The UPenn IE Tree

X99Lynx at X99Lynx at
Fri Aug 13 02:52:49 UTC 1999

In a message dated 8/11/99 12:29:18 AM, kurisuto at wrote:

                                   /   \
                                  /   Anatolian
                                /  \
                               /   Tocharian
                             /  \
                            /    \
                           /     /\
                          /     /  \
                         /   Celtic Italic
                       /  \
                      /    \
                     /     /\
                    /     /  \
                   /   Greek Armenian
                 /  \
                /    \
               /      \
              /        \
             /         /\
            /         /  \
           /         /    \
          /         /      \
        Indo-   Balto-    Germanic
       Iranian  Slavic

I simply must ask some questions about what this means.

1. I assume the branching off in this 'Stammbaum' carries the inference of
being chronological in the sense of earlier or later separations.  (Rather
than for example the degree of linguistic difference between languages.)
This may go without saying, but I'm just checking.

So here at this first juncture:

                                   /   \
                                  /   Anatolian

Does this mean that PIE co-exists with Anatolian?  It would have to wouldn't

Then where along that left side diagonal does PIE cease to exist?

I've addressed this issue in exchanges with Miguel Carrasquer Vidal awhile
ago and I don't know where they ended up.  (I think I lost hold of it when I
asked whether PIE could have been a lingua franca of sorts or a Latin.)

This question of when PIE ends strikes me as an important question, for a
number of reasons.  First, reconstruction always seems to proceed as if *PIE
were a static language - but coexistence could have meant centuries of
potential change within PIE itself.  Second, it means that languages
coexisting with PIE could have been influenced by or influenced PIE after
splitting off.  And third it would mean that PIE could have been influenced
by non-PIE influences between splittings.

And logically either PIE either coexisted with some of these branch-offs. Or
they all branched off at one time and PIE evaporated.  OR PIE never
diappeared but turned directly into one or a few of these languages, which
would be direct rather than indirect descendents.

I think those are all the choices.  There are no others, but each one should
result in completely different reconstructions of *PIE.

2. You wrote: <<... Indo-Iranian, Greek, and Armenian are in a single
sub-branch of the IE family together, but Balto-Slavic and Germanic are in
this branch as well.>>

If that's the case, then what did that whole subbranch split off from?  At
the point of the split of Greek Armenian, the left line is still there.
Above are the Italo-Celtic, Tocharian, Anatolian branches.  Presumably they
are distinguishable from whatever it is that is out there that might be
called Proto-BS-Germanic-Indo-Iranian.

What does this mean for reconstruction of *PIE?  What if it was
Proto-GrAr-BSGer-IIr that was the branch off and Italo-Celtic was the true
remainder of the PIE 'trunk'?  (I don't think you can favor one or the other
branch - why should one be seen as more lineal to PIE than the other?)  In
that case, Italo-Celtic would preserve PIE best and the other branch would be
the split-off, innovating away from the core.  And misleading us as to what
PIE was like.

3. <<The team hypothesize that Germanic started out in life as a sister of
Balto-Slavic, but that the pre-Germanic speakers came into the political
orbit of the prehistoric Italo-Celtic peoples and absorbed loan words from
them at some date prior to Grimm's Law.>>

How does the team view the new reconstruction of the obstruent system
(Hopper/Gamkrelidze/etc.) that suggests that Grimm's Law actually reflects
archaism rather than innovation?

With that view, would Balto-Slavic become a sister to Germanic that came
under the influence of IIr, ditching that archaism like IIr?

4. Just hypothetically, if we were to assume that PIE was nothing but very
early Greek, how would this diagram and the findings behind it change?  Would
the tree look all that different?  Would it have Greek-Armenian at the bottom
of the main stem?  Or would it?

Does this diagram seem to put IIr in that last position (or IIr-BS-Gr) - does
that possibly reflect a sampling artifact favoring Sanskrit, Germanic and
Lithuanian/Slavic - the favored sources in many *PIE reconstructions?

Steve Long

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