Lactose Intolerance/Renfrew

X99Lynx at X99Lynx at
Thu Apr 5 17:23:48 UTC 2001

Just to give philjennings at the benefit of hearing the other side of
the Chamber:

In a message dated 4/5/2001 2:39:22 AM, JoatSimeon at writes:
<<[Renfrew] never did explain why the extant Anatolian IE languages all look

Well if the Anatolian IE languages arose as an "isolate"....

In a message dated 4/5/2001 1:05:27 AM, JoatSimeon at writes:
<< It's highly probable that pre-Indo-European Europe had a linguistic
situation much like New Guinea or pre-Columbian North America, with hundreds of
distinct language families and many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of distinct
languages covering very small areas. >>

... then Pre-PIE and Anatolian were just instances of those isolates.  Every
one of those "thousands, of distinct languages covering very small areas"
would look "intrusive" compared to every other one.  Like Minoan, Pre-Pie
would be indigenous.  But, unlike Minoan, Pre-PIE would yield a great many

Or perhaps it was just the other languages in Anatolia that were the
intruders.  Who exactly is the candidate for the aboriginal Anatolian
language - especially in western and southern Anatolia?

<<Not to mention the fact that Renfrew never seems to have grasped the concept
of degrees of interrelatedness. (Eg., the fact that Greek is much closer to
Indo-Iranian than to the Anatolian group.)>>

Those of us who think that Renfrew might basically be right would note that
in Ringe's phylogentic analysis, the Anatolian languages appear to be the
first branch off from *PIE.  This means that either the rest of *PIE (pre
German, Greek, Indo-Iranian, Celtic,...) left the Anatolians (i.e., in
Anatolia) OR the Anatolians left the rest of *PIE.  It's either one or the
other, but I've yet to hear the reason it has to be one and not the other.

As to the "degree of interrelatedness", the quantifiability of relatedness
has been discussed here before.  I am not aware of any system for achieving
quantifiable "degrees" that has found any consensus.  Ringe's IE tree, based
on a slim list of innovations, separates IE languages based on "degree" of
divergence from a reconstructed PIE.  Anatolian, by that measure, is first in
difference from all the rest of *PIE related languages.  And it is found in
Anatolia.  So,...

<<In fact, Renfrew's basic problem in the context of IE origins was that he was
trying to solve a "problem" that didn't exist,...>>

The problem that Renfrew originally addressed in L&A was the problem of the
2500BC date for the splitting-up of PIE being put forth at the time based on
out-of-date archaeology.  That date was not mainly based -- at that time --
on linguistic notions of degree of separations between languages.  It was
based on old perceptions of who was IE in the archaeological evidence.  The
problem was basically archaeological.

<<The primary "technology" involved was probably in the "software", the
cultural framework itself -- including the language -- rather than in the
stones-and-bones stuff; and hence invisible from the archaeological

And, of course, without bones-and-stones, we would Linear B or Hittite would
also be invisible.  Nor would we have any notion of early horses and wheels
and chariots and all the other indicia that paleolinguistics uses to connect
language with prehistoric peoples and places.

A little background.  Those of us who think that language primarily spreads
ideas and know-how find in that a reason for people to start speaking a new
language, like English on the internet.  Speaking a common language is the
fastest way to exchange ideas and information and technical know-how and
carry on a mutually beneficial trade between people who once did not speak
the same language.

There's more and more evidence that the vast majority of Europeans at least
are descended from pre-mesolithic populations.  (I would bet that in Anatolia
we would find something similar.)  This would mean that most IE speakers in
Europe are descended from people who were there before IE arrived.  In terms
of economics and technology, by far the number one influx of ideas came later
with the Neolithic Revolution with its origins in Anatolia and the Near East.
 The steppes headbanger theory simply does not show much either in innovation
in ideas or ways of living or in the needed geographical range, and the
archaeological dates are now indicating that it was the steppes that may have
gotten the headbanging.

On the basis of all that, Renfrew's BASIC idea would seem to be as valid as
any other.

<<One can see why archaeologists hate this; it means that their carefully
catalogued sequences of _in situ_ development may be meaningless, in terms of
things like language and ethnicity...>>

Most archaeologists don't give a darn.  They are media darlings and
fund-raising wunderkinds and with one stroke can rewrite history with
something like the Black Sea flood or L'Aux d'Meadows.  Renfrew should be
given some credit for attempting archaeological and linguistic conciliation,
even though the idea has not always been particularly welcome on either side.

<<Cultural factors are what usually gives a group an advantage, after all.>>

And adopting a language may allow a group to share an advantage - like
farming, animal husbandry or metallurgy or other technical knowledge.  And
when we see that advantage spread quickly, we might conclude that a new,
common language - like IE - made it possible.

Steve Long

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