Mythos 49 – Indo-European Languages

 

The Indo-European Family Tree

One of the world’s more mysterious ancient civilizations was the ancient Aryan civilization. This enigmatic civilization left a massive linguistic imprint on the world, with most European and South Asian languages derived from the ancient Aryan language, including languages as widespread as English, German, French, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Dutch, Ukrainian, Afrikaans, Farsi, and Urdu. This mysterious civilization also left us the massive ancient library of hymns that composes the Ṛigveda and Avestan Gathas, but no buildings, cities, or monuments.

The name Aryans, is based on the ancient Sanskrit word Arya meaning noble,(1)Thomas R. Trautman (2004) Aryans and British India, Page xxxii which was the name of this people in ancient times, and continues to be widely used in Iran, Afghanistan, and South Asia today.(2)Gherardo Gnoli (2002) The “Aryan” Language Unfortunately the word has become associated with the racist policies of Nazi era Germany by westerners,(3)Frederic C. Mish, editor in chief (1994) “Aryan,” Webster’s Tenth New Collegiate Dictionary, Page 66 and therefore is not widely used in its historic contexts in the west, and when used is limited to its Indo-Iranian context.(4)Benjamin W. Fortson, IV (2011) Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, Page 109 While politically-correct, this does seem to create an artificial barrier between the Indo-Europeans of Europe, and the Indo-Europeans of Asia.

Indo-European Languages Circa 500 BC

This ancient culture has left the single largest cultural imprint on the modern world, and yet very little is really known about it. These ancient tribes seem to have migrated across a vast region of the Eurasian continent from Europe to Xinjiang (China), and south to Iran and India in the earliest historic era. It is not known when they arrived in most of Europe, however it is widely accepted that they migrated into Central Asia around 4,700 years ago,(5)J. P. Mallory (1997) “Poltavka Culture”, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture Greece sometime around 4,000 years ago,(6)Geoffrey Horrocks (1997) “Homer’s Dialect” in Ian Morris and Barry B. Powell: A New Companion to Homer, Page 193–217 Anatolia around 4,000 years ago,(7)Trevor Bryce (2005) The Kingdom of the Hittites: New Edition, Page 12 Xinjiang around 3,800 years ago,(8)J. P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair (2000) The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West, Page 237 Pakistan around 3,600 years ago,(9)Elena E. Kuz’mina (2007) The origin of the Indo-Iranians, Volume 3, Page 318 Iran around 3,500 years ago,(10)Elena E. Kuz’mina (2007) The origin of the Indo-Iranians, Volume 3, Page 370 and northern Iraq and Syria around 3,500 years ago.(11)Trevor Bryce (2005) The Kingdom of the Hittites, Page 98 This is based on a synthesis of work by linguists, archaeologists, historians, and analysis of the oldest surviving and translated Indo-European texts, the Vedas, the Gathas, and the Yasna Haptanghaiti.

Countries Where Indo-European Languages are Official or Co-Official Today

Countries Where Indo-European Languages are Official or Co-Official Today

The Vedas form the oldest existing texts of the Hindu religions, while the Gathas and Yasna Haptanghaiti form the oldest existing text of Zoroastrian religion. Both the Vedas and Gathas are collections of hymns, intended to be recited, not sung. The meter of the hymns in the Gathas is historically related to the Vedic tristubh-jagati family of meters.(12)Bernfried Schlerath (1969) “Der Terminus aw. Gāθā,” Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft, Volume 25, Page 99–103 The oldest surviving Vedic texts are in Vedic Sanskrit, while the oldest Gathas and Yasna Haptanghaiti are in Gathic Avestan. Vedic Sanskrit and Gathic Avestan are two closely related the ancient Aryan languages.

References   [ + ]

1. Thomas R. Trautman (2004) Aryans and British India, Page xxxii
2. Gherardo Gnoli (2002) The “Aryan” Language
3. Frederic C. Mish, editor in chief (1994) “Aryan,” Webster’s Tenth New Collegiate Dictionary, Page 66
4. Benjamin W. Fortson, IV (2011) Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, Page 109
5. J. P. Mallory (1997) “Poltavka Culture”, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture
6. Geoffrey Horrocks (1997) “Homer’s Dialect” in Ian Morris and Barry B. Powell: A New Companion to Homer, Page 193–217
7. Trevor Bryce (2005) The Kingdom of the Hittites: New Edition, Page 12
8. J. P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair (2000) The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West, Page 237
9. Elena E. Kuz’mina (2007) The origin of the Indo-Iranians, Volume 3, Page 318
10. Elena E. Kuz’mina (2007) The origin of the Indo-Iranians, Volume 3, Page 370
11. Trevor Bryce (2005) The Kingdom of the Hittites, Page 98
12. Bernfried Schlerath (1969) “Der Terminus aw. Gāθā,” Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft, Volume 25, Page 99–103