The History of Language and Ethnolinguistic Theories/Hypotheses Katie Agnos Chapter 6 Language Formation • The process of classifying languages includes: linguists and linguistic geographers studying relationships among languages. • One way to find similarities is to look for sound shifts (a slight change in a word across languages within a subfamily) • For example: Italian, Spanish, and French are all members of the Romance language subfamily of the Indo-European language family Language Formation • William Jones and Jakob Grimm together proposed the existence of an ancestral IndoEuropean language called Proto-IndoEuropean • This discover would give us the hearth of ancient Latin, Greek and Sanskrit. • A Proto-Indo-European hearth would link modern languages from Scandinavia to North Africa and from North America through parts of Asia to Austrailia. Instructing the Vocabulary of Proto-IndoEuropean and Its Ancient Ancestor • Linguists use a technique called backward reconstruction to track sound shifts and hardening of consonants “backward” toward the original language. • Deducing a large part of the vocabulary of an extinct language, (language without native speakers) may be able to re-create the language that preceded it; this is called deep reconstruction. Reconstructing the Vocabulary of ProtoIndo-European and its Ancient Ancestor • Vladislav Illich-Svitych and Aharon Dolgopolsky, two Russian scholars, have had great impact on the deep reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European language. • They did this by using words they assumed to be the most stable and dependable parts of a language’s vocabulary and reconstructed an inventory of several hundred words. Reconstructing the Vocabulary of ProtoIndo-European and its Ancient Ancestor • The two Russian scholars established key characteristics not only of the Pronto-IndoEuropean language but of Nostratic language. • Nostratic is believed to be the ancestral language not only of Pronto-Indo-European, and thus the Indo-European language family as a whole, but also of the Kartvelian languages of the souther Caucasus region. Locating the Hearth of Proto-IndoEuropean • German linguist August Schleicher compared languages to the branches of a tree. • He suggested that new languages form through language divergence. • The process of language divergence has happened between Spanish and Portuguese and is now happening with Quebecois French. Locating the Hearth of Proto-IndoEuropean • When people with different languages have consistent spatial interaction, language convergence can take place, collapsing two languages into one. • Languages become extinct either when all descendants perish or when descendants choose to use another language, abandoning the language of their ancestors. Locating the Hearth of Proto-IndoEuropean • Linguists theorize that the hearth of the Proto-Indo-European language was somewhere in the vicinity of the Black Sea or east-central Europe. • Colin Renfrew, a British scholar, developed his own theory regarding the diffusion of Proto-Indo-European and agriculture. Locating the Hearth of Proto-IndoEuropean • The Renfrew hypothesis claims that from Anatolia (present day Turkey) diffused Europe’s Indo-European languages. • Others contrast Renfrew’s location of the hearth of Proto-Indo-European language and even the role of agriculture in its diffusion. • Stephen Oppenheimer used genetic evidence and argued that people came out of Central Africa, following now-flooded coastlines of East Africa, the southern Arabian Peninsula, and into India about 80,000 years ago. Oppenheimer’s Theory • Oppenheimer’s research supports theories by some linguists indicating that the hearth of the Proto-Indo-European language could lie in India. • He then claims that people from India migrated into Europe and Renfrew’s hearths less than 50,000 years ago. Tracing the Routes of Diffusion of Pronto-Indo-European • The study of the diffusion of Proto-IndoEuropean is typically on Europe for two reasons : one, it is clear the language diffused into Europe over time; and two, there is a significant body of historical research and archaeology focused on the early peopling of Europe • Presence of Europe’s oldest language (Celtic) in the far west supports the idea that the newer languages came from the east. Tracing the Routes of Diffusion of Pronto-Indo-European • One explanation is the conquest theory. • This theory states that early speakers of Proto-Indo-European spread from east to west on horseback, overpowering earlier inhabitants. • An alternative agricultural theory proposes that Proto-Indo-European diffused westward through Europe with the diffusion of agriculture. Tracing the Routes of Diffusion of Pronto-Indo-European • Some linguistic geographers continue to favor the dispersal hypothesis. • This holds that the Indo-European languages that arose from Proto-IndoEuropean were first carried eastward into Southwest Asia, next around the Caspian Sea and then across the Russian-Ukrainian plains and on into the Balkans. Tracing the Routes of Diffusion of Pronto-Indo-European • We still don’t know where the Proto-IndoEuropean language was born, or the location of its hearth. • Some scholars have even suggested that Nostratic is a direct successor of a protoworld language that goes back to the dawn of human history, but this notion is highly speculative. The Languages of Europe • The Indo-European language family is widely spread across the globe. • It dominates Europe, significant parts of Asia, North and South America, Australia, and portions of Southern Africa. • About half of the world’s people speak Indo-European languages. The Languages of Europe • French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, and Portuguese are examples of Romance languages. • Romance languages lie in the areas that were not subsequently overwhelmed. The Languages of Europe • English, German, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish are examples of Germanic languages. • Germanic languages reflect the expansion of peoples out of northern Europe to the west and south. • Some Germanic peoples spread into areas dominated by Rome. The Languages of Europe • Russian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, and Bulgarian are examples of Slavic languages. • Slavic tongues came to dominate much of eastern Europe over the succeeding centuries. The Languages of Europe • The French linguistic region extends into Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy, but in France, French coexists with Basque in the southwest, a variant of Dutch in the north, and a Celtic tongue in the northeast. • Celtic languages survive in the western region of France called Brittany, in the northern and western parts of Wales, in western Ireland, and in the Western Highlands and islands of Scotland. The Languages of Europe • Greek and Albanian are also IndoEuropean languages. • The Basque language, Euskera stands out in Europe. • One reason is it covers a very small land area and second, it is in no way related to any other language family in Europe. • The Basques have a strong identity tied to their language and independent history.