Indo-European - Roots of Europe

Indo-European languages
outside of Europe:
28 Oct. 2014
The Issues
When did the Indo-European (i.e. Indo-Anatolian)
continuum end?
Alternatively, when did Indo-European migrations begin?
Where was the (final) Indo-European homeland?
How early are Indo-European languages attested?
How likely is it that some migrations have gone undetected?
Can loanwords be used as evidence?
Does Mesopotamia offer a pertinent case study?
The Sumerian Question
What do we know, or can surmise, about the early linguistic
landscape of Mesopotamia?
From what period on are Sumerians present in Mesopotamia?
Are they the original inhabitants of Southern Mesopotamia?
Was the linguistic landscape of Mesopotamia in the 4th
millennium B.C. less complex than in later periods?
If the Sumerians were not the only or earliest population, what
other speech communities may have been present or have
preceded them?
Relevant Evidence
Names, especially place names
Lexical data
Elements in the writing system
References in written documents
The language of written documents
Place Names
Landsberger (1974 [1944]):
“None of the ancient cities had a Sumerian name”
Edzard (2003):
“It cannot be excluded that, within Mesopotamia proper,
Sumerian had neighbours who spoke a language – or
languages – […] which left their traces in Sumerian
proper names (gods, places) and vocabulary”
Michalowski (2005):
“One must admit, however, that most of the toponyms in
Southern Mesopotamia are neither Sumerian nor Semitic”
Lexical Data
Landsberger (1974 [1944]):
lists 30 alleged polysyllabic technical loans, including
one brewing term, from a suspected substrate
Salonen (1968):
assigns polysyllabic terms to loanword strata on basis
of meaning and ending
Civil (1996):
“practically all” brewing terms are “foreign”
Rubio (1999):
“all” brewing terms are “foreign”
Syllable Structure in Sumerian
Monosyllabic or polysyllabic?
Edzard (2003) and others have sharply criticized what he calls
the “monosyllabic myth”
Phonotactic structure of Sumerian (Whittaker 2005):
Category A: mono- and sesquisyllabic terms
Category B: polysyllabic
In the Ninmešara of Enheduanak (ca. 2285-2250 B.C.):
Category A: 810 words
Category B: 54 words (incl. names, loans)
Phonotactic Circularity
Rubio (1999):
claims Landsberger’s šidim ‘mason’ has a “well-attested
Sumerian pattern” but fails to note that silim ‘peace’
(from Akkadian) does, too
Edzard (2003) dismisses the “monosyllabic myth” but states:
“divine names such as Nanše or Ĝatumdu … may belong
to a substratum … because these names defy all efforts to
explain them by way of Sumerian etymology”, failing to
notice that it is their polysyllabic shape that disturbs him
Potential Loanwords in Sumerian
Polysyllabic, yet morphologically unsegmentable:
hanzalub ‘reed pulp’
Medial cluster:
uktin ‘appearance; facial features’
Disharmonic vowels (subject to vowel harmony):
tabira ‘joiner; artisan’ > tibira
Multiple variants:
lu-um-gi ~ lu-un-ga ~ ni-in-gi-in ‘brewer’
uk-ra ~ u2-še-ra ‘reed bundle’
Elements in the Writing System
Early signs with phonetic values lacking motivation in Sumerian
Sign order not consistent with Sumerian word order
Early sign compounds or groups unexplainable within Sumerian
Lack of correspondence between sign usage in proto-cuneiform
and historical Sumerian documents
Where the Debate Stands
Englund (2007: 5-6):
“The discussion about the ‘Sumerian Question’ continues,
at least in my mind, and has taken a rough edge of late,
the more so with publication of contributions to a Leiden
Rencontre that, particularly with contributions by Rubio
and Wilcke, added wild speculation to the fairly stale list
of ‘proofs’ that Sumerian phoneticisms were a clear element
in Late Uruk documents.”
Dass nicht sein kann,
was nicht sein darf
Rubio (1999) mocked:
“Indo-European before the Indo-Europeans”
Melchert (n.d., “The Position of Anatolian,” 1st draft):
“Suffice it to say that I find most of the claimed instances
of lexical borrowing [in Gamkrelidze and Ivanov 1995]
wholly unconvincing, […]. There is even less merit to the
claims of Whittaker (1998 and elsewhere) of an IndoEuropean “substrate” [sic] in Sumerian. For a detailed
refutation of his proposal see Rubio 2005.”
Cf. Melchert (1998) on an unrelated matter:
“I would like to see a genuine debate on this issue, not a
summary dismissal based on … prejudice”
Euphratic and the Euphrateans
Scenario 1a: A pre-Sumerian language and population
(present by the mid-4th millennium B.C. at the latest,
and a Sumerian-period substrate or superstrate)
Scenario 1b: Or a Sumerian-period superstrate
from the beginning of Uruk IV (ca. 3400-3100 B.C.) onwards
Scenario 2: Involved in the so-called Uruk expansion
(ca. 3700-3200 B.C.) and thus responsible for early
Indo-European loanwords in Egyptian and Semitic
Scenario 3: Influenced or initiated the development of
proto-cuneiform (ca. 3400-2900 B.C.)
Is there any evidence for gender in Euphratic?
If so, was it an animate-inanimate opposition,
as in Anatolian?
Or was there a further differentiation of animate
into masculine and feminine?
Sumerian preserves a series of polysyllabic (mostly disyllabic)
terms ending in –ah
Terms in -ah
Almost all of these are nouns:
nerah ‘snake; Nerah (god); Nerah (city)’
But there is also an adjective:
dara4(h) ‘dark-coloured, dark red’
(cf. Old Sumerian derih in sign name derihum at Ebla)
Thus, concord indicating the presence of (feminine) gender
Case Marking
Nominative (-s, -os):
semed ‘(value of sign ONE)’ < *sem-s ‘one’
lugud ‘pus (written BLOOD+WHITE)’ < *louk-ó-s ‘bright’
lugud2 ‘miscarriage’ < *lógh-o-s ‘childbirth’
lugud4 ‘place to put things’ < *lógh-o-s ‘storage place’
Accusative (-i-m, -o-m, -eh2-m):
gilim2 ‘rat (Old Sum., Ebla); mongoose’ < *glh1-i-m ‘rodent’
aktum ‘garment’ < *h2nt-ko-m ‘garment, cloak’
anzam ‘large drinking vessel’ < *h2ens-eh2-m ‘strap handle’
Vocative (-e):
lu-bi/be2 ‘o dear, o darling’ < *léubh-e ‘o dear, o darling’
Case Marking
Locative (-su):
apsu ‘subterranean waters (used in divine epithets such as
‘child of the waters’; ‘king of the waters’)’
< *h2ep-su ‘in the waters’ (cf. Vedic divine epithets ‘child in
the waters’; ‘king in the waters’)
Instrumental (-bhi):
-BI ‘(Old Sum. scribal convention for -da with instrumental/
comitative plural)’ < *-bhi ‘(instr. pl.)’
EYE(der.) (IGIgunû)
sig7 ‘(phonetic value)’ < *sekw- ‘follow’ (cf. Germ. see)
agar4/ugur2/ukur5 ‘(phonetic values)’ < *h3okw- ‘eye’
imma3 ‘physiognomy, (facial) features’ < *h2im- ‘copy’
(cf. Hittite himma- ‘imitation, substitute, replica’ < *h2im-no-?;
Lat. imāgō ‘image’)
uktin ‘appearance, facial features’ < *h3kw-ti-m (acc.) ‘appearance;
expression; sight’
ulutim2/ulutin2 ‘appearance, form, facial features’ < *wl-ti-m (acc.)
‘appearance, facial features’
(cf. ulutim/ulutin ‘written notice, notice of intentions’
< *wlh1-ti-m (acc.) ‘wishes’)
umbin ‘nail, claw’ < *h3ngwh- ‘nail, claw’
umbin ‘(container for animal fat)’ < *h3ngw-en- ‘fat, salve’
umbin ‘wheel’ < *h3nbh-en- ‘navel’
šed6 ‘shit’ < *skeid- ‘shit (vb.)’
šurum ‘dung, droppings’ < *skor-(o-m) ‘shit, dung’