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Re: Old European-contact conlang

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Tuesday, October 7, 2008, 19:30

On Tue, 7 Oct 2008 12:11:59 -0400, ROGER MILLS wrote:

> If you're a reader of Cybalist (devoted to Indo-European), you may be > familiar with Patrick Ryan, who claims to be reconstructing THE > Proto-Language (as I gather, the ancestor of Nostratic itself). I don't have > his URL but could find it. His work and theories are sufficiently > off-the-wall that, as some of his detractors claim, "Proto-Language" might > well be considered a conlang :-))))
And not even a good naturalistic one :(
> Another controversial participant there is Torsten Pedersen (sp.?) who often > cites "Old European" material obtained (as far as I understand it) from > materials by Hans Kuhn and perhaps others. It's difficult to tell, but I > gather the time frame is prior to the IE-ization of Europe, and it's > possible "Old European" is actually a dialect of IE. There's also mention of > the "river-names" and "bird-names" languages (which may actually be Old > Eur.), the evidence for all these lies in words that fail to exhibit > expected sound changes in Germanic and/or Latin.
Indeed, you meet all sorts of crackpots and speculators in this field. The real scholars tend to be silent on the issue because they are very aware of the fact that we know virtually nothing about those languages and everything one could say about them is necessarily speculative in nature. The late, lamented Hans Krahe, who laid the foundation of the study of the "Old European hydronymy" (a network of apparently recurring river names spanning most of western Europe), assumed that those river names were IE, but while there appear to be IE etymologies for them that semantically even make some sense, they seem not to have undergone the same sound changes as the inherited words of the languages in which they are attested, so they must be borrowed. One phonological problem is that the river names show the un-IE vowel /a/ where PIE has *e or *o. Another scholar, Theo Vennemann, assumes the names are from sister languages of Basque, but his etymologies are even more shaky than Krahe's, and the Old European hydronymy apparently shows a gap between the Garonne and Ebro rivers, i.e. in the *only* area of which we *know* that Basque or something related to it was ever spoken in history. My personal hypothesis is that the Old European hydronymy is from a sister language of PIE, which split off before the system of PIE ablaut developed, at a time when pre-PIE had a three-vowel system centred on */a/ (the other vowels were the less frequent */i/ and */u/). Of course, we as conlangers may play with these hypotheses. My Albic conlang family is meant to represent a surviving offshot of the "peri-IE" language of my hypothesis. ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf


Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>