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OT (?) Balkan Sprachbund

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 28, 2006, 19:15
Roger Mills wrote:
> Eldin Raigmore wrote: > > >>Naturally. Modern Greek is in that [Balkan] Sprachbund, but before the >>fall of the >>Roman Empire that Sprachbund wouldn't have existed, at least not in its >>present form. >> > > An interesting question: What is really known about the ethnic makeup of the > Balkans prior to the Slavic influx-- aside from a few vague names > "Dalmatians, Illyrians, Dacians, Macedonians" et al.-- and, I gather, some > inscriptions difficult to interpret.
Correct. The fragments of language are regarded as being IE derived. Some people talk about a Daco-Illyrian language group. Others IIRC related Dacian to Phrygian (also of IE origin). But the amount of evidence is too fragmentary to form sure conclusions. The question of ancient Macedonian is controversial; some thing it was related to Greek or even a Greek dialect, others that it was related to the IE of Thrace & Phrygia. Again we do not have enough evidence. And when the Macedonians took to writing in a big way they consciously adopted Attic Greek. (The Romanians and the occasional
> Albanian on Cybalist get very excited about these questions :-)) ).
They do, don't they. I was plagued by an Albanian who tried to convince me that Pelasgian (whatever that may be), Etruscan (regarded by most as non-IE) & Greek were all descended from Albanian. He got quite upset when I didn't go along with this claim. More recently a Romanian guy who has discovered my Eteocretan stuff has been contacting. But he is far more rational :) Apparently there was a theory put forward in Romania in the 19th cent that Dacian was 'proto-Latin' and that modern Romanian is descended not from Vulgar Latin, like the other Romance langs, but from Dacian. No one AFAIK outside of Romania takes that seriously.
> Were > even the Albanians indigenous to the area, or later arrivals (late Roman > period, or even later, Byzantine?).
Probably descended from the ancient Illyrians.
> > Apparently the pre-Slavic population of Bulgaria was Turkic (Central Asian?)
Yes, the Bulgars were Turkic.
> in origin (leftovers from the Hunnic invasions? Who was there before that?).
Yep - the westward thrust of the Huns prompted the Bulgars, then living between the Black Sea & the Caspian, to move also. Presumably, in the spirit of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em", they join with the Huns as they swept into central Europe. When the Huns were eventually defeated, the Bulgars made their way down into Balkans and establish a kingdom there in 6th century. Who was there before? It was part of the Eastern Roman Empire, so by that time I guess it was pretty much a mixed population, probably speaking Vulgar Lain rather than Greek, but I expect both languages could be heard.
> One statement in Toynbee really surprised me (assuming he's correct)-- viz., > that the present-day population of Greece is something like 50% Slavic in > origin. (There was, according to him, a period when Greece or at least the > Peloponnese, became severely depopulated; Slavic immigrants moved in.) I > wonder if modern DNA analysis bears this out in any way?
I do not know whether there's been any DNA analysis done, but it is reckoned that there was substantial Slav settlement in Greece. That the Slavs there took to speaking was because of the prestige position of Greek; for the same reason Germanic peoples like the Franks & the Normans adopted the local variety of Latin (i.e. old French) over in Gaul.
> In any case the Slavic movement into the entire area must have been massive, > no?
Yes, I think it must have been -- Ray ================================== ================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760