. [The West African Igbo language may have
predated all known languages: see Catherine Acholonu]
Lügen mit langen
Friedrich, FMES, Wörthsee, Germany
THE "INDO-EUROPEANS" AND THE CONCEPT OF
In: MIDWESTERN EPIGRAPHIC JOURNAL, Volume 17, Number 2, 2003
The author of this article has
just studied, with increasing fascination, a remarkable voluminous book (1)
by Prodosh Aich, a Bengali Indian who has, however, for decades been a member
of the German academic Establishment. He has studied ethnology, philosophy,
and sociology at Cologne University and has taught sociology at universities
in Cologne, Rajasthan (India), and Oldenburg. His "documentary
story", as he calls it is a revealing report about the real origins and
the de facto coming into existence of the Thesis of an (at first)
"Indo-Germanic" or (later) "Indo-European" so-called
"language family" and, by inference, of an Indo-European "race".
The idea of an "Indo-European language family"
It is a rather shocking report
indeed. One has to read it, to believe it. Although I have for years been
highly sceptical of that Indo-European "story", as it is generally
propagated by the that Indo-European "storv", as it is generally
propagated by the mainstream, and have regarded it as rather
"windy". I was nevertheless shocked by the degree of carelessness,
combinedideological bias, which, as Aich demonstrates, has been a
distinguishing feature of the work of all these Western
"Indologists" and "Sanskntists".
Aich has meticulously studied the
life and background, and the works of all the well-known scholars of the 17th
to 19th centuries in this field, like e.g. Filippo Sassetti, Roberto de Nobili,
Sir William Jones, Franz Bopp, Leonard de Chézv, Alexander Hamilton and F.
Max Müller. Not one of them did possess the necessary linguistic and
generally necessary, comprehensive scholarly competence to pronounce at their
time about these matters in the way they did.
invention of the "Aryan race"
It is Aich's thesis that all these
scholars of the 17th – 19th centuries were heavily influenced by contemporary
European superiority, supremacy and hegemony interests, at first more of a clerical-missionary,
later of an imperialist-colonizing nature, and that they were expected to
busily inflate that "balloon" of a superior "Aryan" (i.e.
European) "race". Therefore incidentally the "Aryans"
always had to have their origin in Europe. Because of all these rather
suspect circumstances which have accompanied the coming into existence of the
"Indo-European" and "Aryan" paradigm. Aich, when he uses
the German word "Lügen" (lies) already in his book title; obviously
does not simply mean an untrue or incorrect statement, but a deliberately
may well be that this concept of an "Indo-European" (or
"Aryan") "race" has a rightful claim to the title of the
most fatal, mental "balloon" of the history of the sciences.
Because it is well-known that from it evolved, first within Establishment
science and then also among non-Establishment "Weltbild"
ideologists, the whole modern "race" hysteria: the idea of
allegedly existing, distinctly different "races" of mankind, of
which certain (especially of course the "Aryan race") were alleged
to be of "superior", others of "inferior" quality.
Whereas originally it had only
been a belief in the existence of an "Indo-European language family
", in the course of only a few centuries it had become belief in the
undeniable fact of an "Aryan race": typical product of the strange
European-Christian self-concept at least among the "élite", which
had become used to regard themselves as a somehow chosen, superior race, with
a mission to fulfil, namely to dominate the world. Almost nobody objected
that the whole edifice rested on shaky foundations, to wit have linguistic
arguments became confused wlth somatic considerations in an obviously
“pseudoscientific” manner. As a sidelight we may mention in passing that,
against this 17th – 19th century background, the "race" hysteria in
Hitler's Germany (1933 – 1945) may well be understood as the culmination of
an almost pan-European mental aberration.
phantasm of an "Aryan invasion" of India
It seems that from the viewpoint of the "science of
science" (history, philosophy, and sociology of the sciences,
epistemology) all these scenarios of an Indo-European "race", and
Indo-European "homeland", an Indo-European "language
family", and an Indo-European migration from somewhere in the West
(preferably Europe) as far as India, can only be regarded as highly suspect.
Especially in view of the fact
that the enormously numerous and manifold Vedic and other Sanskrit works of
ancient India never mention any "Aryan invasion" of India. A recent
work by Feuerstein. Kak & Frawley (2) has two chapters with revealing
titles: "The Aryans: Exploding a Scientific Myth", and "Why
the Arian Invasion Never Happened: Seventeen Arguments". In accord with these
authors I can therefore only recommend that we throw this "package"
of untenable interrelated hypotheses overboard.
When there is no "Aryan
race", there is of course also no "Indo– European Homeland".
Besides, as Morgan Kelley (3) states:
attempting to reconstruct a genetic relationship among languages, Linguists
amass a common vocabulary which itself can be used to reconstruct much about
their material culture. Names for divinities and tribes, as well as for
domestic items, animals, crops and trees indicate a common culture from a
very early time. Yet even these basics do not lead all researchers in the
same directions" (p.208).
and "reconstructions" of prehistoric events dependent on
assumptions and presuppositions
Exactly this is the problem:
although a knowledge of such basics has doubtless a certain worth, it does
not and cannot quasi-automatically lead scholars to the correct scenario.
There are too many unknowns in the equation. After all we cannot expect more
than qualified speculation, because we are dealing with a past which no one
of us has personally witnessed. The interpretations of our basics and our
"reconstructions" of die factual relevant circumstances and events
in a far distant past are unavoidably heavily dependent on our assumptions
and presuppositions. These may be correct, or wrong, or a mixture of both.
The thesis of so-called
"language families" is such an a priori assumption or
presupposition, which has an effect comparable to an instance of rail
shunting: from now on all ensuing thinking has to go in only one direction,
to the exclusion of all other possibilities.
Such "language families"
are normally understood as a direct genetic relationship between languages,
reminding one of the genealogical "trees" of palaeontology. We can
visualize an ethnic entity (people, tribe), which for some reason split into
two or more factions, which migrate by land or sea to distant regions, have
in the course of time their original language may evolve in different
Doubtless such events will have
occurred repeatedly in the long history of the human race. But the present
author is of the opinion that such instances will have played only a minor
role in the unfolding of the bewilderingly multifarious linguistic
"landscape" on our planet.
substrata, and adstrata
By far the most important factor
in the development of this "landscape" will quite obviously have been
instances of linguistic superstrata, substrata, and adstrata, i. e. instances
where the language of a newly arrived ethno-linguistic superstratum has
affected the language of the "indigenes" or "natives" of
the substratum or, in the case of an adstratal influence, even the language
of a neighbouring people.
I am quite convinced that most
ethnic entities on our planet have been formed in a manner reminiscent of the
layers or strata of geology, by layer upon layer of ethno-linguistic superstrata,
with the difference that the strata of geology remain more or less separate
and distinct, whereas the ethno-linguistic layers will, in the course of
time, tend to result in an ethno-linguistic amalgam.
great majority creolized or amalgam languages
Therefore I propose that we will
have to take it as a fact that the great majority of today’s languages cannot
belong to the kind of above-described. conventional "language
families", but will have to be regarded as creolized or amalgam
languages, formed by an amalgamation of quite different languages.
such things can and do indeed occur, has been repeatedly shown. A creolized
language shows features from two or more "unrelated" (i.e. only
very distantly related) languages as a result of contact between different
language communities. Typically we find such in the Caribbean region. But as
I said above, I am today convinced that the great majority of today's spoken
languages belong to this group. Most interesting cases abound. I remember
having once studied a work by an eminent linguist about a certain region in
central India, have three languages belonging to different "language
families" (she still believed in that concept), by close contact between
the three language communities, were in the process of forming a new
creolized language even in our time. Sadly I have mislaid my Xerox copies I
made then, and so cannot cite from, or name my source.
Quite naturally, as my readers
will probably have sensed by now, I regard the so-called
"Indo-European" languages, too, as creolized languages. They, i.e.
the great majority of today’s European languages, plus some other languages
(e.g. Persian). had been given the name "Indo-European" because in
certain elements they seemed somehow related to the Sanskrit language of
thesis of a pre-Indo-European, Vasconic and Proto-Semitic Europe
Before I can continue to proceed
with the thread of my thesis that the "Indo-European" languages
should be regarded a creolized languages, I have to digress a bit and invite
my reader to a little detour or excursion.
In a recent issue of the journal
MIGRATION & DIFFUSION I have reported about the thesis by Theo Vennemann,
who incidentally is a professor for Germanistic linguistics at the
Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, about the probable ethno-linguistic
realities and movements in late prehistoric Europe (4). In his view, after
the so-caIled "End of the Great Age" (in contemporary, i.e.
non-catastrophic geological doctrine), a Vasconian, i.e. Basque-related
population spreading r from south western France over almost all of Europe.
They lived relatively unsophisticated, perhaps comparable to the way of the
Berbers of Morocco. This population is designated (A), the accompanying map
Later on, from a centre designated
(B) around the Strata Gibraltar, where Vennemann sees the original homeland
centre of diffusion of all Hamito-Semitic peoples, an advanced sea-faring
civilization colonized the Atlantic coastland of Europe. This people might be
called Atlanto-Semites. Proto–Semites. Hamito-Semites, or Proto-Phoenicians,
and they obviously also been the bearers of the Atlanto-European Megalithic
as the last step did the "Indo-Europeans" arrive from the East in
Vennemann's scenario. Vennemaan analyses by methodical reasoning in a really
masterly and convincing manner Western and Central European languages like
Insular Celtic, modern English, or the vocabulary of Germanic to demonstrate
the most remarkable ethno-linguistic amalgams between Old Vasconians,
Hamito-Semitic and "Indo-European" peoples, with which we will have
to reckon in the gradual "nation building" of today's European
peoples (5). The present author is of the opinion that Vennemann's reasoning
is highly convincing.
probable solution: A twofold ethno-linguistic influence from India on ancient
He thinks, however, that in spite
of this positive judgment Vennemann's scenario could and should be amended.
To this end I have therefore tried to produce in the accompanying map (Fig.
I) an amalgamation of Vennemann's and my own tentative scenario.
(C) are designated migrations of less sophisticated, more war-like tribes
from the Indian subcontinent, speaking Sanskritrelated languages. These
tribes may have been forcibly expelled from India by the advanced
civilization there. Perhaps the legendary tradition of Parashu-Rama,
"Rama with the Battle-ax", an "avatar" or divine
incarnation (not to be confused with the Rama of the Ramayana epic, another
"avatar"), refers to such an event. He is said to have expelled
war-like races from India.
It may well be that India at these
late-prehistoric times may have been the most populated region on our planet.
So such migrations by expelled tribes may have been rather substantial
movements. And in view of the Tibetan landscape and the innumerable mountain
ranges between India and China it would be only natural if these migrations
took the routes indicated, to wit towards the West and Europe.
But I feel that we will also have
to reckon with another colonizing influence from ancient India on Europe;
designated (D) on the map, of quite another character. India has a very
ancient seafaring tradition, and a most potent one at that, and the advanced
civilizations there would probably very early have found the way around the
Cape of Good Hope, to the Americas (which expeditions from India may also
have reached via the Pacific) as well as to at least southwestern Europe.
From these considerations I
propose that we should look for linguistic traces of colonizers from India,
speaking Sanskritrelated languages, especially on the Iberian Peninsula, but
also in the other Atlantic coastlands of Europe. Beside their much more
advanced culture such seafarers and colonizers from ancient India may have
impressed by their charisma the less sophisticated Vasconians in such a way
that amalgam or creolized languages were a natural result. In which way,
however, (B) and (D), i.e. the Atlanto-Semites or Proto-Phoenicians and the
colonizers from India might have interacted, will not be easy to establish,
especially in view of the fact that a tradition also exists according to
which the Phoenicians themselves had their original homeland somewhere on the
coasts of the Indian Ocean.
(1) Prodosh Aich: LÜGEN MIT LANGEN BEINEN. Oldenburg 2003 (ISBN:
Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak & David Frawley: IN SEARCH OF THE CRADLE OF
CIVILIZATION. Wheaton (IIIinois) 1995 (ISBN: 0-8356-0720-8).
E. Morgan Kelley: THE METAPHORICAL BASIS OF LANGUAGE, Lewiston (N.Y.), 1992
Horst Friedrich: "A Linguistic Breakthrough for the Reconstruction of
Europe's Prehistory" in: MIGR.ATION & DIFFUSION, Vol. 5/No.17, 2004
also by Theo Vennemann: EUROPA VASCONICA - EUROPA SMITICA, Berlin/New York,
2003 (ISBN: 3-M-017054-X).