IE, Genetic Data, Languages of Anatolia

Glen Gordon glengordon01 at
Fri Feb 26 09:47:00 UTC 1999

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal:
>> I tend think of North Caucasian (NEC/NWC) as the
>> primary candidate for the original language of the steppe lands.
>> The Northern Caucasus is a "residual zone", in Johanna Nichols'
>> terminology.  It contains the linguistic residue of the peoples
>> that were once dominant in the neighbouring "spread zone" (the
>> steppe).

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze:
>Do you have any LINGUISTIC proof or at least some indications that
>would justify such an assumption? According to my knowledge neither
>West nor East Caucasian languages had ever been spoken in "the

What I would like to know is whether such an assertion about the
location of Pre-NWC or Pre-NEC can be made as forcefully because that is
what we would be dealing with, not the later NWC and NEC, non?

>By the way: Wouldn't you assume that "Proto-North(!)-Cauacsian"
>speakers living in the steppe had developed an autochthonous term for
>the "horse" (which is not the case! The horse-word is a loan word in
>all EC (though, sometimes the source language remains opaque)?

I personally wouldn't be concerned with NEC in the Steppe. It's NWC (or
Pre-NWC) that I wonder about, myself, in which case, of course there
isn't an autochthonous term in NEC. Is there one in NWC though?

This is where I would like to offer another explanation. And first off,
let's put "North Caucasian" aside. Let's say that NEC and NWC are
seperated by 10,000 years at least (which is not hard for alot of
people, specialists or non-, to swallow). Now let's paint a picture.

Allan Bomhard offered a theory on the entrance of Indo-European into the
Pontic-Caspian from the East (from the Steppes) based on Gimbutas
archaeoligical evidence at around 7500 BCE (?). I'm inclined to accept
this because of the strong links IE has with Uralic. However, in light
of Etruscan, we should then say that _Indo-Etruscan_ entered the
Pontic-Caspian region at that time.

Now, in support of this idea, he proposed some connections between IE
and NWC. Unfortunately, as he has explained in "Indo-European and the
Nostratic Hypothesis", he had not been able to get anything other than
Circassian roots (a sub-branch of NWC). What's more, some of the IE
roots compared with Circassian are also compared with other Nostratic
languages which undermines my confidance in his comparison.

However, the hypothesis itself, that we should find such NWC roots in
Indo-European (and even Indo-Etruscan), is sound if we are to accept
that IE was in the Pontic-Caspian and not in the Balkans or Anatolia as
Miguel says.

However, we could extrapolate further because, if Indo-Etruscan stumbled
from the East into NWC territory, we might pose another question: How
extensive was the NWC (or Pre-NWC) territory before the introduction of
Indo-Etruscan to the area? Well, again, if the language came from the
East, it might stand to reason that it wiped out much of the traces of
Pre-NWC that may have existed on the Steppe.

Further, what we should expect, beyond just NWC loans in Indo-Etruscan,
are loans in even earlier stages involving Pre-Indo-Etruscan (or what I
call Proto-Steppe, the precursor to IndoEtruscan, Uralic, Altaic, usw)
and Pre-NWC. If Pre-NWC had reached so far east (and north) at one time,
one might reason some more, that the original home of the Pre-NWC had
been in the steppes, and the northern regions above it, circa 9000 BCE
and that it was the intrusion of "Proto-Steppe" from the south-west
(from below the Aral Sea) into the steppe that caused the gradual
westward movement of Pre-NWC back into the Pontic-Caspian region from
which it sprang in the first place before even Pre-NWC existed. Hence,
we have two related languages, NWC and NEC, that although now share the
same location, are very much different but yet still show some vague
traces of their relationship.

This picture of linguistic movement, as far as I am aware, doesn't bump
too many elbows either. I think it also presents a clear pattern of
substrate influence in different stages of IE and other languages.
Thirdly, this idea is weaved with conservative views of the positions of
each language group (as far as I know) and yet, hopefully, would also
satisfy long-range comparativists involved in Nostratic/Dene-Caucasian
as well since the development of IE is firmly mapped far, far back and
there is little room for tweaking the locations of languages at
different periods in time.

This vision of linguistic movement is one of the many things holding me
back from accepting IE in any other location other than the
Pontic-Caspian circa 3000-3500 BCE. Linguistic connections and
similarities couldn't be explained as well with Miguel's IE. I'd like to
hear how this theory might go over with yous.

Glen Gordon
glengordon01 at

Hugs and Kisses

More information about the Indo-european mailing list