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zompist bboard • View topic - The Great Proto-Indo-European Thread

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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 5:36 am 
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 8:18 am 
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Moreover, invoking evolutionary radiation doesn't counter WE's point. Indeed, they asserted that a family spreading out is the major source of diversity, just not the only one.


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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 11:19 am 
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 2:43 pm 
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So let me explain what my thoughts are. First of all, I am definitely NOT proposing that IE came from Anatolia.

The focal point of dialectal diversity within IE is in the Balkans. There we had IE languages like Dacian, Thracian, Phrygian, etc. And we know more about them than just the names of these languages. Through various inscriptions we know that they were really Indo-European languagues. Also most of the existing IE language families like Greek, Armenian, Albanian, Balto-Slavic, Italic, Celtic and Germanic are (or were once) spoken close to the Balkans. But on the steppe there was just Indo-Iranian.

Also, all IE branches share some basic agricultural vocabulary. Cognate words for concepts like 'to sow', 'to grind', 'plough', 'yoke' and 'grain' exist in various eastern and western IE branches. But there is no evidence of any arable agriculture on the Pontic-Caspian steppe east of the Dniepr until after 2000BCE. Mallory made this point clearly in his paper 'Twenty-first century clouds over Indo-European homelands' (2013). So basically, any existing IE language family must have been west of the Dniepr at one time.

This is not a big issue since Yamna also extended west of the Dniepr. And there were predecessor cultures like Sredni-Stog and Dniepr-Donets that also extended west of the Dniepr and had contacts with the Balkan farmers. Also both Indo-Iranian and Tocharian were rich in Y-DNA R1a. It is commonly assumed that there was not much R1a on the steppe and that R1a is more of a forest-steppe / Corded-Ware haplogroup. So it is not crazy to assume that neither of these language families came from the eastern Pontic-Caspian steppe.

For Anatolian there is one additional issue. If Anatolian really split off before 4000BCE and went trough the Balkans, it is likely derived from the one of the Yamna predecessors in the west of the Pontic steppe. At this time, these predecessors had no or very little CHG admixture. In other words, Anatolian may be a branch that had no Caucasian influence whatsoever.


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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 4:29 pm 
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It's instructive to look at the Anatolian reflexes of some of these words. For example, *seh₁-, which gives "sow" everywhere else, yields šāi- "press" in Hittite, and *h₂erh₃-, which gives "plough", yields ḫarra- "crush, grind". For "plough", Hittite apparently uses two verbs together, ḫārš- and terepp-, the former being related to ḫarra-, the latter being from PIE *trep- "turn". I don't know which verb you're referring to as "grind" though. It follows that the semantic development to agriculture-specific verbs happened later.

I don't know if you missed or ignored the earlier comments about how high apparent diversity in the Balkans does not necessarily point to an origin there, so I'll repeat it for you now: the apparent plethora of languages in the Balkans may well not be due to there actually being a lot of languages there - the poorly-known languages are not known well enough to be able to say for certain that they are not more closely related in some manner to each other, or to the other well-known languages. For example, Illyrian is often thought to be connected with Albanian. Moreover, even if there were many languages there, it could potentially be secondary, due to multiple waves of languages moving into the region.


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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 5:15 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 5:48 pm 
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On the topic of why there are many branches in the Balkans, several options present themselves:

a) it's the primary radiation point for PIE

b) it's a secondary radiation point for a PIE that originated elsewhere

c) it's a refuge area: there used to be many more PIE branches but most have been steamrollered by later migrations - specifically, by Celtic and Iranian, two highly aggressive cultures that came to dominate vast areas. As a result, in those areas the other branches didn't survive long enough to be attested. For instance, Howl mentions Iranian dominating the steppe. OK. But there's no evidence of Iranian (which probably originated near the Caspian in Sintashta) anywhere on the western steppe until the Scythian migration. Before that, the area was dominated by the Cimmerians - what did they speak? Clearly Indo-European, but the handful of attested names can't be definitively shown to be Iranian (and as they're the names of late-era ruler after the Scythian invasions, they may not be native Cimmerian anyway). Maybe Cimmerian was in its own branch - we'll never know. Now, some ancient sources suggest a connection between the Cimmerians and the Thracians - but Thracian survived to be attested, and Cimmerian (basically) didn't. So Thracian looks like a branch, and Cimmerian gets forgotten. Likewise, virtually no hint of any of the PIE languages of western europe before Celtic has survived (except maybe Lusitanian in Iberia). And absolutely no hint of the PIE languages spoken in Siberia!

d) the Balkans were a relatively advanced (so there's some writing) area adjacent to Greek and Roman civilisation (so there's lot of archaeology, and some ancient references and descriptions). Is it a great surprise that languages adjacent to Greece and Rome got attested when others didn't?

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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 3:33 am 
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 10:08 am 
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 2:14 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 5:41 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 5:49 pm 
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Congratulations, you've successfully named languages which are widely agreed to form a proper sub-group of PIE, and hence have only proven a meaning "to plough" for their common ancestor, which is not PIE itself.


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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 7:41 am 
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 2:08 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 3:37 pm 
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Yes, pretty much. In my eyes, the evidence is pretty clear for the adoption of agriculture slightly post-dating the breakup of PIE, which would explain both the inconsistent semantics between Anatolian and the rest of IE, and the consistency in the European branches.


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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 4:02 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 2:12 am 
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It is my sincere wish that the most knowledgeable people in this thread decide to bundle their forces and create a podcast on PIE. It would be blissful.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:03 am 
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 12:27 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:24 am 
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:20 pm 
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Today I shall talk about two ideas about the origin of the thematic declension and the sigmatic nominative.

The thematic declension

It has been observed for long that most of the oldest thematic nouns are adjectives. My idea is that these adjectives in turn descend from genitives of athematic nouns in *-os which were reanalyzed such that the *-s of the ending was interpreted as a nominative ending and the *-o- as part of the stem, and the remaining cases formed accordingly from this new stem.

The sigmatic nominative

The PIE sigmatic nominative has been connected to the genitive by several scholars. My idea is that this genitive acquired use as a topic marker ('of the X' > 'as for the X'), developed a different ablaut, and was then reinterpreted as a nominate case after the old active-stative alignment of the language had given way to the split-ergative pattern we see in Hittite.

What do you think?

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2018 8:30 pm 
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The idea of an ergative origin has been proposed before, and I don't think it works. Just about the only thing it has going for it is that both nominative and genitive singulars end in *s, although I believe it was Kortlandt who also connected the neuter thematic nom-acc to his reconstruction of the athematic genitive plural in *-om. The shared *o in thematics is pretty much irrelevant. Incidentally, the ergativity in Hittite is clearly innovative! As far as I know, it's not matched in the other Anatolian languages, and its endings are just the nominative singular and plural of a derived noun in *-e/ont-.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:41 am 
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Kath, either you are reading inattentively, or you just like whacking strawmen. I wrote nothing of the sigmatic nominative emerging from an earlier ergative suffix. I only speculated that a genitive may have become a topic marker, neither of which has anything to do with ergatives. Also, I now admit that this idea perhaps isn't as good as I thought yesterday.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 9:45 am 
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Whether you call it a topic marker or an ergative case, it's the exact same development: genitive -> intermediary -> nominative, and I still don't buy it.


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