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THEORY: the PIE Urheimat [was Re: Nostratic]

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Friday, December 19, 2003, 8:06
From:    Rob Haden <magwich78@...>
> >No. If PIE comes from Anatolia, one needs some *very* complex > >migration patterns to explain the similarities between IE and Uralic. > > I completely agree! I honestly can't see how anyone can claim that PIE > came from Anatolia.
Hi, sorry to jump in on this conversation. I'd just like to point out that archaeologists dropped the exceedingly naive notions behind the Maria-Gimbutas-style PIE-migrations decades ago. (More or less to paraphrase something she wrote in the early 90s: "Evil patriarchal hordes sweep in off the plains with their war-like customs and directly impose their language on the peaceful matriarchal mother-goddess-worshipping agriculturalists" -- I'm not actually exaggerating much here.) Nowadays, far more emphasis is placed on processual changes that involve markets and social contact -- not necessarily peaceful, but archaeologists have dropped the assumption that all changes between one horizon-layer and another are necessarily result of _Voelkerwanderungen_. There are many problems with the out-of-Anatolia hypothesis, but its central virtue is that it manages to explain language-change by known facts about language replacement. Namely, we know certain things about demographic change in late prehistoric Europe -- what grains they ate, how much meat they consumed, what tools they used to acquire and process these foods, how long they lived, what their likely fertility rate was, etc. These facts can be correlated to modern understanding of language-replacement situations that are ongoing today. In many aboriginal tribes today, there are a number of crucial factors that lead to language death, including their overall population, what their fertility rate is, how much access they have to outside cultures, whether access to external cultures would result in a marked increased access to everyday needs like food and clothing. The key insight of the Anatolian hypothesis is that it connects the known expansion of agriculturalists from the Konya plain to demographic changes that must have altered the language balance between hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists. It does not explain many particularities about the IE expansion -- but then, the old Voelkerwanderung-model ends up saying the same thing ("The Tocharians are in central Asia because some IE people moved there.") In my tentative opinion (and I'm no expert on the Urheimat question) a certain compromise is called for. Yes, there really was an IE (or Indo-Hittite, or pre-Indo-Hittite, or whatever) expansion out of Anatolia into the Balkans by means of demic-expansion a la Renfrew, and on occasion mass-movements. Pastoralism sets in later (pastoralism is known to arise as a by-product of agricultural societies), and this leads to a later reinvasion of the Balkans in some manner (possibly by demic-expansion but more likely by Voelkerwanderung) which explains certain genetic data provided by Cavalli-Sforza as well as remains of destroyed citadels which Gimbutas made so famous. Presumably, in this model, the Tocharians form a coherent enough people to migrate eastward shortly after Hittite breaks off (i.e., early in the history of IE) and before any of the other branches of the family have differentiated. Renfrew has problems with Indo-Aryan, because it seems to share many features with Balto- Slavic among other branches. Thus, it may be that the early Indo- Aryans did something much like the ancient story says they did, save that they did so *before* agriculture was prevalent in the Indus Valley (and thus were not immediately absorbed into the far larger agricultural population as would be expected). Indo- Aryan may have only later superceded indigenous languages when they picked up agricultural practices there, and began demographic expansion. This is mostly speculation, but it's at least informed speculation. :) ========================================================================= Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally, Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of 1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter. Chicago, IL 60637