The Indoeuropeans In Space And Time

In assessing the evidence from the diverse literatures and traditions of the Indo-European peoples, we shall need to have a notion of their historical relationships. Just as in reconstructing a manuscript archetype one cannot simply take agreements between any two or three manuscripts as reflecting the archetype reading, but must consider their stemmatic relationships, and the degree to which these relationships are confused by cross-contamination, so with Indo-European.

The first question concerns dialect groupings within Indo-European.10 There is a growing consensus that the Anatolian branch, represented by Hittite and related languages of Asia Minor, was the first to diverge from common Indo-European, which continued to evolve for some time after the split before breaking up further. This raises a problem of nomenclature. It means that with the decipherment of Hittite the 'Indo-European' previously reconstructed acquired a brother in the shape of proto-Anatolian, and the archetype of the family had to be put back a stage. E. H. Sturtevant coined a new term 'Indo-Hittite' (better would have been 'Euro-Hittite'), and at a recent conference Robert Drews advocated using this for the larger construct and reserving 'Indo-European' for what remains after the separation of Anatolian.11 The great majority of linguists, however, use 'Indo-European' to include Anatolian, and have done, naturally enough, ever since Hittite was recognized to be 'an Indo-European language'. They will no doubt continue to do so. For the time being we lack a convenient term to denote the non-Anatolian side of the family. I shall call it 'Mature Indo-European' (MIE), and use 'Proto-Indo-European' (PIE) for the archetype of the whole family (Drews's PIH).

10 Among recent works on this topic see Gamkrelidze-Ivanov (1995), 325-74; EIEC 550-6 s.v. Subgrouping; Berkeley Linguistic Society: Proceedings of the Twenty-fourth Annual Meeting: Special Session in Indo-European Subgroupings (Berkeley 1998).

11 In Drews (2001), 250. It may be mentioned here that some scholars regard Etruscan as representing another branch of the family, related to Anatolian. See F. R. Adrados, JIES 17 (1989), 363-83; F. C. Woudhuizen, JIES 19 (1991), 133-50 and 29 (2001), 505-7; doubted by E. Neu, HS 104 (1991), 9-28; response by Adrados, HS 107 (1994), 54-76.

Within MIE, the clearest major sub-group is an eastern one characterized by a series of linguistic innovations and represented by Indo-Iranian, Armenian, Phrygian, and Greek. It is sometimes called Graeco-Aryan.12 To the north, Slavonic and Baltic seem to be closely related to each other, and in the west Celtic and Italic. But overall one finds a network of multiple overlapping links connecting different languages and groups, especially where they are neighbours, or have been at some time in the past: for example connecting Slavonic with Iranian, or Germanic with Italic or Celtic on the one side and with Baltic on the other. Linguistic changes (especially phonetic changes) frequently cross dialect and language boundaries and so blur them, and it may come about that a dialect of one language shares features with neighbour languages that other dialects do not.13 When one bears in mind that most peoples have had different neighbours at different times, and so been exposed successively to different linguistic influences, it is not surprising if the outcome is a complex layered pattern that resists instant stemmatic analysis.

An example of an isogloss that once appeared fundamental for language grouping, but is now seen to be of secondary importance, is the celebrated satem shift. This is the generalized change of palatal velar consonants to sibilants, as illustrated by the [s] in Avestan satom 'a hundred' corresponding to the [k] in Latin centum or Greek e-Karov. In the nineteenth century Indo-European languages were routinely divided into centum and satem languages, and this was taken to be a basic dichotomy. As we now understand, the absence of the satem shift is not a significant indicator of a relationship between languages. Its presence does make a link, but only a superficial one, as the shift was an areal phenomenon which affected a number of languages that were in contact at the time, cutting across older established and more basic divisions. The satem languages include Indo-Iranian, Armenian, and Slavonic, but not Greek or Phrygian. The shift thus affected only a part of the Graeco-Aryan territories, together with some other lands adjoining them.

The central part of the Indo-European area is represented by little-known ancient languages such as Illyrian, Thracian, and Dacian, and by modern Albanian. Some regard Albanian as descended from ancient Illyrian, while others connect it rather with Dacian. Thracian and Albanian, and probably the other two, are satem languages. Dacian and Thracian are considered to be

12 On the term Aryan, which in modern usage refers to Indo-Iranian, see p. 142. For the Graeco-Aryan grouping cf. Kretschmer (1896), 168-70; Durante (1976), 18-30; Euler (1979), 18-23 (history of views since 1858); James Clackson, The Linguistic Relationship between Armenian and Greek (Oxford 1994), who contests the belief often encountered that Greek and Armenian have a specially close relationship within the group.

closely related, and to show some affinities with Baltic.14 Links have also been seen between Thracian and the Anatolian languages Lydian and Luwian.15

For the most part the pattern of affinities and distances between the various Indo-European languages and language groups corresponds fairly well to the geographical relationships of their earliest recorded speakers. The striking exception is Tocharian, a language, or rather two kindred languages, spoken in the second half of the first millennium ce around the Tarim basin in Chinese Turkestan. It shows no close connections with the languages of the east.

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