north of the Alps is gradually repopulated by Paleo-Atlantic and Paleo-Pontic speakers. It is hard to say where they meet, but probably somewhere in Central Europe. Meanwhile, linguistic diversity in Mediterranean Europe remains quite high, at 5 to 10 families that would be discernible to a time-travelling linguist.

5. The ice age ends about 9600 BC, and Europe enters the Mesolithic. Paleo-Atlantic speakers settle in the British Isles (then not yet islands) and in western Scandinavia, while Paleo-Pontic speakers settle around the Baltic Sea. Some Mediterranean groups probably venture northwards; maybe Basque and one or both of the North Caucasian families are carried northward by them, if they are not survivors of Paleo-Atlantic and Paleo-Pontic, respectively. Meanwhile, another family, Mitian spreads from a centre in Central Asia, and reaches the easternmost recesses of Europe.

6. The European Neolithic begins about 7000 BC, with the arrival of the first European farmers from Anatolia. In the following 2000 years, a demic expansion of agriculture into the Balkan Peninsula, Central Europe and the Mediterranean coasts takes place. This results in the spread of two large Neolithic language families, one north, one south of the Alps. We could call these Danubian and Cardial-Impresso, respectively. The Iberian language of pre-Roman eastern Spain could be a part of the Cardial-Impresso family. These two families could be branches of one larger unit, but this is uncertain. The westernmost branch of Mitian diversifies in the Pontic-Caspian steppe, giving birth to Macro-Indo-European and Macro-Uralic.

7. Around 4500 BC, the first "Kurgan wave" of Macro-Indo-European speakers spreads westward through the Lower Danube region into Central Europe, eclipsing most of the Danubian family. Their language becomes Aquan, the language of the Old European Hydronymy. At about the same time, Macro-Uralic spreads across northeastern Europe in the framework of the Pit-Comb Ware culture.

8. Around 3500 BC, the second "Kurgan wave" carries Proto-Anatolian to the eastern parts of the Balkan Peninsula, from whence it later enters Anatolia.

9. Around 3000 BC, the third "Kurgan wave" spreads Indo-European languages into the Balkan Peninsula and Central Europe, and also eastward into Central Asia. Aquan speakers are pushed westward into France, the British Isles, the Iberian Peninsula and northern Italy. At the same time, Uralic proper spreads in the northeast, eclipsing the other Macro-Uralic languages.

10. In the Bronze Age, Indo-European and Uralic displace most other European languages. The Aquan family perhaps holds out longest in the British Isles, where it may become the language of a civilization that underlies the Celtic and Germanic traditions of Elves, the Greek traditions of Hyperborea and the Homeric Phaeacians, and perhaps Plato's Atlantis. The Germanic nautic terminology may be from this language, and it may have exerted a substratum influence on Insular Celtic. Alas, no clear archaeological evidence of such a civilization has been found yet. Basque holds out in southwestern France and the western Pyrenees, Iberian in the east and Tartassian in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula. Etruscan seems to be a younger stratum than Aquan in Italy; it perhaps arrived from northwestern Anatolia around 1200 BC (the Roman foundation myth may actually relate the arrival of the Etruscans (pre-republican Rome was ruled by an Etruscan nobility) from Troy). There are also non-IE languages on Crete (Minoan, Eteocretan) and Cyprus (Cypro-Minoan, Eteocypriot). In the Caucasus, we have the three Caucasian families. The rest is (literally!) history.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:17 pm 
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WeepingElf wrote:
8. Around 3500 BC, the second "Kurgan wave" carries Proto-Anatolian to the eastern parts of the Balkan Peninsula, from whence it later enters Anatolia.

That's a bit messy for an Indo-Hittite split into Anatolian and Indo-European.

WeepingElf wrote:
10. ... Basque holds out in southwestern France and the western Pyrenees,

I thought the present-day Basque country showed a Celtic substrate.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:13 am 
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Lol. I really have a hard time following what happens in Basque country. I hear at the same time one thing and its contrary.

From what I have understood, the spanish side of the Basque country may have been populating by peoples from Novempopulia, so modern Basque people may not be exactly the same as the vascones (or ouaskonooi).


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:44 am 
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WeepingElf wrote:
1. ... So we get two great families, let's call them Paleo-Mediterranean and Paleo-Transalpine, which may in turn have been branches of a single large family rooted in the Near East, but could just as well have been utterly different.

2. During the Upper Paleolithic, Paleo-Mediterranean diversifies more and more...

3. At the Last Glacial Maximum, ca. 20,000 to 16,000 BC, only two branches of Paleo-Transalpine are left, one in southern France, and one north of the Black Sea...

4. After the Glacial Maximum, Europe north of the Alps is gradually repopulated by Paleo-Atlantic and Paleo-Pontic speakers...


So to simplify, your Palaeolithic theory is:
- two migrations, one southern and one northern, potentially unrelated
- northern branch splits in two: one branch in France, one in Ukraine
- northern branches together repopulate northern Europe

What do you base this theory on?

Fu et al's 2016 "The Genetic History of Ice Age Europe", instead concludes:
- some initial migrations into Europe - at least into Romania - have left no detectable impact on any other European populations
- however, all known Europeans from 37k to 14k represent a single founding population with negligible contact with any external population.
- that founding population split into three groups, which for simplicity I'll call A, B, and C
- Population A is the oldest known, discovered in Belgium.
- however, Population B then took over. Population B is most represented in central europe, but is also known from as far afield as Belgium, southern Italy, and the Urals. The Ural population is older, but given the near-zero number of samples from this era, that may be a coincidence. Population B is associated with the rise of the Gravettian culture. The Gravettian culture apparently suddenly arose across the whole of Europe, and the genetic seem to suggest that this was at least to a large degree the result of mass migration.
- as the ice retreated, descendents of Population A reappeared and spread at the very least from Spain to Germany - nothing was tested east of Germany from this era, so it's unclear how far they got. This expansion is associated with the Magdalenian culture.

- around 14,000, Population C arises. They'd been around a while (as a substrate in southern Population A). They're particularly associated with Italy, but dominated everywhere from Spain to Hungary. Interestingly, this culture shows signs of external influence. They remain mostly European, but have a significant element shared with Caucasians, though not directly from the Caucasus - a Near Eastern element that entered Europe before its eastern strains gained other adstrates in the Caucasus. This element remains relevent in modern Near East populations. This may indicate a migration from the Near East around 14,000. Alternatively, it may be that the mixing was earlier, in unsampled populations perhaps from the Balkans, and the Balkan population then migrated west. [the form of C seen in Spanish samples of Population A lacks this eastern injection].

Intriguingly, two samples of Population C from Switzerland also show minor East Asian ancestry.

Quote:

5. The ice age ends about 9600 BC, and Europe enters the Mesolithic. Paleo-Atlantic speakers settle in the British Isles (then not yet islands) and in western Scandinavia, while Paleo-Pontic speakers settle around the Baltic Sea. Some Mediterranean groups probably venture northwards; maybe Basque and one or both of the North Caucasian families are carried northward by them, if they are not survivors of Paleo-Atlantic and Paleo-Pontic, respectively. Meanwhile, another family, Mitian spreads from a centre in Central Asia, and reaches the easternmost recesses of Europe.


The paper mentioned above says that the population of western and central europe was descended primarily from what i've called Population C, although the branch involved split from the late-Palaeolithic 'Villabruna' Population C right after reaching Europe, so we can basically treat them as a fourth part of the European clade. There's also a smaller influence from Population A.

Just to give a basic idea of the clades they see:
- a single population enters Europe
- it splits between what we might call M and Y.
- M splits between what we might call W and Z.
- Y splits into Y1 and Y2
- W splits into W1 and W2, the latter splitting immediately into W2a and W2b, with W2a splitting into W2a1 and W2a2
- Z splits into Z1 and Z2

This all happens between about 40k and 35k.

Y1 is found early on near the Urals. Z1 is then found in Belgium.
Y2 combines with a very small element of W2a1 to create the Gravettian culture everywhere.
Z2 splits into Z2a and Z2b. This is all done by 30k.

Z2a, with a smaller element of W2a2, creates the Magdalenian culture.

W1, which has somewhere picked up some Near East (and even in places Far East) ancestry, then takes over the whole of Europe as the Villabruna

W2b, with a small element of Z2b, then takes over western europe in the Mesolithic.

Quote:
7. Around 4500 BC, the first "Kurgan wave" of Macro-Indo-European speakers spreads westward through the Lower Danube region into Central Europe, eclipsing most of the Danubian family. Their language becomes Aquan, the language of the Old European Hydronymy.

So far as I'm aware there is zero evidence for this, archaeologically, genetically or linguistically. I could be wrong.
Quote:
9. Around 3000 BC, the third "Kurgan wave" spreads Indo-European languages into the Balkan Peninsula and Central Europe, and also eastward into Central Asia. Aquan speakers are pushed westward into France, the British Isles, the Iberian Peninsula and northern Italy.

So far as I'm aware, there is no evidence for this. The migration to Britain looks exactly like the Corded Ware people who are assumed to have also spread Indo-Iranian, Greek, Baltic, Slavic and Germanic (and possibly Italo-Celtic as well, and maybe even Tocharian). If the R1b migrants in France and Spain are noticeably different (and the R1b migrants in Britain aren't, so they may not be either), they're probably migrants from Pannonia (etc), outside the Corded Ware ZOC. It may just be, however, that R1a vs R1b is a random sorting thing among Corded Ware tribes, later amplified by founder effects.
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10. In the Bronze Age, Indo-European and Uralic displace most other European languages. The Aquan family perhaps holds out longest in the British Isles, where it may become the language of a civilization that underlies the Celtic and Germanic traditions of Elves, the Greek traditions of Hyperborea and the Homeric Phaeacians, and perhaps Plato's Atlantis.

Well sure, but it could also have been brought to the area by visiting space aliens.
Quote:

The Germanic nautic terminology may be from this language, and it may have exerted a substratum influence on Insular Celtic.

Why would we expect one language to yield substantial lexical borrowings into Germanic, but nothing syntactic, and exert substantial syntactic influence, but yield no loanwords, in Insular Celtic?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:51 am 
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I admit that what I posted is speculation, and I expected you to pick it mercilessly apart. Yet, I won't take ignoramus et ignorabimus ad aeternum as an answer,which pretty much seems to sum up your position on prehistoric languages ;). The migration patterns are based mostly in Manco, Ancestral Journeys, which is of course a popular science book of whichever quality (it may especially be utterly out of date in this fast-moving science!), and on what you posted here. I am neither an archaeologist nor a geneticist, and only an amateur linguist, so I can't tell how good it all is. It may be all wrong!

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:31 pm 
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Now for a more detailed, point-by-point reply.

Salmoneus wrote:
WeepingElf wrote:
1. ... So we get two great families, let's call them Paleo-Mediterranean and Paleo-Transalpine, which may in turn have been branches of a single large family rooted in the Near East, but could just as well have been utterly different.

2. During the Upper Paleolithic, Paleo-Mediterranean diversifies more and more...

3. At the Last Glacial Maximum, ca. 20,000 to 16,000 BC, only two branches of Paleo-Transalpine are left, one in southern France, and one north of the Black Sea...

4. After the Glacial Maximum, Europe north of the Alps is gradually repopulated by Paleo-Atlantic and Paleo-Pontic speakers...


So to simplify, your Palaeolithic theory is:
- two migrations, one southern and one northern, potentially unrelated
- northern branch splits in two: one branch in France, one in Ukraine
- northern branches together repopulate northern Europe

What do you base this theory on?


I admit that the Paleolithic part is the most uncertain one of my model. As I said earlier, I followed what I read in Jean Manco's book Ancestral Journeys. That one may be simplistic and out of date (things move so damn fast in human population genetics, it seems to me); also, I have the feeling that different researchers reach at vastly different conclusions from the same isopleth maps ;) Certainly, the Paleolithic migration patterns are much more complex than that, and it is far from certain that the language family tree mirrors them!

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Fu et al's 2016 "The Genetic History of Ice Age Europe", instead concludes:
- some initial migrations into Europe - at least into Romania - have left no detectable impact on any other European populations
- however, all known Europeans from 37k to 14k represent a single founding population with negligible contact with any external population.
- that founding population split into three groups, which for simplicity I'll call A, B, and C
- Population A is the oldest known, discovered in Belgium.
- however, Population B then took over. Population B is most represented in central europe, but is also known from as far afield as Belgium, southern Italy, and the Urals. The Ural population is older, but given the near-zero number of samples from this era, that may be a coincidence. Population B is associated with the rise of the Gravettian culture. The Gravettian culture apparently suddenly arose across the whole of Europe, and the genetic seem to suggest that this was at least to a large degree the result of mass migration.
- as the ice retreated, descendents of Population A reappeared and spread at the very least from Spain to Germany - nothing was tested east of Germany from this era, so it's unclear how far they got. This expansion is associated with the Magdalenian culture.

- around 14,000, Population C arises. They'd been around a while (as a substrate in southern Population A). They're particularly associated with Italy, but dominated everywhere from Spain to Hungary. Interestingly, this culture shows signs of external influence. They remain mostly European, but have a significant element shared with Caucasians, though not directly from the Caucasus - a Near Eastern element that entered Europe before its eastern strains gained other adstrates in the Caucasus. This element remains relevent in modern Near East populations. This may indicate a migration from the Near East around 14,000. Alternatively, it may be that the mixing was earlier, in unsampled populations perhaps from the Balkans, and the Balkan population then migrated west. [the form of C seen in Spanish samples of Population A lacks this eastern injection].

Intriguingly, two samples of Population C from Switzerland also show minor East Asian ancestry.


Interesting, but how do I know that these are hard facts and not just interpretations of isopleth maps or a small number of finds? It seems as if the same data can be read in many different ways in this discipline; at least I have seen radically different conclusions drawn from the same data. But I should read the book [EDIT: not a book, an article - I've already found it] you mention.

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5. The ice age ends about 9600 BC, and Europe enters the Mesolithic. Paleo-Atlantic speakers settle in the British Isles (then not yet islands) and in western Scandinavia, while Paleo-Pontic speakers settle around the Baltic Sea. Some Mediterranean groups probably venture northwards; maybe Basque and one or both of the North Caucasian families are carried northward by them, if they are not survivors of Paleo-Atlantic and Paleo-Pontic, respectively. Meanwhile, another family, Mitian spreads from a centre in Central Asia, and reaches the easternmost recesses of Europe.


The paper mentioned above says that the population of western and central europe was descended primarily from what i've called Population C, although the branch involved split from the late-Palaeolithic 'Villabruna' Population C right after reaching Europe, so we can basically treat them as a fourth part of the European clade. There's also a smaller influence from Population A.

Just to give a basic idea of the clades they see:
- a single population enters Europe
- it splits between what we might call M and Y.
- M splits between what we might call W and Z.
- Y splits into Y1 and Y2
- W splits into W1 and W2, the latter splitting immediately into W2a and W2b, with W2a splitting into W2a1 and W2a2
- Z splits into Z1 and Z2

This all happens between about 40k and 35k.

Y1 is found early on near the Urals. Z1 is then found in Belgium.
Y2 combines with a very small element of W2a1 to create the Gravettian culture everywhere.
Z2 splits into Z2a and Z2b. This is all done by 30k.

Z2a, with a smaller element of W2a2, creates the Magdalenian culture.

W1, which has somewhere picked up some Near East (and even in places Far East) ancestry, then takes over the whole of Europe as the Villabruna

W2b, with a small element of Z2b, then takes over western europe in the Mesolithic.


This leaves me dazed and confused. Which population is where? And are the designations your own, or are they used by other scholars as well? As you wrote it up, it all tells me nothing. This is not about showing off knowledge in a way that baffles the reader but doesn't help him understand, it is about sharing it. I hope your source contains good maps.

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7. Around 4500 BC, the first "Kurgan wave" of Macro-Indo-European speakers spreads westward through the Lower Danube region into Central Europe, eclipsing most of the Danubian family. Their language becomes Aquan, the language of the Old European Hydronymy.

So far as I'm aware there is zero evidence for this, archaeologically, genetically or linguistically. I could be wrong.


I wouldn't call the Old European Hydronymy "zero evidence". Sure, I may misinterpret it, but it seems to me as if there was a linguistic stratum related to IE but distinct from IE proper in Late Neolithic Central Europe. I formerly identified this stratum with LBK (the infamous "Europic" theory), but more research turned up problems which led me to abandon that idea. I can't put the finger on it, but wasn't there a movement into Central Europe around 4500 BC which brought in dairy farming (and the lactose tolerance gene) but not yet wheeled vehicles? But my main argument is linguistic, and I am not alone in assuming such a stratum.

However, there are people who interpret the Old European Hydronymy vastly differently, most notably Theo Vennemann. But in my opinion the structure of the OEH shows that this is a layer that was still highly homogenous when the historical IE languages moved in, pointing at a time depth of about 4000 to 5000 BC - a bit too young for LBK, and much too young for what I called "Paleo-Atlantic", i.e. Vennemann's Vasconic. Also, the IE interpretations given by Krahe look better to me than Vennemann's Vasconic ones.

It is also the question how old such names can be at all. Surely, names of cities, towns and villages (not part of the OEH but adduced by Vennemann) can't be Paleolithic! Even river names can't, because the rivers changed quite a bit when the ice age ended, as the glaciers that had fed many of them earlier melted away, regions relieved of the ice sheet rose up (not by much, but enough to change the courses of rivers), etc. Such processes are still at work today. For instance, I have recently read that the Neva river in northwestern Russia, which runs through St. Petersburg, formed only in the Bronze Age (which prompted some onomasticists to interpret the name as 'the new one').

And didn't you speak of a population collapse in Central Europe around 4500 BC, which was replenished by new immigrants, a few months ago?

Quote:
Quote:
9. Around 3000 BC, the third "Kurgan wave" spreads Indo-European languages into the Balkan Peninsula and Central Europe, and also eastward into Central Asia. Aquan speakers are pushed westward into France, the British Isles, the Iberian Peninsula and northern Italy.

So far as I'm aware, there is no evidence for this. The migration to Britain looks exactly like the Corded Ware people who are assumed to have also spread Indo-Iranian, Greek, Baltic, Slavic and Germanic (and possibly Italo-Celtic as well, and maybe even Tocharian). If the R1b migrants in France and Spain are noticeably different (and the R1b migrants in Britain aren't, so they may not be either), they're probably migrants from Pannonia (etc), outside the Corded Ware ZOC. It may just be, however, that R1a vs R1b is a random sorting thing among Corded Ware tribes, later amplified by founder effects.


In my hypothesis, the three "Kurgan" migrations have the same origin and are thus genetically very similar to each other, so it doesn't seem as if there was just one such movement in the genetic data. My argumentation for three waves (for which there seems to be archaeological evidence) is mainly based on linguistic facts. Some scholars assume that the 3000 BC migrations to Britain and Spain were Celtic, but Celtic just can't be that deep. The Celts spoke what essentially still were dialects of one language when the Romans encountered them, and that is not what one would expect in such a large area after 3000 years of separation. I may be old-fashioned, but I still place Proto-Celtic at the Hallstatt culture about 1000-600 BC. This raises the question: What did the genetically "IE-like" immigrants in Copper Age Britain speak, and what are the OEH names found there from, if not Celtic? Answer: probably something that forked off the main strain of PIE earlier, i.e. what I call "Aquan".

Quote:
Quote:
10. In the Bronze Age, Indo-European and Uralic displace most other European languages. The Aquan family perhaps holds out longest in the British Isles, where it may become the language of a civilization that underlies the Celtic and Germanic traditions of Elves, the Greek traditions of Hyperborea and the Homeric Phaeacians, and perhaps Plato's Atlantis.

Well sure, but it could also have been brought to the area by visiting space aliens.


Don't be silly. But I admit that mythological evidence not backed by hard facts is vacuous, and the Bronze Age Aquan civilization in the British Isles may be just a flight of fancy that never existed.

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Quote:

The Germanic nautic terminology may be from this language, and it may have exerted a substratum influence on Insular Celtic.

Why would we expect one language to yield substantial lexical borrowings into Germanic, but nothing syntactic, and exert substantial syntactic influence, but yield no loanwords, in Insular Celtic?


Why "no loanwords"? I am doing some research on substratum loanwords in western IE languages, and I have found so far more than 100 items in Celtic, many of them restricted to Insular Celtic, that have no good IE etymologies and seem to come from something that may have been Aquan. Some of these are also found in Germanic.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:57 pm 
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weepingElf wrote:
ignoramus et ignorabimus ad aeternum
sounds about right to me

Also, I don't think that stories about Elves and Hyperborea are proof of anything besides an overactive imagination that is common place among humans. Theories about Atlantis is the kind of stuff that makes me immediately stop taking what I'm reading seriously.

Is there any evidence for a language family consisting of all of Celtic, Germanic and Balto-Slavic (and maybe other non-Italic and non-Hellenic European languages)?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 6:02 pm 
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WeepingElf wrote:
This leaves me dazed and confused. Which population is where? And are the designations your own, or are they used by other scholars as well? As you wrote it up, it all tells me nothing. This is not about showing off knowledge in a way that baffles the reader but doesn't help him understand, it is about sharing it. I hope your source contains good maps.

Don't impugn people's motives with flaming if you can't understand something. In terms of which people were where, see the post you were quoting. No, those aren't official names, just an indication of the cladistics. You can see a diagram in the article, if you prefer.
Quote:

I wouldn't call the Old European Hydronymy "zero evidence".

And I cannot conceive of a way to see it as any more than zero evidence. We've been over this before, but:
- Krahe's mass comparison method, with no requirements for semantic matching and extremely generous degrees of phonological similarity allowed, and focused on 'retrieving' very short 'roots' that may occur with prefixes, suffixes, or unpredictable 'ablaut', is practically guaranteed to create the impression of patterns where there aren't any;
- Krahe's sets, once probably-coincidental outliers are excluded, look remarkably homogenous, implying a very low rate of drift for the thousands and thousands of years to the first historical records, even though the histories of such place names since then have shown much, much higher rates of drift. This is a bizarre pattern to develop naturally, but it's exactly what you'd expect to see if his sets are largely artifacts of random pattern-matching on a dataset formed of the earliest known forms of each name;
- it's also bizarre that so many rivers, hills, towns, etc, kept their name for so long before records began, when we know them to have been frequently changeable in recorded times;
- to the extent that some sets may have some etymological validity, their origins appear indistinguishable from any other IE language or combination of languages. The neutralisation of many mid- and low-vowels to /a/, for instance, is exactly what you'd expect to happen if a name were borrowed repeatedly between languages with differing vowel qualities.

The end result is that so far as I can see, if the OEH did not have any basis in reality, Krahe's results would have been exactly the same as they were. And indeed it's clear that that has happened in some cases, where the real solutions have since become clear. [eg one of Krahe's pieces of evidence for an "ap-" root turns out to be a recent river name meaning "the Abbot's stream"].

Quote:
And didn't you speak of a population collapse in Central Europe around 4500 BC, which was replenished by new immigrants, a few months ago?

There was a population decline, followed by increased interbreeding with the surviving mesolithic population. I don't remember a wave of migration, except perhaps into the southern Balkans? But I could easily be forgetting an element here, it's a complicated picture.
Quote:
In my hypothesis, the three "Kurgan" migrations have the same origin and are thus genetically very similar to each other, so it doesn't seem as if there was just one such movement in the genetic data. My argumentation for three waves (for which there seems to be archaeological evidence) is mainly based on linguistic facts. Some scholars assume that the 3000 BC migrations to Britain and Spain were Celtic, but Celtic just can't be that deep. The Celts spoke what essentially still were dialects of one language when the Romans encountered them, and that is not what one would expect in such a large area after 3000 years of separation. I may be old-fashioned, but I still place Proto-Celtic at the Hallstatt culture about 1000-600 BC. This raises the question: What did the genetically "IE-like" immigrants in Copper Age Britain speak, and what are the OEH names found there from, if not Celtic?

All very reasonable.
Quote:
Answer: probably something that forked off the main strain of PIE earlier, i.e. what I call "Aquan".

Other than supporting your conlang, I don't see where that "probably" comes from. When you know that, at the same time, people have migrated from X to A, B, C, D, and E, and their descendents survived, and also F, where their descendents didn't survive, the parsimonious solution is to think that the people in F were probably like all the others. It's not to assume an invisible 'first wave' to X, whose people then fled to F at the same time that the later population was arriving in and spreading from X. That's not impossible, but it's by no means the first-port-of-call "probably" option.
Quote:
Don't be silly. But I admit that mythological evidence not backed by hard facts is vacuous, and the Bronze Age Aquan civilization in the British Isles may be just a flight of fancy that never existed.

As methru says, making your theory explain Atlantis doesn't just not add anything, it makes it harder to take the rest of it seriously.
Quote:
Why "no loanwords"? I am doing some research on substratum loanwords in western IE languages, and I have found so far more than 100 items in Celtic, many of them restricted to Insular Celtic, that have no good IE etymologies and seem to come from something that may have been Aquan. Some of these are also found in Germanic.


There are certainly many loanwords into Celtic. But so far as I'm aware it's not generally considered that the Celtic loanwords match those of Germanic (other than those with a general 'Western' distribution also found in Italic and elsewhere), so there's no need to assume a single substrate into both languages.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:13 am 
Smeric
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Salmoneus wrote:
WeepingElf wrote:
This leaves me dazed and confused. Which population is where? And are the designations your own, or are they used by other scholars as well? As you wrote it up, it all tells me nothing. This is not about showing off knowledge in a way that baffles the reader but doesn't help him understand, it is about sharing it. I hope your source contains good maps.

Don't impugn people's motives with flaming if you can't understand something. In terms of which people were where, see the post you were quoting. No, those aren't official names, just an indication of the cladistics. You can see a diagram in the article, if you prefer.


OK. It probably wasn't your intention, but what you posted yesterday struck me as unhelpful. It's just due to the nature of this difficult and fast-moving science, where outsiders like me have to make do with popular summaries like Ancestral Journeys which tend to be partly out of date already when they get published. Everything's fine, it's not your fault.

Quote:
Quote:

I wouldn't call the Old European Hydronymy "zero evidence".

And I cannot conceive of a way to see it as any more than zero evidence. We've been over this before, but:
- Krahe's mass comparison method, with no requirements for semantic matching and extremely generous degrees of phonological similarity allowed, and focused on 'retrieving' very short 'roots' that may occur with prefixes, suffixes, or unpredictable 'ablaut', is practically guaranteed to create the impression of patterns where there aren't any;
- Krahe's sets, once probably-coincidental outliers are excluded, look remarkably homogenous, implying a very low rate of drift for the thousands and thousands of years to the first historical records, even though the histories of such place names since then have shown much, much higher rates of drift. This is a bizarre pattern to develop naturally, but it's exactly what you'd expect to see if his sets are largely artifacts of random pattern-matching on a dataset formed of the earliest known forms of each name;
- it's also bizarre that so many rivers, hills, towns, etc, kept their name for so long before records began, when we know them to have been frequently changeable in recorded times;
- to the extent that some sets may have some etymological validity, their origins appear indistinguishable from any other IE language or combination of languages. The neutralisation of many mid- and low-vowels to /a/, for instance, is exactly what you'd expect to happen if a name were borrowed repeatedly between languages with differing vowel qualities.

The end result is that so far as I can see, if the OEH did not have any basis in reality, Krahe's results would have been exactly the same as they were. And indeed it's clear that that has happened in some cases, where the real solutions have since become clear. [eg one of Krahe's pieces of evidence for an "ap-" root turns out to be a recent river name meaning "the Abbot's stream"].


Yes, the OEH may just be the linguistic equivalent of ley lines - a recurring but meaningless pattern, resulting from the sheer mass of data points. The fact that different scholars succeeded in interpreting those names with reference to two utterly different languages shows that false positives are very likely here, and the analyses are therefore unreliable.

Quote:
Quote:
And didn't you speak of a population collapse in Central Europe around 4500 BC, which was replenished by new immigrants, a few months ago?

There was a population decline, followed by increased interbreeding with the surviving mesolithic population. I don't remember a wave of migration, except perhaps into the southern Balkans? But I could easily be forgetting an element here, it's a complicated picture.
Quote:
In my hypothesis, the three "Kurgan" migrations have the same origin and are thus genetically very similar to each other, so it doesn't seem as if there was just one such movement in the genetic data. My argumentation for three waves (for which there seems to be archaeological evidence) is mainly based on linguistic facts. Some scholars assume that the 3000 BC migrations to Britain and Spain were Celtic, but Celtic just can't be that deep. The Celts spoke what essentially still were dialects of one language when the Romans encountered them, and that is not what one would expect in such a large area after 3000 years of separation. I may be old-fashioned, but I still place Proto-Celtic at the Hallstatt culture about 1000-600 BC. This raises the question: What did the genetically "IE-like" immigrants in Copper Age Britain speak, and what are the OEH names found there from, if not Celtic?

All very reasonable.
Quote:
Answer: probably something that forked off the main strain of PIE earlier, i.e. what I call "Aquan".

Other than supporting your conlang, I don't see where that "probably" comes from. When you know that, at the same time, people have migrated from X to A, B, C, D, and E, and their descendents survived, and also F, where their descendents didn't survive, the parsimonious solution is to think that the people in F were probably like all the others. It's not to assume an invisible 'first wave' to X, whose people then fled to F at the same time that the later population was arriving in and spreading from X. That's not impossible, but it's by no means the first-port-of-call "probably" option.


Are the three Kurgan waves obsolete? But perhaps "Aquan" is just a "Para-Anatolian" IE branch with a few sound changes that occur elsewhere in IE, such as a Grimm-like consonant shift, a merger of all non-high vowels into /a/, and a few others. So far, I assume that this thing branched off before ablaut arose, but ablaut could just as well have simply been levelled. If the IE branches of Western and Central Europe are considerably shallower than the time when these regions first became IE-speaking (and that's what it looks like), there must have been earlier IE languages that were later eclipsed by the "winners" such as Italic, Celtic and Germanic. (Or the Corded Ware people didn't speak IE but the family spread later.)

Yes, my conlang is based on this thing, but well, it is just a conlang, and of course can't function as evidence of anything. If you are doing both paleolinguistic research and conlangs based on that research, you must carefully restrict the information flow to one direction, namely from the paleolinguistic research to the conlangs.

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Don't be silly. But I admit that mythological evidence not backed by hard facts is vacuous, and the Bronze Age Aquan civilization in the British Isles may be just a flight of fancy that never existed.

As methru says, making your theory explain Atlantis doesn't just not add anything, it makes it harder to take the rest of it seriously.


OK, I shouldn't have mentioned it. Plato's Atlantis is probably just fiction, though Plato may have used motifs from stories in circulation in his time. And the tales of Elves, Hyperboreans etc. are likely best handled with care. Of course, there never was a splendid civilization with pyramids and orichalcum-walled temples in Britain! To explain such tales, it suffices if the place was a bit more prosperous and sophisticated than neighbouring regions.

Consider Bernstorf, Bavaria. There is a local tale about a lost great city there. Now, archaeologists actually have found that "city": a Bronze Age trade settlement, consisting of a few dozen small wooden houses behind a stockade. Certainly not a "great city", not even by the humbler standards of the Middle Ages when 10,000 people were "great", but in its place and time, it was a bigger and more prosperous place than most, which later grew into something even bigger and brighter as the tale was passed down from generation to generation.

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Why "no loanwords"? I am doing some research on substratum loanwords in western IE languages, and I have found so far more than 100 items in Celtic, many of them restricted to Insular Celtic, that have no good IE etymologies and seem to come from something that may have been Aquan. Some of these are also found in Germanic.


There are certainly many loanwords into Celtic. But so far as I'm aware it's not generally considered that the Celtic loanwords match those of Germanic (other than those with a general 'Western' distribution also found in Italic and elsewhere), so there's no need to assume a single substrate into both languages.


My research into these loanwords is still under way, and a lot is still to be done, but there are some which occur in both Celtic and Germanic (and often in other branches, too) but have shapes which speak against a PIE etymology, such as the much-discussed 'apple'-word. And a few of these loanwords look as if they could have IE cognates. But maybe I am just hunting a snark here.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:39 pm 
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Apparently, the Basques are genetic descendants of Neolithic farmers, which probably also means that their language belongs to a stock spread during the "Neolithic Revolution". Thus Basque would in my model neither be a Paleo-Mediterranean nor a Paleo-Atlantic language but a Neolithic Mediterranean ("Cardial-Impresso") one. Under such a scenario, a relationship between Basque and Iberian also seems plausible; there are some hints at such a relationship, but Iberian is difficult the evidence is not clear.

ADDENDUM: This also means that Vennemann's Vasconic hypothesis, according to which Basque is the last surviving member of a language family that spread across all of western Europe in the Mesolithic, is almost certainly wrong (I never was sold to that, anyway). The extinct relatives of Basque are to be sought on the Iberian Peninsula (#1 candidate; Iberian, for whose relationship to Basque there is some evidence) and elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:00 am 
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Very sorry to go back to quite the ancient post, but I'd like to chip in on this:
WeepingElf wrote:
It is unknown when the first languages were spoken in Europe, depending on to which degree Homo heidelbergensis or Homo neanderthalensis had language (they probably did have some kind of language, but perhaps less sophisticated than ours).

Is there any consensus on the language of our predecessors? Apparently the physiology of the Neanderthal would have been no impediment to the development of speech. If their language was indeed less sophisticated than that of Homo Sapiens, in what regard would it be less sophisticated? What linguistic elements would be missing?

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 1:16 pm 
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Raholeun wrote:
What linguistic elements would be missing?

Though an interesting question, I don't think it belongs in this thread, which speculates about the more immediate predecessors of IE. That said, recursion and embedding would probably be missing in an earlier form of language.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:00 pm 
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Raholeun wrote:
Very sorry to go back to quite the ancient post, but I'd like to chip in on this:
WeepingElf wrote:
It is unknown when the first languages were spoken in Europe, depending on to which degree Homo heidelbergensis or Homo neanderthalensis had language (they probably did have some kind of language, but perhaps less sophisticated than ours).

Is there any consensus on the language of our predecessors? Apparently the physiology of the Neanderthal would have been no impediment to the development of speech. If their language was indeed less sophisticated than that of Homo Sapiens, in what regard would it be less sophisticated? What linguistic elements would be missing?


Impossible to say.

We only have one clearly understood example of species-language: human language.

- we don't understand the communication systems of other species. Dolphin language in particular seems extremely expressive, but almost none of it, other than their system of personal names, has been satisfactorily deciphered. Other species (primates, elephants, birds) may have more complex grammar than we realise, due to lack of understanding of these communication systems.

- when teaching other animals human languages, we tend to find that some can learn arbitrary words, but that their ability to understand human grammar is extremely limited. However, as they're being taught the language of a different species, we don't know how much of that is an inability to use grammar, and how much is an inability to understand alien (i.e. human) grammar.

- we don't know when language emerged, or what relationship language had with brain development. In one model, language develops automatically as the brain grows; in another, language is 'invented' much later. The key thing here is that we don't really know whether 'language' is instinctual (i.e. a behaviour inherent to creatures with our genes) or whether 'language' is a cultural phenomenon. It's almost impossible to test, because almost no human groups have ever developed in complete, non-linguistic isolation, and those who did suffered from a range of mental and physical abnormalities (either causing or caused by their isolation), so they're not really a fair test case. So there are three scenarios here:

a) early humans evolved language before the split. In this model, neanderthals probably evolved similar language skills to humans, although possibly a little different
b) modern humans evolved language long after the split (alongside major later advances in art and technology). In this model, neanderthals just never evolved linguistic abilities, so if they could 'speak' it would have been very primitive.
c) modern humans invented language long after the split (alongside other advances, as above). However, in this model, language doesn't require any specific biological mutation, so Neanderthals (being broadly similar in brains) could well have learnt at leas the concept of language from contact with humans.

So Neanderthals might have spoken anything from "primitive noun-only symbolic codes like other primates" through to "exactly the same languages as humans". it's impossible to know. What's more, because we only have "language" and "no language" as case studies, we've no way of telling "in what order" language develops, or how long it takes to develop (is it rule by rule, or is it a sudden leap once the groundwork is established?). Except it's probably the case that nouns develop before syntax does.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:56 pm 
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Salmoneus wrote:
Dolphin language in particular seems extremely expressive, but almost none of it, other than their system of personal names, has been satisfactorily deciphered.

That "system of personal names" has, afaik, also not been "deciphered". See e.g. here.

Quote:
Other species (primates, elephants, birds) may have more complex grammar than we realise, due to lack of understanding of these communication systems.

Even though me may not "understand" their communication systems, it is pretty easy to test whether there is any complexity to a communication system, by checking for repeated elements etc. So far, these elements are absent, so to state that they would have a "more complex grammar than we realise" is imho nonsense.

Quote:
However, as they're being taught the language of a different species, we don't know how much of that is an inability to use grammar, and how much is an inability to understand alien (i.e. human) grammar.

Time and time again, behaviour that seemed exclusively human has been found in animals, and especially our closest relatives turned out to be capable of such behaviour. Given their close relationship, common descent, rather than parallel evolution is the logical hypothesis here. The fact that they can understand and use abstract concepts, but cannot use any kind of grammar, seems to indicate that they do not posses the ability to understand or use that. To state that just maybe, they have some kind of "alien" grammar of their own, that we have never discovered even though they are one of the most studied group of animals, is imho very, very wishful thinking.

Quote:
The key thing here is that we don't really know whether 'language' is instinctual (i.e. a behaviour inherent to creatures with our genes) or whether 'language' is a cultural phenomenon. It's almost impossible to test, because almost no human groups have ever developed in complete, non-linguistic isolation

I would assume you are aware of the case of Nigaraguan sign language? You do not consider this language genesis? Or do you consider them to not be "isolated" enough? Personally I think this makes a very strong case to build a model upon. Also, it kinda mirrors the way creoles originate after a stage of pidgin.

Quote:
Except it's probably the case that nouns develop before syntax does.

Well, yes, that's a bit of a no-brainer, because syntax without nouns doesn't have much use :). Also, the calls of certain monkeys for specific kinds of dangerous animals could be called "nouns", though there's no syntax at all, just single "noun" utterances.

I would propose the order "single nouns" -> "combining single nouns" -> "nouns + verbs" -> "more complex grammar".


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:19 pm 
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jal wrote:
That "system of personal names" has, afaik, also not been "deciphered".
According to a Google Talk by an expert in the field posted on YouTube in April, the names are still undeciphered.
jal wrote:
Even though me may not "understand" their communication systems, it is pretty easy to test whether there is any complexity to a communication system, by checking for repeated elements etc. So far, these elements are absent, so to state that they would have a "more complex grammar than we realise" is imho nonsense.
Also when the repetition continues many times with no change.
jal wrote:
Quote:
However, as they're being taught the language of a different species, we don't know how much of that is an inability to use grammar, and how much is an inability to understand alien (i.e. human) grammar.

Time and time again, behaviour that seemed exclusively human has been found in animals, and especially our closest relatives turned out to be capable of such behaviour. Given their close relationship, common descent, rather than parallel evolution is the logical hypothesis here. The fact that they can understand and use abstract concepts, but cannot use any kind of grammar, seems to indicate that they do not posses the ability to understand or use that. To state that just maybe, they have some kind of "alien" grammar of their own, that we have never discovered even though they are one of the most studied group of animals, is imho very, very wishful thinking.
I disagree, as there still is a lot humans have to learn about communication in those animals. That said, it still is possible that they don't have an alien grammar.

Regarding instinct, I point you to Zompist's website: http://zompist.com/langorg.htm

Given the new discoveries in Morocco and Israel, can we really claim humans understand what happened between writing and Homo erectus that well?

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:36 am 
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mèþru wrote:
I disagree, as there still is a lot humans have to learn about communication in those animals.

With what do you disagree exactly? And why do you think we still have a lot to learn about "those animals" (i.e. our closest relatives)? What kind of "alien grammar" would at all be possible? Gestures? Vocalizations? What?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:42 am 
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jal wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
Dolphin language in particular seems extremely expressive, but almost none of it, other than their system of personal names, has been satisfactorily deciphered.

That "system of personal names" has, afaik, also not been "deciphered". See e.g. here.

No offence, but that's an unusually stupid/fatuous article from languagelog. Sure, it's vacuously true that names in dolphin language do not, so far as we are aware, have exactly the same syntax as explored in pages 515-523 of the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Because, you know, they're dolphins.

But the existence of signature whistles seems uncontroversial - although one guy has lead the research, for 50 years, because there aren't that many dolphin language specialists in general, that doesn't make him a crackpot, and many other scientists have accepted his ideas, and been published in respectable peer-reviewed journals. Pullum, on the other hand, has no idea what he's talking about, so I'll take the experts over him any day. Signature whistles are constant vocal expressions that uniquely identify specific individuals, and are recognised as doing such by other individuals - therefore they are by definition names. To say otherwise is just philosophically ignorant. If they are not used exactly as humans use names, that's interesting, but it doesn't stop them being names. And Pullum's counterargument is that dolphins repeat their name if you say it to them, and humans don't? That's just silly. Dolphins aren't humans.

[it's also not true. If you go up to Geoffrey Pullum and say "hi, I'm Geoffrey Pullum!", it's actually quite likely that he WILL say something like "oh, I'm Geoffrey Pullum too!" (or "no, I'M Geoffrey Pullum!" depending on whether he believes you). Likewise, since dolphin names seem primarily used in introductions, that experiment is essentially going "(I'm) XYZ!" and the dolphin shouts back "(but I'm) XYZ!?", which I think seems like a pretty human response, actually.]
Quote:
Quote:
Other species (primates, elephants, birds) may have more complex grammar than we realise, due to lack of understanding of these communication systems.

Even though me may not "understand" their communication systems, it is pretty easy to test whether there is any complexity to a communication system, by checking for repeated elements etc. So far, these elements are absent, so to state that they would have a "more complex grammar than we realise" is imho nonsense.

No, it's not easy to test by checking for repeated elements etc. For one thing, many animals DO communicate in streams that incorporate many repeated elements, including elements that incorporate other repeated elements in various combinations. That's uncontroversial.

The two questions are:
a) are the same patterns of repetition and incorporation used across multiple utterances, much more than would be the case through chance?
b) do these patterns bear any consistent relationship to any hypothetical meaning?

These questions are harder to answer, particularly because it's almost impossible to elicit specific utterances from animals in the wild - so much of the time we've no idea what the animal is "trying to say", so we can't compare the hypothetical meaning to the string to deduce any consistent relationships. Sometimes we can have a pretty good guess - for instance, although songbirds have "grammar" almost (if not in some cases as) complicated as human grammar, with repetition and embedding and discenable generative patterns, we're reasonably confident that they're not actually "saying" much at all, and that their songs are more analogous to music (which also, of course, is grammatical) than to speech, because of the restricted and repetitive circumstances of their utterance - they mostly seem to just be saying "I'm here, this tree is taken!" and "hey pretty girl, look at me!", and the great complexity of some of their songs doesn't seem to represent any specific function beyond that.

Other animals, though, do seem to communicate in more complicated and hence less consistent ways, which makes it really hard to guess what 'meaning' (if any) they are trying to convey, and hence if they do so grammatically or not. Most likely, they don't - but that's a guess, and a guess heavily reliant upon attempts to teach animals human languages, which may be entirely unrepresentative.


A more fundamental problem, however, is that any attempt to record what words an animal says relies upon assumptions about what 'words' are that are increasingly being challenged. It seems that many of the smarter animals - dolphins, elephants, chimps - use multiple channels of information simultaneously. Dolphins use whistles, but probably also clicks (but not all clicks, because some are obviously echolocative), and probably also physical gestures (but not all their gestures, because some are just random movements). Studies of chimps in the wild suggest that their "words" rely as heavily on things like posture and orientation as on sound. But again, of course, a lot of their posturing and orienting and gesturing and even some of their vocalising is clearly NOT linguistic in intent. So it's hard to know what type of 'phonemes' to be looking for, and then hard to work out which are actually phonemes and which are non-linguistic 'interference' in that channel, and then hard to work out what the 'phonemes' specifically are (which postures are significantly "the same" despite having obvious differences, and which are "different" despite being very similar?).
[of course, multi-channel communication could just be multiple simple communications at once. OR, multi-channel communication could be a single complex communication in which the data in each channel interacts. It's very hard to tell which is which without a vast amount of exhaustive data to analyse]

[non-deaf humans, of course, use essentially single-channel communication, in the form of a stream of vocalisations - gestures and expressions and motions are at most expressive augmentations. But there is no logical reason why all languages must be single-channel.]

Wild animal studies of these things are clearly in the very primitive stage, and nowhere near extensive or sophisticated enough to rule out syntactic behaviour in non-humans. In many cases, we've only just begun to even start looking at what may be relevent channels (in the case of elephants, for instance, their use of subsonic vocalisations has been badly understudied, in part due to lack of availability of the relevent tech in the field). [now, 'syntax' needn't mean syntax as complex as human syntax, of course!]
Quote:
Quote:
However, as they're being taught the language of a different species, we don't know how much of that is an inability to use grammar, and how much is an inability to understand alien (i.e. human) grammar.

Time and time again, behaviour that seemed exclusively human has been found in animals, and especially our closest relatives turned out to be capable of such behaviour. Given their close relationship, common descent, rather than parallel evolution is the logical hypothesis here. The fact that they can understand and use abstract concepts, but cannot use any kind of grammar, seems to indicate that they do not posses the ability to understand or use that. To state that just maybe, they have some kind of "alien" grammar of their own, that we have never discovered even though they are one of the most studied group of animals, is imho very, very wishful thinking.

And to take such primitive and sparse data and completely rule out the possibility of any form of syntactic behaviour ever being discovered is in my opinion even more wishful thinking.
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The key thing here is that we don't really know whether 'language' is instinctual (i.e. a behaviour inherent to creatures with our genes) or whether 'language' is a cultural phenomenon. It's almost impossible to test, because almost no human groups have ever developed in complete, non-linguistic isolation

I would assume you are aware of the case of Nigaraguan sign language? You do not consider this language genesis? Or do you consider them to not be "isolated" enough? Personally I think this makes a very strong case to build a model upon. Also, it kinda mirrors the way creoles originate after a stage of pidgin.

I don't consider it isolated enough. The children in that case had exposure to home sign systems, fingerspelling, and study of spoken linguistic behaviours through lipreading of Spanish - they were being taught intensively. I accept that they did not understand the specific grammar of Spanish, and that ISN is more or less sui generis ab origine. But it is possible that although they did not learn any other language before creating ISN, they may have learned the concept of language.

The analogy here would be to something like the Cherokee Syllabary. The story goes that the guy who invented that was illiterate - he was not able to read any other script. But clearly the idea of a script was inspired by his observation of the reading-behaviour of Europeans (and many symbols are borrowed from European scripts, in random ways). So when we talk about the origin of writing, Cherokee writing is generally not considered an independent invention of writing. Indeed, it's probable that there have been only two or three independent inventions of writing, though there are many more scripts that have been invented without specific descent from a predecessor script.

Actually, that's an interesting subject. The fact that we know that writing has been invented independently, repeatedly, shows that writing is, as it were, something hardwired into the brain - something that repeatedly arises in the right circumstances. There is, as it were, a writing faculty. But the fact that it has been invented so rarely, and yet has spread so quickly by imitation once invented, shows that it is primarily a cultural practice: there is a latent capacity that in almost all cases has had to be triggered by external cultural influence. So it's entirely possible that a similar 'third way' option may be valid for spoken language: that humans may have an innate tendency to invent language, but also that most language has spread as a cultural practice from a small number of original innovators.


Anyway, I don't know the answer. Personally, I suspect it's closer to instinct than to culture, and examples like ISN certainly bolster that interpretation. But alternative interpretations have not yet been ruled out, and probably never will be.
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Except it's probably the case that nouns develop before syntax does.

Well, yes, that's a bit of a no-brainer, because syntax without nouns doesn't have much use :). Also, the calls of certain monkeys for specific kinds of dangerous animals could be called "nouns", though there's no syntax at all, just single "noun" utterances.

It's not a no-brainer at all - syntax could develop at the same time as nouns.
Quote:
I would propose the order "single nouns" -> "combining single nouns" -> "nouns + verbs" -> "more complex grammar".

Possible, but far from certain. It's possible to have quite complex grammar without categoriality, particularly in languages that are highly restricted in function.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:29 pm 
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To get back to the main subject - European Homo sapiens languages before Indo-European - I am trying to find out whether the Neolithicization of the British Isles was demic or not. Wikipedia and Eupedia seem to say "yes", but things do not seem to be all that clear, and these sources may be out of date, human genetics being such a fast-moving science that usually produces less than clear (at least to laypeople like me) results. If the Neolithic way of life was brought to the British Isles by immigrants from Central Europe, the languages of Neolithic Britain and Ireland would probably be related to those of the LBK people, whatever languages those may have spoken.

(I am asking this because I am going to redo Razaric, the language family of the "British Dwarves", and considering making it a Para-Kartvelian language, as I fancy the LBK language to be like.)

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