Central Asia — Ethno-Linguistic
CKM 2018-19 / Aziz Yardımlı


Central Asia — Indo-European, Indo-Iranian

Tarihöncesi başlıca birincil yazılı kaynakların yokluğu ile tanımlanır ve ikincil yazılı kaynakların sık sık önemli ölçüde güvenilmez göndermeleri ve arkeolojik ve genetik bulgular bu dönemin anlaşılmasının başlıca araçlarıdır. Gelişmiş tarihsel dillerden yapılan çıkarsamalar üzerine dayanan tarihöncesi dilsel kurgular kaçınılmaz olarak bütünüyle hipotetiktir. Amaç tarihöncesi kültürlerin süreçleri üzerine içgörü kazanmaktır.
  • Dil kurguları (ya da linguistik hipotezler) yalnızca ‘ses’ benzerlikleri temeline dayanır.
  • Hiç biri dilin kavramsal yapısını ve dilin ussal türeyişini dikkate almaz. Bu durumda modeller bir kanıt değeri taşımayan dışsal andırımlar üzerine kurulur.
  • Proto-Indo-European kültürler kurgusunun kaynağı Proto-Indo-European (PIE) dil kurgusudur.
  • PIE arkeolojik ve arkeogenetik kanıtlar da arayan dilbilimsel bir kurgudur (linguistik bir rekonstruksiyon).
  • Hipotetik doğum yeri Neolitik Pontik-Kaspian steptir (Ukrayna ve Rusya).
  • Zamanda 4’üncü, 5’inci binyıllara doğru geriler.
  • PIE kültür ve dillerinin 2’inci bin yıl boyunca Anadolu, Ege, Kuzey Avrupa, Orta Asya ve Güney Sibirya’ya yayıldıkları varsayılır.
  • Kurgan hipotezi PIE hipotezinin yer ve zaman koşulunu doyurur.
  • Anadolu hipotezi PIE için tarım ile bağıntılı almaşık bir türeyiş modeli sunar.
  • Homo sapiens Avrupa’ya yaklaşık 40.000 yıl kadar önce ulaştı.

📹 Proto Indo-Europeans — Linguistics, Migrations, Yamnaya Culture, Horse Domestication, 4000-5000 BCE / Dr. Harl (VİDEO)

Proto Indo-Europeans — Linguistics, Migrations, Yamnaya Culture, Horse Domestication, 4000-5000 BCE / Dr. Harl (LINK)

An excellent lecture by Dr. Harl about the proto Indo-European steppe nomads.


📹 The Sound of the Proto Common Anatolian Language (A Short Story) (VİDEO)

The Sound of the Proto Common Anatolian Language (A Short Story) (LINK)

The Schleicher's Fable.

Might not be accurate since it's a reconstructed language.


📹 The Sound of the Proto Indo-European Language (The King & the God) (VİDEO)

The Sound of the Proto Indo-European Language (The King & the God) (LINK)

Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the linguistic reconstruction of the hypothetical common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, the most widely spoken language family in the world.

Far more work has gone into reconstructing PIE than any other proto-language, and it is by far the best understood of all proto-languages of its age. The vast majority of linguistic work during the 19th century was devoted to the reconstruction of PIE or its daughter proto-languages (such as Proto-Germanic), and most of the modern techniques of linguistic reconstruction such as the comparative method were developed as a result. These methods supply all current knowledge concerning PIE since there is no written record of the language.

PIE is estimated to have been spoken as a single language from 4500 BCE to 2500 BCE during the Neolithic Age, though estimates vary by more than a thousand years. According to the prevailing Kurgan hypothesis, the original homeland of the Proto-Indo-Europeans may have been in the Pontic-Caspian steppe of Eastern Europe. The linguistic reconstruction of PIE has also provided insight into the culture and religion of its speakers.



📹 Schleicher's fable in North-West Indo-European (VİDEO)

Schleicher’s fable in North-West Indo-European (LINK)

Schleicher's fable recited in North-West Indo-European or Old European, with English subtitles.

ACADEMIA PRISCA https://academiaprisca.org/
North-West Indo-European https://oldeuropean.org/
Indo-European demic diffusion https://indo-european.info/


Proto-Indo-European homeland

Proto-Indo-European homeland (W)

The Proto-Indo-European homeland according to the steppe hypothesis (dark green) and the present-day distribution of Indo-European languages in Eurasia (light green).

The Proto-Indo-European homeland (or Indo-European homeland) was the prehistoric urheimat of the Indo-European languages — the region where their reconstructed common ancestor, the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE), was originally spoken. From this region, its speakers migrated east and west, and went on to form the proto-communities of the different branches of the language family.

The most widely accepted proposal to identify the Proto-Indo-European homeland is the steppe hypothesis, which puts the PIE homeland in the Pontic-Caspian steppe around 4000 BC. A minority support the Anatolian hypothesis, which puts it in Anatolia around 8000 BC. A notable, though unlikely, third possibility is the Armenian hypothesis which situates the homeland south of the Caucasus. Several other explanations have been proposed, including the Neolithic creolisation hypothesis, Paleolithic Continuity Theory, and Indigenous Aryans or "Out of India" theory. These are not widely accepted, or are considered to be fringe theories.

The search for the homeland of the Indo-Europeans began in the late 18th century with the discovery of the Indo-European language family. The methods used to establish the homeland have been drawn from the disciplines of historical linguistics, archaeology, physical anthropology and, more recently, human population genetics.



Indo-European branches map

Indo-European branches map (W)

A map showing the approximate present-day distribution of the Indo-European branches within their homelands of Europe and Asia. The following legend is given in the chronological order of the earliest surviving written attestations of each branch:

Italic (includes Romance)
Non-Indo-European languages

Dotted/striped areas indicate where
multilingualism is common (more visible upon full enlargement of the map).


🗺️ Approximate locations of Indo-European languages in contemporary Eurasia (BRITANNICA)

Approximate locations of Indo-European languages in contemporary Eurasia (B)



🗺️ Indo-European migrations.gif

Indo-European migrations.gif (W) (W)

Animated map of Indo-European migrations. Sources:
* J.P. Mallory (1999) "In Search of the Indo-Europeans"
* D. Anthony (2007) "The Horse, The Wheel and Language"
* Allentoft et al. (2015) "Population genomics of bronze Age Eurasia", Nature, 11 june 2015, vol. 522
* Haak et al. (2015) "Massive migration from the steppe was a source for Indo-European languages in Europe", Nature, 522: 207–211

The animated map gives an overall impression; in the details, many things are not exactly right. The first migration into the Danube Valley, for example, did not proceed from the Yamna culture, which started almost a millennium later. But altogether, the idea is to give an general impression of the migrations. I hope a team of professionals (Reich, Anthony, have you got some students available?) will pick up the idea of using a GIF to communicate an overview of the IE-migrations, and create a really good GIF of it.


🗺️ Eurasian steppe belt

Eurasian steppe belt (W)



📹 The Spread of the Indo-Europeans (VİDEO)

The Spread of the Indo-Europeans (LINK)



📹 How Indo-European Languages Evolved? (VİDEO)

How Indo-European Languages Evolved? (LINK)

The origin of Indo-European languages has long been a topic of debate among scholars and scientists. In 2012, a team of evolutionary biologists at the University of Auckland led by Dr. Quentin Atkinson released a study that found all modern IE languages could be traced back to a single root: Anatolian — the language of Anatolia, now modern-day Turkey.


📹 A Turkish origin for Indo-European languages (VİDEO)

A Turkish origin for Indo-European languages (LINK)


There are two competing hypotheses for the origin of the Indo-European language family. The conventional view places the homeland in the Pontic steppes about 6000 years ago. An alternative hypothesis claims that the languages spread from Anatolia with the expansion of farming 8000 to 9500 years ago. We used Bayesian phylogeographic approaches, together with basic vocabulary data from 103 ancient and contemporary Indo-European languages, to explicitly model the expansion of the family and test these hypotheses. We found decisive support for an Anatolian origin over a steppe origin. Both the inferred timing and root location of the Indo-European language trees fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8000 to 9500 years ago. These results highlight the critical role that phylogeographic inference can play in resolving debates about human prehistory.


Kurgan hypothesis

Kurgan hypothesis (W)

The Kurgan hypothesis (also known as the Kurgan theory or Kurgan model) or steppe theory is the most widely accepted proposal to identify the Proto-Indo-European homeland from which the Indo-European languages spread out throughout Europe, Eurasia and parts of Asia. It postulates that the people of a Kurgan culture in the Pontic steppe north of the Black Sea were the most likely speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). The term is derived from the Russian kurgan (курга́н), meaning tumulus or burial mound.

Map of Indo-European migrations from c. 4000 to 1000 BC according to the Kurgan model. The magenta area corresponds to the assumed urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog culture). The red area corresponds to the area that may have been settled by Indo-European-speaking peoples up to c. 2500 BC, and the orange area by 1000 BC.

Scheme of Indo-European migrations from c. 4000 to 1000 BCE according to the Kurgan hypothesis

The assumed Urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog culture) and the subsequent Yamnaya culture.
Area possibly settled up to c. 2500 BCE.
Area settled up to 1000 BCE.

The Kurgan hypothesis was first formulated in the 1950s by Marija Gimbutas, who used the term to group various cultures, including the Yamnaya, or Pit Grave, culture and its predecessors. David Anthony instead uses the core Yamnaya culture and its relationship with other cultures as a point of reference.

Marija Gimbutas defined the Kurgan culture as composed of four successive periods, with the earliest (Kurgan I) including the Samara and Seroglazovo cultures of the DnieperVolga region in the Copper Age (early 4th millennium BC). The people of these cultures were nomadic pastoralists, who, according to the model, by the early 3rd millennium BC had expanded throughout the Pontic–Caspian steppe and into Eastern Europe.

Three genetic studies in 2015 gave partial support to Gimbutas's Kurgan theory regarding the Indo-European Urheimat. According to those studies, haplogroups R1b and R1a, now the most common in Europe (R1a is also common in South Asia) would have expanded from the Russian and Ukrainian steppes, along with the Indo-European languages; they also detected an autosomal component present in modern Europeans which was not present in Neolithic Europeans, which would have been introduced with paternal lineages R1b and R1a, as well as Indo-European languages.

Kurgan culture

Cultural horizon

Gimbutas defined and introduced the term "Kurgan culture" in 1956 with the intention of introducing a "broader term" that would combine Sredny Stog II, Pit Grave, and Corded ware horizons (spanning the 4th to 3rd millennia in much of Eastern and Northern Europe). The model of a "Kurgan culture" brings together the various cultures of the Copper Age to Early Bronze Age (5th to 3rd millennia BC) Pontic–Caspian steppe to justify their identification as a single archaeological culture or cultural horizon, based on similarities among them. The eponymous construction of kurgans (mound graves) is only one among several factors. As always in the grouping of archaeological cultures, the dividing line between one culture and the next cannot be drawn with hard precision and will be open to debate.

Overview of the Kurgan hypothesis

Cultures that Gimbutas considered as part of the "Kurgan culture":


Stages of culture and expansion

Gimbutas's original suggestion identifies four successive stages of the Kurgan culture:


In other publications she proposes three successive "waves" of expansion:

  • Wave 1, predating Kurgan I, expansion from the lower Volga to the Dnieper, leading to coexistence of Kurgan I and the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture. Repercussions of the migrations extend as far as the Balkans and along the Danube to the Vinča culture in Serbia and Lengyel culture in Hungary.
  • Wave 2, mid 4th millennium BC, originating in the Maykop culture and resulting in advances of "kurganized" hybrid cultures into northern Europe around 3000 BC (Globular Amphora culture, Baden culture, and ultimately Corded Ware culture). According to Gimbutas this corresponds to the first intrusion of Indo-European languages into western and northern Europe.
  • Wave 3, 3000–2800 BC, expansion of the Pit Grave culture beyond the steppes, with the appearance of the characteristic pit graves as far as the areas of modern Romania, Bulgaria, eastern Hungary and Georgia, coincident with the end of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture and Trialeti culture in Georgia (c. 2750 BC).


Anatolian hypothesis

Anatolian hypothesis (W)

The Anatolian hypothesis, also known as the Anatolian theory or the sedentary farmer theory, first developed by British archaeologist Colin Renfrew in 1987, proposes that the dispersal of Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in Neolithic Anatolia. It is the main competitor to the Kurgan hypothesis, or steppe theory, the more favoured view academically.

When it was first proposed in 1956, in The Prehistory of Eastern Europe, Part 1, Marija Gimbutas's contribution to the search for Indo-European origins was an interdisciplinary synthesis of archaeology and linguistics. The Kurgan model of Indo-European origins identifies the Pontic-Caspian steppe as the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) urheimat, and a variety of late PIE dialects are assumed to have been spoken across the region. According to this model, the Kurgan culture gradually expanded until it encompassed the entire Pontic-Caspian steppe, Kurgan IV being identified with the Yamnaya culture of around 3000 BC.

The mobility of the Kurgan culture facilitated its expansion over the entire region, and is attributed to the domestication of the horse and later the use of early chariots. The first strong archaeological evidence for the domestication of the horse comes from the Sredny Stog culture north of the Azov Sea in Ukraine, and would correspond to an early PIE or pre-PIE nucleus of the 5th millennium BC. Subsequent expansion beyond the steppes led to hybrid, or in Gimbutas's terms "kurganized" cultures, such as the Globular Amphora culture to the west. From these kurganized cultures came the immigration of Proto-Greeks to the Balkans and the nomadic Indo-Iranian cultures to the east around 2500 BC.


  • 4500–4000: Early PIE. Sredny Stog, Dnieper–Donets and Samara cultures, domestication of the horse (Wave 1).
  • 4000–3500: The Pit Grave culture (a.k.a. Yamnaya culture), the prototypical kurgan builders, emerges in the steppe, and the Maykop culture in the northern Caucasus. Indo-Hittite models postulate the separation of Proto-Anatolian before this time.
  • 3500–3000: Middle PIE. The Pit Grave culture is at its peak, representing the classical reconstructed Proto-Indo-European society with stone idols, predominantly practicing animal husbandry in permanent settlements protected by hillforts, subsisting on agriculture, and fishing along rivers. Contact of the Pit Grave culture with late Neolithic Europe cultures results in the "kurganized" Globular Amphora and Baden cultures (Wave 2). The Maykop culture shows the earliest evidence of the beginning Bronze Age, and Bronze weapons and artifacts are introduced to Pit Grave territory. Probable early Satemization.
  • 3000–2500: Late PIE. The Pit Grave culture extends over the entire Pontic steppe (Wave 3). The Corded Ware culture extends from the Rhine to the Volga, corresponding to the latest phase of Indo-European unity, the vast "kurganized" area disintegrating into various independent languages and cultures, still in loose contact enabling the spread of technology and early loans between the groups, except for the Anatolian and Tocharian branches, which are already isolated from these processes. The centum–satem break is probably complete, but the phonetic trends of Satemization remain active.

Alignment with Anatolian hypothesis (2000s)

Alberto Piazza and Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza have tried in the 2000s to align the Anatolian hypothesis with the Steppe theory. According to Alberto Piazza, writing in 2000, " [i]t is clear that, genetically speaking, peoples of the Kurgan steppe descended at least in part from people of the Middle Eastern Neolithic who immigrated there from Turkey.” According to Piazza and Cavalli-Sforza (2006), the Yamna-culture may have been derived from Middle Eastern Neolithic farmers who migrated to the Pontic steppe and developed pastoral nomadism. Wells agrees with Cavalli-Sforza that there is "some genetic evidence for migration from the Middle East." Nevertheless, the Anatolian hypothesis is controversial.

Anthony’s revised steppe theory (2007)

David Anthony's The Horse, the Wheel and Language describes his "revised steppe theory". David Anthony considers the term “Kurgan culture” so lacking in precision as to be useless, instead using the core Yamnaya culture and its relationship with other cultures as a point of reference. He points out that

The Kurgan culture was so broadly defined that almost any culture with burial mounds, or even (like the Baden culture) without them could be included.

He does not include the Maykop culture among those that he considers to be IE-speaking, presuming instead that they spoke a Caucasian language.



Paleolithic Continuity Theory

Paleolithic Continuity Theory (W)

The Paleolithic Continuity Theory (or PCT; Italian: La teoria della continuità), since 2010 relabelled as a "paradigm", as in Paleolithic Continuity Paradigm or PCP), is a hypothesis suggesting that the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) can be traced back to the Upper Paleolithic, several millennia earlier than the Chalcolithic or at the most Neolithic estimates in other scenarios of Proto-Indo-European origins.

As advanced by Mario Alinei in his Origini delle Lingue d’Europa (Origins of the Languages of Europe), published in two volumes in 1996 and 2000, the PCT posits that the advent of Indo-European languages should be linked to the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe, at around 40,000 years ago. Employing "lexical periodisation", Alinei arrives at a timeline deeper than even that of Colin Renfrew's Anatolian hypothesis, previously the mainstream linguistic theory proposing the earliest origin for Indo-European.

Since 2004, an informal workgroup of scholars who support the Paleolithic Continuity Theory has been held online. Members of the group (referred to as "Scientific Committee" in the website) include linguists Xaverio Ballester (University of Valencia) and Francesco Benozzo (University of Bologna), prehistorian Marcel Otte (Université de Liège) and anthropologist Henry Harpending (University of Utah).

The Paleolithic Continuity Theory is distinctly a minority view as it enjoys very little academic support, serious discussion being limited to a small circle of scholars. It is not listed by Mallory among the proposals for the origins of the Indo-European languages that are widely discussed and considered credible within academia.


The framework of PCT is laid out by Alinei in four main assumptions:

  1. Continuity is the basic pattern of European prehistory and the basic working hypothesis on the origins of IE languages.
  2. Stability and antiquity are general features of languages.
  3. The lexicon of natural languages, due to its antiquity, may be "periodized" along the entire course of human evolution.
  4. Archaeological frontiers coincide with linguistic frontiers.

The continuity theory draws on a Continuity Model (CM), positing the presence of IE and non-IE peoples and languages in Europe from Paleolithic times and allowing for minor invasions and infiltrations of local scope, mainly during the last three millennia.

Arguing that continuity is "the archeologist's easiest pursuit," Alinei deems this "the easiest working hypothesis," putting the burden of proof on competing hypotheses as long as none provide irrefutable counter-evidence. Alinei also claims linguistic coherence, rigor and productivity in the pursuit of this approach.




Proto-Indo-Europeans (W)

The Proto-Indo-Europeans were the prehistoric people of Eurasia who spoke Proto-Indo-European (PIE), the ancestor of the Indo-European languages according to linguistic reconstruction.

IE Expansion.
Scheme of Indo-European migrations from ca. 4000 to 1000 BC according to the Kurgan hypothesis. The magenta area corresponds to the assumed Urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog culture). The red area corresponds to the area which may have been settled by Indo-European-speaking peoples up to ca. 2500 BC; the orange area to 1000 BC.

Knowledge of them comes chiefly from that reconstruction, along with material evidence from archaeology and archaeogenetics. The Proto-Indo-Europeans likely lived during the late Neolithic, or roughly the 4th millennium BC. Mainstream scholarship places them in the Pontic-Caspian steppe zone in Eastern Europe (present day Ukraine and Russia). Some archaeologists would extend the time depth of PIE to the middle Neolithic (5500 to 4500 BC) or even the early Neolithic (7500 to 5500 BC), and suggest alternative location hypotheses.

By the early second millennium BC, offshoots of the Proto-Indo-Europeans had reached far and wide across Eurasia, including Anatolia (Hittites), the Aegean (the ancestors of Mycenaean Greece), the north of Europe (Corded Ware culture), the edges of Central Asia (Yamnaya culture), and southern Siberia (Afanasievo culture).



Proto-Indo-European language

Proto-Indo-European language (W)

Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the linguistic reconstruction of the common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, the most widely spoken language family in the world.

Far more work has gone into reconstructing PIE than any other proto-language, and it is by far the best understood of all proto-languages of its age. The vast majority of linguistic work during the 19th century was devoted to the reconstruction of PIE or its daughter proto-languages (such as Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-Iranian), and most of the modern techniques of linguistic reconstruction (such as the comparative method) were developed as a result. These methods supply all current knowledge concerning PIE since there is no written record of the language.

PIE is estimated to have been spoken as a single language from 4500 BC to 2500 BC during the Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age, though estimates vary by more than a thousand years. According to the prevailing Kurgan hypothesis, the original homeland of the Proto-Indo-Europeans may have been in the Pontic–Caspian steppe of Eastern Europe. The linguistic reconstruction of PIE has also provided insight into the culture and religion of its speakers.

As Proto-Indo-Europeans became isolated from each other through the Indo-European migrations, the Proto-Indo-European language became spoken by the various groups in regional dialects which then underwent the Indo-European sound laws divergence, and along with shifts in morphology, these dialects slowly but eventually transformed into the known ancient Indo-European languages. From there, further linguistic divergence led to the evolution of their current descendants, the modern Indo-European languages. Today, the descendant languages, or daughter languages, of PIE with the most native speakers are Spanish, English, Portuguese, Hindustani (Hindi and Urdu), Bengali, Russian, Punjabi, German, Persian, French, Italian and Marathi. Hundreds of other living descendants of PIE range from languages as diverse as Albanian (gjuha shqipe), Kurdish (کوردی‎), Nepali (खस भाषा), Tsakonian (τσακώνικα), Ukrainian (українська мова), and Welsh (Cymraeg).

PIE had an elaborate system of morphology that included inflectional suffixes (analogous to English life, lives, life's, lives'‍) as well as ablaut (vowel alterations, for example, as preserved in English sing, sang, sung) and accent. PIE nominals and pronouns had a complex system of declension, and verbs similarly had a complex system of conjugation. The PIE phonology, particles, numerals, and copula are also well-reconstructed.

An asterisk is used to mark reconstructed words, such as *wódr̥ 'water', *ḱwṓ 'dog' (English hound), or *tréyes 'three (masculine)'.

Development of the hypothesis


No direct evidence of PIE remains – scholars have reconstructed PIE from its present-day descendants using the comparative method.

The comparative method follows the Neogrammarian rule: the Indo-European sound laws apply without exception. The method compares languages and uses the sound laws to find a common ancestor. For example, compare the pairs of words in Italian and English: piede and foot, padre and father, pesce and fish. Since there is a consistent correspondence of the initial consonants that emerges far too frequently to be coincidental, one can assume that these languages stem from a common parent-language.

Many consider William Jones, an Anglo-Welsh philologist and puisne judge in Bengal, to have begun Indo-European studies in 1786, when he postulated the common ancestry of Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek. However, he was not the first to make this observation. In the 1500s, European visitors to the Indian subcontinent became aware of similarities between Indo-Iranian languages and European languages, and as early as 1653 Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn had published a proposal for a proto-language ("Scythian") for the following language families: Germanic, Romance, Greek, Baltic, Slavic, Celtic, and Iranian. In a memoir sent to the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in 1767 Gaston-Laurent Coeurdoux, a French Jesuit who spent all his life in India, had specifically demonstrated the analogy between Sanskrit and European languages. In some ways, Jones' work was less accurate than his predecessors', as he erroneously included Egyptian, Japanese and Chinese in the Indo-European languages, while omitting Hindi.

In 1818 Rasmus Christian Rask elaborated the set of correspondences to include other Indo-European languages, such as Sanskrit and Greek, and the full range of consonants involved. In 1816 Franz Bopp published On the System of Conjugation in Sanskrit in which he investigated a common origin of Sanskrit, Persian, Greek, Latin, and German. In 1833 he began publishing the Comparative Grammar of Sanskrit, Zend, Greek, Latin, Lithuanian, Old Slavic, Gothic, and German.

In 1822 Jacob Grimm formulated what became known as Grimm's law as a general rule in his Deutsche Grammatik. Grimm showed correlations between the Germanic and other Indo-European languages and demonstrated that sound change systematically transforms all words of a language. From the 1870s the Neogrammarians proposed that sound laws have no exceptions, as shown in Verner's law, published in 1876, which resolved apparent exceptions to Grimm's law by exploring the role that accent (stress) had played in language change.

August Schleicher's A Compendium of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-European, Sanskrit, Greek and Latin Languages (1874-77) represented an early attempt to reconstruct the proto-Indo-European language.

By the early 1900s Indo-Europeanists had developed well-defined descriptions of PIE which scholars still accept today. Later, the discovery of the Anatolian and Tocharian languages added to the corpus of descendant languages. A new principle won wide acceptance in the laryngeal theory, which explained irregularities in the linguistic reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European phonology as the effects of hypothetical sounds which had disappeared from all documented languages, but which were later observed in excavated cuneiform tablets in Anatolian.

Julius Pokorny's Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch ("Indo-European Etymological Dictionary", 1959) gave a detailed, though conservative, overview of the lexical knowledge then accumulated. Kuryłowicz's 1956 Apophonie gave a better understanding of Indo-European ablaut. From the 1960s, knowledge of Anatolian became robust enough to establish its relationship to PIE.


Table 1: Widely shared Indo-European Terms (Britannica)

Table 1: Widely shared Indo-European Terms (B)

Table 1 gives examples of typical vocabulary items widely shared within the Indo-European family that have been decisive in establishing the family. A blank indicates that the language in question does not use the item in accordance with the given meaning or that its word for that meaning is unknown.


Table 2: Examples of noun and verb inflection (Britannica)

Table 2: Examples of Indo-European noun and verb inflection (B)

Table 2 by samples of noun declension and verb inflection in some of the more archaic languages that have retained the inflectional endings of Indo-European in relatively unchanged form. Note that Old Lithuanian -į and -ų were nasalized vowels, representing a continuation from the earlier forms *-in and *-un. (The asterisk marks a form that is not actually found in any document or living dialect but is reconstructed as having once existed in the prehistory of the language.)



Indo-European languages (Britannica)

Indo-European languages (B)

Indo-European languages, family of languages spoken in most of Europe and areas of European settlement and in much of Southwest and South Asia. The term Indo-Hittite is used by scholars who believe that Hittite and the other Anatolian languages are not just one branch of Indo-European but rather a branch coordinate with all the rest put together; thus, Indo-Hittite has been used for a family consisting of Indo-European proper plus Anatolian. As long as this view is neither definitively proved nor disproved, it is convenient to keep the traditional use of the term Indo-European.

Languages of the family

The well-attested languages of the Indo-European family fall fairly neatly into the 10 main branches listed below; these are arranged according to the age of their oldest sizable texts.


Now extinct, Anatolian languages were spoken during the 1st and 2nd millennia BCE in what is presently Asian Turkey and northern Syria. By far the best-known Anatolian language is Hittite, the official language of the Hittite empire, which flourished in the 2nd millennium. Very few Hittite texts were known before 1906, and their interpretation as Indo-European was not generally accepted until after 1915; the integration of Hittite data into Indo-European comparative grammar was, therefore, one of the principal developments of Indo-European studies in the 20th century. The oldest Hittite texts date from the 17th century BCE, the latest from approximately 1200 BCE.


Indo-Iranian comprises two main subbranches, Indo-Aryan (Indic) and Iranian. Indo-Aryan languages have been spoken in what is now northern and central India and Pakistan since before 1000 BCE. Aside from a very poorly known dialect spoken in or near northern Iraq during the 2nd millennium BCE, the oldest record of an Indo-Aryan language is the Vedic Sanskrit of the Rigveda, the oldest of the sacred scriptures of India, dating roughly from 1000 BCE. Examples of modern Indo-Aryan languages are Hindi, Bengali, Sinhalese (spoken in Sri Lanka), and the many dialects of Romany, the language of the Roma.

Iranian languages were spoken in the 1st millennium BCE in present-day Iran and Afghanistan and also in the steppes to the north, from modern Hungary to East (Chinese) Turkistan (now Xinjiang). The only well-known ancient varieties of Iranian languages are Avestan, the sacred language of the Zoroastrians (Parsis), and Old Persian, the official language of Darius I (ruled 522-486 BCE) and Xerxes I (486-465 BCE) and their successors. Among the modern Iranian languages are Persian (Fārsī), Pashto (Afghan), Kurdish, and Ossetic.


Greek, despite its numerous dialects, has been a single language throughout its history. It has been spoken in Greece since at least 1600 BCE and, in all probability, since the end of the 3rd millennium BCE. The earliest texts are the Linear B tablets, some of which may date from as far back as 1400 BCE (the date is disputed) and some of which certainly date to 1200 BCE. This material, very sparse and difficult to interpret, was not identified as Greek until 1952. The Homeric epics—the Iliad and the Odyssey, probably dating from the 8th century BCE—are the oldest texts of any bulk.


The principal language of the Italic group is Latin, originally the speech of the city of Rome and the ancestor of the modern Romance languages: Italian, Romanian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and so on. The earliest Latin inscriptions apparently date from the 6th century BCE, with literature beginning in the 3rd century. Scholars are not in agreement as to how many other ancient languages of Italy and Sicily belong in the same branch as Latin.


In the middle of the 1st millennium BCE, Germanic tribes lived in southern Scandinavia and northern Germany. Their expansions and migrations from the 2nd century BCE onward are largely recorded in history. The oldest Germanic language of which much is known is the Gothic of the 4th century CE. Other languages include English, German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic.


Armenian, like Greek, is a single language. Speakers of Armenian are recorded as being in what now constitutes eastern Turkey and Armenia as early as the 6th century BCE, but the oldest Armenian texts date from the 5th century ce.


The Tocharian languages, now extinct, were spoken in the Tarim Basin (in present-day northwestern China) during the 1st millennium CE. Two distinct languages are known, labeled A ( East Tocharian, or Turfanian) and B (West Tocharian, or Kuchean). One group of travel permits for caravans can be dated to the early 7th century, and it appears that other texts date from the same or from neighbouring centuries. These languages became known to scholars only in the first decade of the 20th century. They have been less important for Indo-European studies than Hittite has been, partly because their testimony about the Indo-European parent language is obscured by 2,000 more years of change and partly because Tocharian testimony fits fairly well with that of the previously known non-Anatolian languages.


Celtic languages were spoken in the last centuries before the Common Era (also called the Christian Era) over a wide area of Europe, from Spain and Britain to the Balkans, with one group (the Galatians) even in Asia Minor. Very little of the Celtic of that time and the ensuing centuries has survived, and this branch is known almost entirely from the Insular Celtic languages—Irish, Welsh, and others—spoken in and near the British Isles, as recorded from the 8th century CE onward.


The grouping of Baltic and Slavic into a single branch is somewhat controversial, but the exclusively shared features outweigh the divergences. At the beginning of the Common Era, Baltic and Slavic tribes occupied a large area of eastern Europe, east of the Germanic tribes and north of the Iranians, including much of present-day Poland and the states of Belarus, Ukraine, and westernmost Russia. The Slavic area was in all likelihood relatively small, perhaps centred in what is now southern Poland. But in the 5th century ce the Slavs began expanding in all directions. By the end of the 20th century Slavic languages were spoken throughout much of eastern Europe and northern Asia. The Baltic-speaking area, however, contracted, and by the end of the 20th century Baltic languages were confined to Lithuania and Latvia.

The earliest Slavic texts, written in a dialect called Old Church Slavonic, date from the 9th century ce, the oldest substantial material in Baltic dates to the end of the 14th century, and the oldest connected texts to the 16th century.


Albanian, the language of the present-day republic of Albania, is known from the 15th century ce. It presumably continues one of the very poorly attested ancient Indo-European languages of the Balkan Peninsula, but which one is not clear.

In addition to the principal branches just listed, there are several poorly documented extinct languages of which enough is known to be sure that they were Indo-European and that they did not belong in any of the groups enumerated above (e.g., Phrygian, Macedonian). Of a few, too little is known to be sure whether they were Indo-European or not.

Establishment of the family

Shared characteristics

The chief reason for grouping the Indo-European languages together is that they share a number of items of basic vocabulary, including grammatical affixes, whose shapes in the different languages can be related to one another by statable phonetic rules. Especially important are the shared patterns of alternation of sounds. Thus, the agreement of Sanskrit ás-ti, Latin es-t, and Gothic is-t, all meaning ‘is,’ is greatly strengthened by the identical reduction of the root to s- in the plural in all three languages: Sanskrit s-ánti, Latin s-unt, Gothic s-ind ‘they are.’ Agreements in pure structure, totally divorced from phonetic substance, are, at best, of dubious value in proving membership in the Indo-European family.

Sanskrit studies and their impact

The ancient Greeks and Romans readily perceived that their languages were related to each other, and, as other European languages became objects of scholarly attention in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, many of these were seen to be more similar to Latin and Greek than, for example, to Hebrew or Hungarian. But an accurate idea of the true bounds of the Indo-European family became possible only when, in the 16th century, Europeans began to learn Sanskrit. The massive similarities between Sanskrit and Latin and Greek were noted early, but the first person to make the correct inference and state it conspicuously was the British Orientalist and jurist Sir William Jones, who in 1786 said in his presidential address to the Bengal Asiatic Society that Sanskrit bore to both Greek and Latin

“a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs, and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists. There is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothick [i.e., Germanic] and the Celtick, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanscrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family ...”


Nineteenth-century linguists firmly established the connections that Jones had elucidated and broadened the family to include Slavic, Baltic, and other language groups. In 1816 Franz Bopp, the German philologist, presented his Über das Conjugationssystem der Sanskritsprache in Vergleichung mit jenem der griechischen, lateinischen, persischen und germanischen Sprache (“On the System of Conjugation in Sanskrit, in Comparison with Those of Greek, Latin, Persian, and Germanic”), in which the relation of these five languages was demonstrated on the basis of a detailed comparison of verb morphology (structure). Two years later there appeared the Undersøgelse om det gamle Nordiske eller Islandske Sprogs Oprindelse (Investigation of the Origin of the Old Norse or Icelandic Language), by the Danish philologist Rasmus Rask, completed in 1814. This work demonstrated methodically the relation of Germanic to Latin, Greek, Slavic, and Baltic. (Rask included Celtic a few years later.) In 1822 the second edition of the first volume of Jacob Grimm’s Deutsche Grammatik (“Germanic Grammar”) was published. In this grammar were discussed the peculiar Indo-European vowel alternations called Ablaut by Grimm (e.g., English sing, sang, sung; or Greek peíth-ō ‘I persuade,’ pé-poith-a ‘I am persuaded,’ é-pith-on ‘I persuaded’). In addition, Grimm tried to find the principle behind the correspondences of Germanic stop and spirant consonants (the first made with complete stoppage of the breath, and the second made with constriction of the breath but not complete stoppage) to the consonants of other Indo-European languages. The sound changes implied by these correspondences have become known as Grimm’s law. Examples of it include the stop consonant p in Latin pater corresponding to the spirant consonant f in father, and the correspondences between English and Greek t, d, and th discussed above.

Bopp demonstrated in 1839 that the Celtic languages were Indo-European, as had been asserted by Jones. In 1850 the German philologist August Schleicher did the same for Albanian, and in 1877 another German philologist, Heinrich Hübschmann, showed that Armenian was an independent branch of Indo-European, rather than a member of the Iranian subbranch. Since then the Indo-European family has been enlarged by the discovery of Tocharian languages and of Hittite and the other Anatolian languages and by the recognition, with the aid of Hittite, that Lycian, known and partly deciphered already in the 19th century, belongs to the Anatolian branch of Indo-European.

The Indo-European character of Tocharian was announced by the German scholars Emil Sieg and Wilhelm Siegling in 1908. The Norwegian Assyriologist Jørgen Alexander Knudtzon recognized Hittite as Indo-European on the basis of two letters found in Egypt (translated in Die zwei Arzawa-briefe [1902; “The Two Arzawa Letters”]), but his views were not generally accepted until 1915, when Bedřich Hrozný published the first report of his own decipherment of the much more copious material that had meanwhile been found in the ruins of the Hittite capital itself.

The first full comparative grammar of the major Indo-European languages was Bopp’s Vergleichende Grammatik des Sanskrit, Zend, Griechischen, Lateinischen, Litthauischen, Altslawischen, Gotischen und Deutschen (1833-52; “Comparative Grammar of Sanskrit, Zend, Greek, Latin, Lithuanian, Old Slavic, Gothic, and German”). But this and Schleicher’s shorter Compendium der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen (1861-62; “Compendium of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-European Languages”) were rendered obsolete by the major breakthrough of the 1870s, when scholars — prompted largely by the discoveries of a group of German scholars known as Neogrammarians — realized that sound correspondences are not merely rules of thumb that do not have to be strictly observed, but that apparent exceptions to sound laws can often be accounted for by stating them more accurately or by reconstructing additional different sounds in the parent language. The difference between Gothic d in fadar ‘father’ and þ in broþar ‘brother,’ for example, both corresponding to t in Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, proved to be correlated with the original position of the accent, a discovery known as Verner’s law (named for the Danish linguist Karl Verner). Thus, d appears when the preceding syllable was originally unaccented (fadar: Greek patér-, Sanskrit pitár-), and þ occurs when the preceding syllable was originally accented (broþar: Greek phrā́ter- ‘member of a clan,’ Sanskrit bhrā́tar-).

The knowledge and opinions that had accumulated by the end of the 19th century are largely incorporated in the German linguist Karl Brugmann’s Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen (2nd ed., 1897–1916; “Outline of Comparative Indo-European Grammar”), which remains the latest full-scale treatment of the family.



The parent language: Proto-Indo-European (Britannica)

The parent language: Proto-Indo-European (B)

By comparing the recorded Indo-European languages, especially the most ancient ones, much of the parent language from which they are descended can be reconstructed. This reconstructed parent language is sometimes called simply Indo-European, but in this article the term Proto-Indo-European is preferred.



Proto-Indo-European probably had 15 stop consonants. In the following grid these sounds are arranged according to the place in the mouth where the stoppage was made and the activity of the vocal cords during and immediately after the stoppage:

A labial sound is made with the lips, and a dental sound is made with the tip of the tongue against the back of the teeth. The palatal and velar sounds were probably made by contact between the back of the tongue and the soft palate—more toward the front of the mouth in the case of the palatals and more toward the back in the case of the velars (compare Arabic kalb ‘dog’ versus qalb ‘heart’). The labiovelar sounds were made by contact between the back of the tongue and the soft palate with concomitant rounding of the lips. Voiceless designates sounds made without vibration of the vocal cords; voiced sounds are pronounced with vibration of the vocal cords. The exact pronunciation of the voiced aspirates is somewhat uncertain; they were probably similar to the sounds transcribed bh, dh, and gh in Hindi.

Correspondences pointing to the voiced labial stop b are rare, leading some scholars to deny that b existed at all in the parent language. A minority view holds that the traditionally reconstructed voiced stops were actually glottalized sounds produced with accompanying closure of the vocal cords. The status of the velar stops k, g, and gh has likewise been questioned. The earlier view that Proto-Indo-European had a series of voiceless aspirated stops ph, th, ḱh, kh, and kwh has largely been abandoned. (Aspirated consonants are sounds accompanied by a puff of breath.) There was one sibilant consonant, s, with a voiced alternant, z, that occurred automatically next to voiced stops. The existence of a second apical spirant (that is, a spirant formed with the tip of the tongue), þ (with a presumed pronunciation like that of th in English thin), is extremely uncertain.

There is general agreement that Proto-Indo-European had one or more additional consonants, for which the label laryngeal is used. These consonants, however, have mostly disappeared or have become identical with other sounds in the recorded Indo-European languages, so that their former existence has had to be deduced mainly from their effects on neighbouring sounds. Hence, the laryngeal sounds were not suspected until 1878, and even then they were rejected by most scholars until after 1927, when the Polish linguist Jerzy Kuryłowicz showed that Hittite often has (perhaps a velar spirant like the ch in German ach) in places where a laryngeal had been posited on the evidence of the other Indo-European languages. There is still considerable disagreement about how many laryngeals there were, what they sounded like, what traces they left, and how best to symbolize them. Most scholars now believe there were three, which can be written H1, H2, and H3. Of these, H1 may have been h or a glottal stop; H2 was perhaps a pharyngeal spirant like Arabic in ḥams ‘five’; H3, whatever its other features, was probably voiced. The principal traces they left outside Anatolian are in the quality and length of neighbouring vowels, H2 changing a neighbouring e to a, and probably H3 changing it to o, while all laryngeals lengthened a preceding vowel in the same syllable. In Anatolian, H2 and H3 remained as , at least in some positions.

When laryngeals between consonants disappeared, a vowel sometimes remained, as in Greek stásis, Sanskrit sthitis, Old English stede ‘a standing (place)’ from Proto-Indo-European *stH2tis. Before the advent of the laryngeal theory, a separate Proto-Indo-European vowel ə (called schwa indogermanicum) was reconstructed to account for these correspondences.

Finally, there were the nasal sounds n and m, the liquids l and r, and the semivowels y and w. When y and w occurred between consonants, they were replaced by the vowels i and u. The nasals and liquids functioning as nuclei of syllables in this position (like the final sounds of English bottom, button, bottle, butter) are traditionally written m̥, n̥, l̥, r̥. Some scholars dispense with these diacritical marks and with the distinction between syllabic i and u and nonsyllabic y and w, but this obscures certain distinctions, such as that between -wn̥- in *ḱwn̥su ‘among dogs,’ Sanskrit śvasu, and -un- in *tund- ‘shove,’ Sanskrit tundate.


The vowel system of Proto-Indo-European consisted of the following sounds:

In forming front vowels, the highest point of the tongue is in the front of the mouth; for back vowels, that point is in the back. High vowels are those in which the tongue is highest—closest to the roof of the mouth. Mid vowels are made with the tongue between the extremes of high and low.

The four mid vowels participated in a pattern of alternation called ablaut. In the course of inflection and word formation, roots and suffixes could appear in the “e-grade” (also called “normal grade”; compare Latin ped-is ‘of a foot’ [genitive singular]), “o-grade” (e.g., Greek pód-es ‘feet’), “zero-grade” (e.g., Avestan fra-bd-a- ‘forefoot,’ with -bd- from *-pd-), “lengthened e-grade” (e.g., Latin pēs ‘foot’ [nominative singular] from *pēd-s), and/or “lengthened o-grade” (e.g., English foot, Old English fōt).

There is some evidence for a similar pattern of alternation involving a, ā, and zero. Most instances of apparent a and ā, however, arose by “coloration” of e under the influence of a preceding or following H2 (e.g., Greek ag- ‘lead’ comes from *H2eǵ-, stā- ‘stand’ comes from *stH2-). Some cases of o, ō, and ē are likewise of laryngeal origin (e.g., Greek op- ‘see’ comes from *H3ekw-, dō- ‘give’ comes from *deH3-, thē- ‘put’ comes from *dheH1-). Among the high vowels, i and u did not participate in ablaut alternations but rather functioned primarily as the syllabic realizations of the consonants y and w, as in *leykw- ‘leave,’ zero-grade *likw-, parallel to *derḱ- ‘see,’ zero-grade *dr̥ḱ-. Long ī and ū in the recorded languages derive in large part from sequences of i or u plus laryngeal, as in Latin vīvus ‘alive’ from *gwiH3wós.

The accent just before the breakup of the parent language was apparently mainly one of pitch rather than stress. Each full word had one accented syllable, presumably pronounced on a higher pitch than the others.

Morphology and syntax

Verbal inflection

The Proto-Indo-European verb had three aspects: imperfective, perfective, and stative. Aspect refers to the nature of an action as described by the speaker—e.g., an event occurring once, an event recurring repeatedly, a continuing process, or a state. The difference between English simple and “progressive” verb forms is largely one of aspect—e.g., “John wrote a letter yesterday” (implying that he finished it) versus “John was writing a letter yesterday” (describing an ongoing process, with no implication as to whether it was finished or not).

The imperfective aspect, traditionally called “present,” was used for repeated actions and for ongoing processes or states—e.g., *stí-stH2-(e)- ‘stand up more than once, be in the process of standing up,’ *mn̥-yé- ‘ponder, think,’ *H1es- ‘be.’ The perfective aspect, traditionally called “aorist,” expressed a single, completed occurrence of an action or process—e.g., *steH2- ‘stand up, come to a stop,’ *men- ‘think of, bring to mind.’ The stative aspect, traditionally called “perfect,” described states of the subject—e.g., *ste-stóH2- ‘be in a standing position,’ *me-món- ‘have in mind.’

Verb roots were by themselves either perfective (like *steH2- ‘stand’ and *men- ‘think’) or imperfective (like *H1es- ‘be’). This basic aspect, however, could be reversed by morphological devices such as ablaut, suffixation, and reduplication. The stative aspect was normally marked by reduplication and the 0-grade of the root in the indicative singular; it had personal endings that were partly distinct from those of the other two aspects.

From one aspect of a given verb the shape and even the existence of the other two aspects could not be predicted; for example, *H1es- ‘be’ had only the imperfective aspect. Ways of forming imperfectives were especially numerous and often involved, in addition to their imperfective aspectual meaning, some other notion, such as performing the action habitually or repeatedly (iterative), or causing someone else to perform it (causative). One root could thus have several imperfective stems; so to the root *H1er- ‘move’ there were at least a causative form, *H1r̥-new- ‘set in motion,’ and an iterative form, *H1r̥-sḱḥ- ‘go repeatedly.’

The Proto-Indo-European verb was also inflected for mood, by which speakers could indicate whether they were making statements or inquiries about matters of fact; making predictions, surmises, or wishes about the future or about unreal but imagined situations; or giving commands. Compare English “If John is home now (he is eating lunch)” with the verb is in the indicative mood, discussing a matter of fact, with “If John were home now (he would be eating lunch)” with the verb were in the subjunctive mood, describing an unreal situation. There were two Proto-Indo-European suffixes expressing mood: -e- alternating with -o- for the subjunctive, corresponding roughly in meaning to the English auxiliaries ‘shall’ and ‘will,’ and -yeH1- alternating with -iH1- for the optative, corresponding roughly to English ‘should’ and ‘would.’ Verbs without one of these two suffixes were marked for mood and tense by their personal endings alone.

These personal endings basically expressed the person and number of the verb’s subject, as in Latin amō ‘I love,’ amās ‘you (singular) love,’ amat ‘he or she loves,’ amāmus ‘we love,’ and so on. In the imperfective and perfective aspects there were two sets of endings, distinguishing two voices: active, in which typically the subject was not affected by the action, and mediopassive, in which typically the subject was affected, directly or indirectly. Thus, Sanskrit active yájati and mediopassive yájate both mean ‘he sacrifices,’ but the former is said of a priest who performs a sacrifice for the benefit of another, while the latter is said of a layman who hires a priest to perform a sacrifice. In the stative aspect there was originally no distinction of voice.

To mark mood and tense, imperfective verbs that did not have a mood suffix distinguished three subtypes of active and mediopassive endings: imperative, primary, and secondary. Verbs with imperative endings belonged to the imperative mood (used for commands)—e.g., *H1s-dhí ‘be (singular),’ *H1és-tu ‘let him be.’ Verbs with primary endings were marked as non-past (present or future) in tense and indicative in mood—e.g., *H1és-ti ‘he is.’ (Indicative mood signifies objective statements and questions.) Verbs with secondary endings were unmarked for tense and mood but were normally used as past indicatives (e.g., *H1és-t ‘he was,’ *gwhén-t ‘he slew’) and to fill out gaps in the imperative paradigm (e.g., *H1és-te or *H1s-té ‘you [plural] were,’ but also ‘be [plural]’; *gwhén-te or *gwhn̥-té ‘you [plural] slew,’ but also ‘slay [plural]’). To mark such forms unambiguously as past indicatives, an augment, usually consisting of the vowel e, could be prefixed—e.g., *é-gwhen-t ‘he slew,’ *é-H1es-t ‘he was.’

Verbs in the perfective aspect without a mood suffix did not occur with primary endings and thus lacked a true present tense. Verbs in the stative aspect substituted a distinctive set of endings for those of the primary set but apparently used the imperative and secondary endings in the usual way to form a stative imperative and a stative past indicative.

Nominal inflection

The inflectional categories of the noun were case, number, and gender. Eight cases can be reconstructed: nominative, for the subject of a verb; accusative, for the direct object; genitive, for the relations expressed by English of; dative, corresponding to the English preposition to, as in “give a prize to the winner”; locative, corresponding to at, in; ablative, from; instrumental, with; and vocative, used for the person being addressed. For examples of some of these, see Table 2. Besides singular and plural number, there was a dual number for referring to two items. Each noun belonged to one of three genders: masculine, to which belonged most nouns designating male creatures; feminine, to which belonged most names of female creatures; and neuter, to which belonged only a few words for individual adult living creatures. The gender of nouns not designating living creatures was only partly predictable from their meaning.

Adjectives were nounlike words that varied in gender according to the gender of another noun with which they were in agreement, or, if used by themselves, according to the sex of the entity to which they referred; thus, Latin bonus sermō ‘good speech’ (masculine), bona aetās ‘good age’ (feminine), bonum cor ‘good heart’ (neuter), or bonus ‘a good man,’ bona ‘a good woman,’ bonum ‘a good thing.’ The neuter of an adjective was often identical with the masculine except for having different endings in the nominative and accusative cases. Feminine gender was either completely identical with the masculine or derived from it by means of a suffix, the two commonest being *-eH2- and *-iH2- (*-yeH2-).

Demonstrative, interrogative, relative, and indefinite pronouns were inflected like adjectives, with some special endings. Personal pronouns were inflected very differently. They lacked the category of gender, and they marked number and case (in part) not by endings but by different stems, as is still seen in English singular nominative “I,” but oblique “my,” “me”; plural nominative “we,” but plural oblique “our,” “us.” (The oblique is any case other than nominative or vocative.)


Some notable features of Proto-Indo-European syntax were the non-ergative case system, in which the subject of an intransitive verb received the same case marking as the subject (rather than the object) of a transitive verb; concord (agreement) in case, number, and gender between adjective and noun; and the use of singular verbs with neuter plural subjects, as in Greek pánta rheĩ ‘all things flow,’ with the same (singular) verb as ho pótamos rheĩ ‘the river (masculine) flows,’ contrasting with hoi pótamoi rhéousi ‘the rivers flow’ (indicating that neuter plurals were originally collectives and grammatically singular). Proto-Indo-European word order was flexible, but basic declarative sentences typically had the structure subject–object–verb (SOV).



Proto-Indo-European mythology

Proto-Indo-European mythology (W)

Proto-Indo-European mythology is the body of myths and stories associated with the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Although these stories are not directly attested, they have been reconstructed by scholars of comparative mythology based on the similarities in the belief systems of various Indo-European peoples.


The Kernosovskiy idol, discovered in 1973 in Kernosovka (Kernosivka) and dated to the middle of the third millennium BC and associated with the late Pit Grave (Yamna) culture.


Various schools of thought exist regarding the precise nature of Proto-Indo-European mythology, which do not always agree with each other. The main mythologies used in comparative reconstruction are Vedic, Roman, and Norse, often supported with evidence from the Baltic, Celtic, Greek, Slavic, and Hittite traditions as well.

The Proto-Indo-European pantheon includes well-attested deities such as *Dyḗus Pḥatḗr, the god of the daylit skies, his daughter *Haéusōs, the goddess of the dawn, the divine twins, and the storm god *Perkwunos. Other probable deities include *Péh2usōn, a pastoral god, and *Seh2ul, a female solar deity.

Well-attested myths of the Proto-Indo-Europeans include a myth involving a storm god who slays a multi-headed serpent that dwells in water and a creation story involving two brothers, one of whom sacrifices the other to create the world. The Proto-Indo-Europeans may have believed that the Otherworld was guarded by a watchdog and could only be reached by crossing a river. They also may have believed in a world tree, bearing fruit of immortality, either guarded by or gnawed on by a serpent or dragon, and tended by three goddesses who spun the thread of life.



Proto-Indo-European society

Proto-Indo-European society (W)

Proto-Indo-European society is the hypothesized culture of the ancient speakers of Proto-Indo-European, ancestors of all modern Indo-European ethnic groups who are speakers of Indo-European languages.

Theories about the culture are based primarily on linguistics and not ethnic, social, or cultural study, as the origin of Indo-European and their urheimat is still debated. There is no direct evidence of the nature of a "Proto-Indo-European society", as such. Any conclusions in this article or otherwise are only purely linguistic inferences, and not established facts.

Much of our modern ideas in this field involve the unsettled Indo-European homeland debate about the precise origins of the language itself. There are three main approaches researchers have employed in their attempts to study this culture, but all are subject to resolution of the debate and all are the subject of criticism:

  • Archeology: Interpretations that are based on archaeological evidence.
  • Comparative linguistics: Interpretations that are based on the comparative analysis of the languages of historically known societies (see Trifunctional hypothesis).
  • Linguistic reconstruction: Interpretations that are based on the reconstruction and identification of words (those cited *thus on this page, with a preceding asterisk) which formed part of the vocabulary of the Proto-Indo-European language. These are reconstructed on the basis of sounds, not meaning. Exactly what these terms may have referred to at the stage of Proto-Indo-European is therefore less certain. The technique of inferring culture from such reconstructions is known as linguistic palaeontology.

What follows in this page are interpretations based only on the assumption of the Kurgan hypothesis of Indo-European origins, and are by no means universally accepted.

Societal structure

Whether these people regarded themselves as a linguistic or ethnic community cannot be known, nor by which name they may have referred to themselves.

Linguistics has allowed the reliable reconstruction of a large number of words relating to kinship relations. These all agree in exhibiting a patriarchal, patrilocal and patrilineal social fabric. Patrilocality is confirmed by lexical evidence, including the word *h2u̯edh, "to lead (away)", being the word that denotes a male wedding a female (but not vice versa). It is also the dominant pattern in historical IE societies, and matrilocality would be unlikely in a patrilineal society.

Inferences have been made for sacral kingship, suggesting the tribal chief at the same time assumed the role of high priest. Georges Dumézil suggested for Proto-Indo-European society a threefold division of a clerical class, a warrior class and a class of farmers or husbandmen, on his interpretations that many historically known groups speaking Indo-European languages show such a division, but Dumézil's approach has been widely criticised.

If there was a separate class of warriors, it probably consisted of single young men. They would have followed a separate warrior code unacceptable in the society outside their peer-group. Traces of initiation rites in several Indo-European societies (e.g. early Slav, Volcae, Neuri and their lupine ritualism) suggest that this group identified itself with wolves or dogs (see Berserker, Werewolf, Wild Hunt).

The people were organized in settlements (*weiḱs; Sanskrit viś, Polish wieś "village"; Ancient Greek woikos "home"; Latin vicus), probably each with its chief (*h₃rēǵs—Sanskrit rājan, Latin rex, reg-, Gaulish -riks). These settlements or villages were further divided in households (*domos; Latin domus, Polish dom), each headed by a patriarch (*dems-potis; Ancient Greek despotes, Sanskrit dampati, Polish pan domu).




Indo-Europeans (L-The History Files)

Scholars first noticed similarities between Sanskrit and Latin and Greek in the sixteenth century, as Europeans came into contact with India. But it was the British Asiatic Society in eighteenth century India under Sir William Jones that compared words across the three languages and found remarkable similarities. From this it was deduced that a common ‘Proto-Indo-European’ (PIE) root lay at the heart of all three languages and their peoples. This linked them back to an ancestral homeland that was probably located in the sweeping expanse of the steppes of Central Asia, to the north of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. Scholars disagree about the precise location of this homeland even today, with a variety of others being proposed that include Anatolia and post-glacial Europe itself. Even so, the aforementioned steppes are still the favoured location, providing as they did a home to many later, similar groups of nomads such as the Huns and Turks.

How these people got there is unknown, but India was one of the first places to be colonised by early humans after they left Africa around 90-70,000 years ago (see the Hominid Chronology feature). Some of these people stayed where they were and others continued to follow the coastline to populate China and South East Asia. It seems likely that, after migrating inland, others further migrated northwards and in time formed communities around the steppes. Whether these communities existed in an unbroken line down to their developing into proto-Indo-Europeans can never be known. But however they developed, the proto-Indo-Europeans were in existence by the sixth millennium BC, in a homeland that seems to have been located somewhere between the Caucuses Mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and the northern shores of those same seas. Their subsequent migration is a hugely complex and contentious subject.

Whatever unknown level of unity these early Indo-Europeans may have had, they began to divide in the third millennium BC. Various groups migrated out of Central Asia from then onwards, pushed westwards and southwards by a combination of climate change, population movements, and perhaps pressure from other peoples further east. Their once-single language gradually altered into various dialects that can be divided into twelve branches, ten of which contain surviving languages. Very briefly, these are the Anatolians (the Hittites, Luwians, Lydians, and Pala), the Balts (such as the Latvians, Lithuanians, and Old Prussians on the eastern Baltic Sea coast), Celts (who once dominated Central and Western Europe), the Germanic peoples (who originate from Old Norse and Saxon peoples), the Greeks (most notably the Mycenaeans and Athenians), the Illyrians (of the northern and eastern Adriatic coast, surviving in Albania and with a level of heritage in southern Italy), the Indians (the disputed Indo-Aryan peoples as opposed to the pre-existing Dravidic groups who were generally pushed southwards), the Iranians (in the form of the Alani, Mannaeans, Medians, Persians, Scythians, and others), the Latins (embodied by the Romans), the Slavs (who emerged to dominate Eastern Europe by the medieval period), the Thracians (of northern Greece and the Balkans which also includes Armenians), and finally the Tocharians (in north-western China, who were closely related to the Anatolian, Celtic, and Latin branches).

Recent genetic testing of living peoples, and ancient remains, are pointing in a slightly different direction from the standing Caucasian Mountains origin for Indo-Europeans. Males carry and transmit via their Y chromosome the history of male migration, critical for tracing the movements of warrior societies. Indo-European Y chromosomes carry two primary 'flavours', called R1a and R1b by geneticists. R1a is found strongly in Slavs, Balts, and Indo-Iranians, and is mixed with R1b in Germanic-speaking peoples. The geographic distribution in ancient times for R1a is European Russia just west of the Ural Mountains. R1b is found among other Indo-Europeans, being prominent among ancient Celts, Italics and similar (although it's important to note that not all R1b are Indo-Europeans). Geographic distribution appears to have begun with early cattle herders in south-eastern Turkey and northern Iraq, some of whom moved into the pasturage on the open steppes of Asia to the east of the Caspian Sea. What we have is an origin in the Russian forest and forest-steppe for half the Indo-Europeans (those linguistically matching the satem (East) branch of Indo-European languages, and occupying half the territory previously assigned to Uralics), and an open steppe origin for all other Indo-Europeans (matching the centum (West) branch of Indo-European languages). This threatens to invalidate the previously dominant theory of a Caucasian Mountains homeland for the Indo-Europeans, instead moving them farther north and east. It remains to be seen whether this DNA-based theory will supersede the established linguistics theory.

(Information by Peter Kessler and Edward Dawson, with additional information by Jo Amdahl, from The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, David W Anthony, from A Genetic Signal of Central European Celtic Ancestry, David K Faux, from the BBC Radio 3 programme with Bettany Hughes, Tracking the Aryans, 2011, and from External Links: Massive migration from the steppe was a source for Indo-European languages in Europe, Nature.com, and Peering at the Tocharians through Language, and Indo-European Chronology - Countries and Peoples, and also Indo-European Etymological Dictionary, J Pokorny.)





Indo-European Languages
  • The Avesta is the primary collection of religious texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the otherwise unrecorded Avestan language.
  • Avestan (also known historically as Zend) refers to two languages: Old Avestan (spoken in the 2nd millennium BCE) and Younger Avestan (spoken in the 1st millennium BCE).
  • With possible roots dating back to the second millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism enters recorded history in the 5th century BCE.

Indo-Iranian languages

Indo-Iranian languages (W)

Distribution of the Indo-Iranian languages

The Indo-Iranian languages, Indo-Iranic languages, or Aryan languages constitute the largest and southeasternmost extant branch of the Indo-European language family. It has more than 1.5 billion speakers, stretching from Europe (Romani), Turkey (Kurdish and Zaza–Gorani) and the Caucasus (Ossetian) eastward to Xinjiang (Sarikoli) and Assam (Assamese), and south to Sri Lanka (Sinhalese) and the Maldives(Maldivian). Furthermore, there are large communities of Indo-Iranian speakers in northwestern Europe (the United Kingdom), North America and Australia.

The common ancestor of all of the languages in this family is called Proto-Indo-Iranian — also known as Common Aryan — which was spoken in approximately the late 3rd millennium BC. The three branches of the modern Indo-Iranian languages are Indo-Aryan, Iranian, and Nuristani. Additionally, sometimes a fourth independent branch, Dardic, is posited, but recent scholarship in general places Dardic languages as archaic members of the Indo-Aryan branch.

Most of the largest languages (in terms of speakers) are a part of the Indo-Aryan group: Hindustani (Urdu/Hindi), (~590 million), Bengali (205 million), Punjabi (100 million), Marathi (75 million), Gujarati (50 million), Bhojpuri (40 million), Awadhi (40 million), Maithili (35 million), Odia (35 million), Marwari (30 million), Sindhi (25 million), Assamese (24 million), Rajasthani (20 million), Chhattisgarhi (18 million), Sinhalese (19 million), Nepali (17 million), Bishnupuriya (12 million) and Rangpuri (15 million). Among the Iranian branch, major languages are Persian (60 million), Pashto (ca. 50 million), Kurdish (35 million), and Balochi (8 million), with a total number of native speakers of more than 1471 million. Numerous smaller languages exist.

The common proto-language of the Indo-Iranian languages is Proto-Indo-Iranian, which has been reconstructed.

The oldest attested Indo-Iranian languages are Vedic Sanskrit (ancient Indo-Aryan), Older and Younger Avestan and Old Persian (ancient Iranian languages). A few words from another Indo-Aryan language (see Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni) are attested in documents from the ancient Mitanni and Hittite kingdoms in the Near East.


Iranian peoples

Iranian peoples (W)

The Iranian peoples, or the Iranic peoples, are a diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group that comprise the speakers of the Iranian languages.

The Proto-Iranians are believed to have emerged as a separate branch of the Indo-Iranians in Central Asia in the mid-2nd millennium BCE. At their peak of expansion in the mid-1st millennium BCE, the territory of the Iranian peoples stretched across the entire Eurasian Steppe from the Great Hungarian Plain in the west to the Ordos Plateau in the east, to the Iranian Plateau in the south. The Western Iranian empires of the south came to dominate much of the ancient world from the 6th century BCE, leaving an important cultural legacy; and the Eastern Iranians of the steppe played a decisive role in the development of Eurasian nomadism and the Silk Road.

The ancient Iranian peoples who emerged after the 1st millennium BCE include the Alans, Bactrians, probably Cimmerians, Dahae, Khwarezmians, Massagetae, Medes, Parthians, Persians, Sagartians, Sakas, Sarmatians, Scythians, Sogdians, among other Iranian-speaking peoples of Western Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the Eastern Steppe.

In the 1st millennium CE, their area of settlement was reduced as a result of Slavic, Germanic, Turkic, and Mongol expansions, and many were subjected to Slavicisation and Turkification. Modern Iranian-speaking peoples include the Baloch, Gilaks, Kurds, Lurs, Mazanderanis, Ossetians, Pamiris, Pashtuns, Persians, Tajiks, the Talysh, Wakhis, and Yaghnobis. Their current distribution spreads across the Iranian Plateau, stretching from the Caucasus in the north to the Persian Gulf in the south and from eastern Turkey in the west to western Xinjiang in the east — a region that is sometimes called the Iranian Cultural Continent, representing the extent of the Iranian-speakers and the significant influence of the Iranian peoples through the geopolitical reach of Greater Iran.




Indo-Iranians (W)

Indo-Iranian peoples, also known as Indo-Iranic peoples by scholars, and sometimes as Arya or Aryans from their self-designation, were an ethno-linguistic group who brought the Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, to major parts of Eurasia.

Map of the Sintashta-Petrovka culture (red), its expansion into the Andronovo culture (orange) during the 2nd millennium BC, showing the overlap with the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (chartreuse green) in the south. The location of the earliest chariots is shown in magenta.


The term Aryan has been used historically to denote the Indo-Iranians, because Arya is the self designation of the ancient speakers of the Indo-Iranian languages, specifically the Iranian and the Indo-Aryan peoples, collectively known as the Indo-Iranians. Some scholars now use the term Indo-Iranian to refer to this group, while the term "Aryan" is used to mean "Indo-Iranian" by other scholars such as Josef Wiesehofer, Will Durant, and Jaakko Häkkinen. Population geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, in his 1994 book The History and Geography of Human Genes, also uses the term Aryan to describe the Indo-Iranians.


The early Indo-Iranians are commonly identified with the descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans known as the Sintashta culture and the subsequent Andronovo culture within the broader Andronovo horizon, and their homeland with an area of the Eurasian steppe that borders the Ural River on the west, the Tian Shan on the east (where the Indo-Iranians took over the area occupied by the earlier Afanasevo culture), and Transoxiana and the Hindu Kush on the south. Historical linguists broadly estimate that a continuum of Indo-Iranian languages probably began to diverge by 2000 BC, if not earlier, preceding both the Vedic and Iranian cultures. The earliest recorded forms of these languages, Vedic Sanskrit and Gathic Avestan, are remarkably similar, descended from the common Proto-Indo-Iranian language. The origin and earliest relationship between the Nuristani languages and that of the Iranian and Indo-Aryan groups is not completely clear.


Scheme of Indo-European migrations from c. 4000 to 1000 BC according to the Kurgan hypothesis. The magenta area corresponds to the assumed Urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog culture). The red area corresponds to the area which may have been settled by Indo-European-speaking peoples up to c. 2500 BC; the orange area to 1000 BC.

Two-wave models of Indo-Iranian expansion have been proposed by Burrow (1973) and Parpola (1999). The Indo-Iranians and their expansion are strongly associated with the Proto-Indo-European invention of the chariot. It is assumed that this expansion spread from the Proto-Indo-European homeland north of the Caspian sea south to the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Iranian plateau, and Northern India. They also expanded into Mesopotamia and Syria and introduced the horse and chariot culture to this part of the world. Sumerian texts from EDIIIb Girsu (2500-2350 BC) already mention the 'chariot' (gigir) and Ur III texts (2150-2000 BC) mention the horse (anshe-zi-zi).

Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC, Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan movements. (W)


Yaz culture

Yaz culture (W)

Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC).

The Yaz culture (named after the type site Yaz-depe, Yaz Depe, or Yaz Tepe, near Baýramaly, Turkmenistan) was an early Iron Age culture of Margiana, Bactria and Sogdia (ca. 1500-500 BC). It emerges at the top of late Bronze Age sites (BMAC), sometimes as stone towers and sizeable houses associated with irrigation systems. Ceramics were mostly hand-made, but there was increasing use of wheel-thrown ware. There have been found bronze or iron arrowheads, also iron sickles or carpet knives among other artifacts.

With the farming citadels, steppe-derived metallurgy and ceramics, and absence of burials it has been regarded as a likely archaeological reflection of early East Iranian culture as described in the Avesta. So far, no burials related to the culture have been found, and this is taken as possible evidence of the Zoroastrian practice of exposure or sky burial.


Indo-Iranians / Indo-Aryans

Indo-Iranians / Indo-Aryans (LINK)

Indo-Iranians and Indo-Aryans were the eastern descendants of Indo-Europeans. The terms ‘Indo-Iranian’ and ‘Indo-Aryan’ refer essentially to the same people, although with a division which was related to language dialect and geographical placement. The older term of 'Aryan' which was originally used to describe these peoples has rather distasteful connotations due to its use by the Nazis.

The groups which formed these two divisions appear to have originated to the north and east of the Caspian steppe. This was prior to the Yamnaya horizon event which saw the widespread outwards migration of Indo-Europeans (IEs). While the steppe dwellers generally headed west, the ancestors of the Indo-Iranians and Indo-Aryans moved east, displacing some earlier tribal populations of foragers with their horse-riding, cattle-herding sophistication. From there they spread out between southern Siberia and Central Asia, setting up two related cultures to the north of the Aral Sea and the Syr Daria (River Jaxartes/Tanais) which were eastward expressions of the Yamnaya.

The original spur for this sudden expansion lay in the Middle East, somewhere between south-eastern Anatolia (today's Turkey) and northern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), where cattle herding was invented when wild aurochs were tamed. This new economy quickly proved its worth and soon spread in all directions in which cattle could graze, along with the people who invented it. Some of them crossed the Caucasian Mountains (the western end on the Black Sea coast would be a favourite location for such a tricky crossing), and spread out amongst the steppe-dwelling proto-Indo-Europeans to the north of the mountains. This cattle herding technology was eventually augmented there by the use of the horse, vital for herding on the vast, open plains of the Pontic-Caspian steppe. The newcomers adopted the local language, and this appears to have formed the basis for centum-speaking Indo-Europeans (involving western Indo-European language groups).

In the forests to the north of this steppeland, relatively untouched groups of forager IEs slowly adapted to the new technology without being subsumed by the newcomers, probably via contact with their steppe-dwelling cousins; these were the satem variety of IE speakers (the later eastern language groups). They were the ancestors of Indo-Iranians, Indo-Aryans, Slavs, and Balts (Lithuanians, most Latvians, and Old Prussians), and they also provided part of the ancestry of Germanics (which explains why Germanics were notably different from their Celtic neighbours - see below). Once the horse was introduced, the great steppe nomad expansion soon occurred - known as the Yamnaya horizon - with IEs entering Central Europe, Anatolia, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Eventually, India, theIranian highlands, and eastern Asia would follow.

In Central Asia, two cultures which emerged were the Andronovo (actually an horizon) and Sintashta. These succeeded the Yamnaya horizon, seemingly as the aforementioned eastwards expressions of Yamnaya migration. It is these cultures that are most often cited as a possible birthplace of the proto-Indo-Iranian language. The earlier Abashevo and Poltavka cultures are also linked to this event - seemingly supplying the pastoral nomads who formed the later cultures. Farther south, the indigenous Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) soon emerged, centred in the later provinces of Bactria and Margiana. This provided a vital trading link between the proto-Indo-Iranians and the high cultures of Mesopotamia and Iran, and served to encourage the Andronovo and Sintashta people to develop their industries. It also seemed to encourage then to migrate southwards where they soon overran the BMAC during its later, weaker years. There they developed and then expanded into north-western South Asia, with further migrations into India (from about 1700 BC) and Iran (from about 1200-800 BC).

The Indo-European word 'arya' meant the 'civilised' or 'respectable' according to general scholarly opinion. This word, added to a plural suffix, possibly -na, produced Aryana, which is how these people referred to themselves. The East Indo-Europeans who supplied the tribes which formed the later Indo-Iranians and Indo-Aryans were documented as calling themselves Aryans when they entered India. This rather elitist naming is explained as a reaction to the apparently barbarous people they encountered, although an earlier reason may supply the true meaning because the name clearly predated the migration into India (its survival in Central Asia and Iran shows this). The 'barbarous people' were more likely those of the forager cultures encountered when the IEs first migrated to the east of the Caspian Sea, although at this stage the word may still have borne an earlier meaning - it could be seen as being the verb 'to be', used as a noun instead of a verb.

In reality Indo-Iranians and Indo-Aryans formed a single cultural and language group. The two terms are merely convenient ways of describing groups of them following a gradual division in Central Asia and then entering Iran (the Indo-Iranians) and India (Indo-Aryans). It does not specifically describe those who remained behind in the north of Central Asia (Scythians and Sarmatians), although since the Indo-Aryans of India were, to an extent, isolated on the other side of the Hindu Kush and River Indus, it is easier to relate the Central Asian stay-at-homes as Indo-Iranians, and this is usually what happens with modern scholars. In fact, the term 'Iranian' is only a later modified form of 'arya', as is 'Alan', with the Indo-Iranian Alani eventually settling in the northern Caucuses.

The core of the early first millennium Indo-Iranian homeland in southern Central Asia and northern South Asia appears to have been the land of Tūr (and the later kingdom of Turan). This was within an 'Asia' which may also be an Indo-Iranian name (see feature, right). The land of Tūr appears to have focused mainly on the later provinces of Bactria and Margiana, along with the Kopet Dag region, the Atrek valley, and the eastern Alborz Mountains. This would appear to place it on the northern border of another ancient region, that ofAriana (another form of that same word - Aryana). The focus in Ariana is less clear, but this region was the gateway into India so that focus was probably eastwards. Bactra (modern Balkh) in Bactria is often considered to have been the first city reached by Indo-Iranian tribes moving southwards from the steppeland. They may have reached it between 2000-1500 BC, and it later became a centre of Zoroastrianism.

When it came to methods of worship, the East Indo-European rituals and gods were more male-centred than their West Indo-European counterparts (but certainly not exclusively - Rig Veda contains plenty of female goddesses). Eastern Yamnaya people shared borders with northern and eastern foragers who did not make female figurines, so they themselves may have seen less inclination to do so. In East Indo-European branches the spirit of the domestic hearth was male (Agni). In Indo-Iranian, the furies of war were male Maruts. Eastern Yamnaya graves on the Volga contained a higher percentage (80%) of males than any other Yamnaya region.

As for the Germanics and their notable differences from their Celtic neighbours, this is one peculiarity which has commonly been raised by linguists. There are a number of parallels between East IE Indo-Iranians and West IE Germanics. Frankly the presence of Germanic language-speaking peoples in Scandinavia makes no sense in terms of a smooth 'wave front' of Indo-European migration. They are an anomaly next to the Celts. They are more like the Aryana than they are the Celts. This includes exalting the asuras as the Os and Æsir, and the use of that plural suffix, '-na', seen as '-an' and '-on' among some Germanic tribes, but still used as '-na' by the Angles, giving the English their spelling of Mercia as Mercna. The explanation seems either to be that the Germanics were formed by a northern group of IEs, one which probably lay at the border between centum (West) and satem (East) speakers and was influenced by both before they migrated to Scandinavia, or that a group of East IEs were either part of the migration of a West IE segment or followed on behind them to add that vital satem influence to their later language.

(Information by Peter Kessler and Edward Dawson, with additional information from the Encyclopaedia of Indo-European Culture, J P Mallory & D Q Adams (Eds, 1997), from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, David W Anthony, from A Genetic Signal of Central European Celtic Ancestry, David K Faux, from the BBC Radio 3 programme with Bettany Hughes, Tracking the Aryans, 2011, from The Turks in World History, Carter Vaughn Findley (Oxford University Press 2005), from Ethnogenesis in the tribal zone: The Shaping of the Turks, Peter Benjamin Golden (2005), and from External Links: Massive migration from the steppe was a source for Indo-European languages in Europe, Nature.com, and Peering at the Tocharians through Language, and Indo-European Chronology - Countries and Peoples, and alsoIndo-European Etymological Dictionary, J Pokorny, and Zarathustra (Encyclopaedia Britannica).)


  🗺️ Primary Human Language Families Map

🗺️ Primary Human Language Families Map

Primary Human Language Families Map (W)


  🗺️ The Branches of the Altaic language family

Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, Koreanic and the Japonic languages;
widely discredited; first proposed in the 18th century

🗺️ The branches of the Altaic language family

The branches of the Altaic language family (W)


Altaic languages

Altaic languages (W)

Altaic is a hypothetical language family of central Eurasia and Siberia first proposed in the 18th century, but whose existence is widely discredited among comparative linguists. The Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic groups are invariably included in the family; some authors added Koreanic and the Japonic languages. The latter expanded grouping came to be known as "Macro-Altaic", leading to the designation of the smaller former grouping as "Micro-Altaic" by retronymy. Most proponents of Altaic continue to support the inclusion of Korean. These languages are spoken in a wide arc stretching from Eastern Europe through Anatolia and eastern Caucasus through North Asia and Central Asia to the Korean Peninsula and Japanese archipelago in East Asia. The group is named after the Altai mountain range in the center of Asia.

The hypothesis of common origin for some or all of these languages—that is, the theory that they form a language family—was widespread before the 1960s, but has almost no supporters among specialists today. Opponents of the Altaic hypothesis maintain that the similarities are due to areal interaction between the language groups concerned. The inclusion of Korean and Japanese has also been criticized and disputed by other linguists. As for Turkic, Tungusic, and Mongolic, if they were related genetically, earlier forms would be closer than modern forms. This is true for all accepted linguistic families. However, an analysis of the earliest written records of Mongolic and Turkic languages shows fewer similarities rather than more, which suggests that they do not share a common ancestor but rather have become more similar through language contact and areal effects. Because of this, most modern linguists do not accept the Altaic family.



  🗺️ Linguistic map of the Altaic, Turkic and Uralic languages

obsolete language-family;
since the 1960s, the hypothesis has been widely rejected.

🗺️ Linguistic map of the Altaic, Turkic and Uralic languages

Linguistic map of the Altaic, Turkic and Uralic languages (W)

  • Deutsch: Karte der geographischen Verteilung der Altaischen Sprachen, der Turksprachen und der Uralischen Sprachen
  • English: Linguistic map of the Altaic, Turkic and Uralic languages
  • Türkçe: Altay, Türk ve Ural dilleri haritası

Ural-Altaic languages

Ural-Altaic languages (W)

Ural–Altaic, Uralo-Altaic or Uraltaic, also known as Turanian, is an obsolete language-family proposal uniting the Uralic and the widely discredited Altaic languages.

Originally suggested in the 18th century, the hypothesis remained debated into the mid-20th century, often with disagreements exacerbated by pan-nationalist agendas. It had many proponents in Britain. Since the 1960s, the hypothesis has been widely rejected. From the 1990s, interest in a relationship between the Altaic, Indo-European and Uralic families has been revived in the context of the Eurasiatic linguistic superfamily hypothesis. Bomhard (2008) treats Uralic, Altaic and Indo-European as Eurasiatic daughter groups on equal footing.

Both Ural-Altaic and Altaic remain relevant — and still insufficiently understood — concepts of areal linguistics and typology, even if in a genetic sense these terms might be considered as obsolete.



İdea Yayınevi Site Haritası | İdea Yayınevi Tüm Yayınlar
© Aziz Yardımlı 2018-2019 | aziz@ideayayinevi.com