Re: Is language cyclic?
|From:||Dan Sulani <dnsulani@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, June 23, 2002, 9:07|
On 21 June, Christophe Grandsire wrote:
> > That leads me to another question. How old do linguists think PIE is?
> > (Check how much green stuff is growing on it. Sorry, I had to say
> > that.)
> I've read figures going from 5000 to 8000 years old for the "oldest" form
> reconstructed. Needless to say it's not something easy to know, since wedon't
> have any archeological evidence that would allow a datation. Thecomparative
> method reconstructs a possible ancestor of the language compared, but itcannot
> say anything about the age of the reconstruction (indeed, it oftenreconstructs
> structures that didn't ever cohabit but are of different ages and formedand
> disappeared at different times).
Recently, I was (re-)reading the book by J. P. Mallory, entitled:
"In Search of the Indo-Europeans". It's an interesting
treatment of the subject, even if it is 11 years old. Mallory
tries, among other aims, to delimit possible times for the _proto_ lang
by considering documented inscrpitions of known _daughter_ langs
(This should give you a limit on how recent the proto-lang was spoken,
the assumption being that proto-langs don't coexist with daughter langs.
But what about Latin?) and by archeological arguments
(for example: PIE reconstructions for the word "horse"
and terms relating to raising and using
horses would imply that we can date Proto-Indo-European at least to
after the domestication of the horse, for which we have an approximate
date, known from archeological investigations. The same goes for
wheeled vehicles and other items. Although, Mallory cautions about
relying too much upon reconstructed meanings, since we don't know
how much the reconstructed terms originally included in their definitions.
For example, if "horse" originally only meant "wild horse" and that after
domestication, the same name was retained for the animal one rode,
and all this happened before any daughter langs broke off, that might
be grounds for extending PIE backward in time. The problem is that,
according to Mallory, we don't know. )
IIRC, Mallory concludes that PIE dates from about 4500 BCE
to 2500 BCE.
Note: I'm not making any claims to the accuracy of his conclusions.
After all, there have been 11 more years of linguistic, archeological
(and IIRC even genetic) research added to what was known when
he wrote his book. I'd assume that it would be best to check out PIE sites
on the web for more modern updates.
likehsna rtem zuv tikuhnuh auag inuvuz vaka'a
A word is an awesome thing.