Etruscan / Pelasgian

philjennings at philjennings at
Fri Apr 20 22:25:52 UTC 2001

JoatSimeon said:

> I think it might be productive if we were to avoid building mighty theories
> on a couple of place-names and ethnonyms.  The fact of the matter is that
> "Pelasgian" is a hypothesis, and that the pre-IE, pre-Greek linguistic
> history of the Aegean lands is unrecoverable.

> All we have are some common place-names in Greece and western Anatolia.
> They're subject to multiple interpretation, and none of the interpretations
> is falsifiable -- which is to say, they're all meaningless.

> It's irritating, but entropy does destroy information.  We can do a great
> deal with archaeology, and with comparative/historical linguistics, but
> ultimately one runs out of evidence.

> After that, it's all wheel-spinning.  We should avoid hubris and simply say
> "we don't know, and failing new evidence, we never will".

My answer:

Thank you.  I am of course half-intoxicated by the loveliness of theories
that involve wars, exiles, and sweeping folk-migrations.
I will continue to provide a foster home for these ideas, but try to be
less noisy about them.

What I hope carries over from these speculations, is that proto-Etruscan
"Lydians" might have a place in the archives of the Hittite Empire, and
not so obscure a place at that.  Otherwise it's hard to face those who
argue that if the non-IE proto-Etruscans came from Western Asia Minor,
why is there no trace of them in their original homeland?

In regards the meaning of "meaning," we hard-nosed philosophers only
regard truth claims as meaningless if one loses all concept of how they
might be verified or falsified.  It is possible to conceive of evidence
for Etruscan migration claims, "Larth was here, invasion went wrong, meet
me in Fufluna," scratched on Egyptian rocks, for example.  Or evidence
for ancient space-gods.  Evidence AGAINST ancient space-gods is a harder
matter.  Generally the argument runs, "if we can explain everything
without ancient space-gods, we have no need for them.  Leave us alone."

There are a few things about the Etruscans, and the Sardinians, that
aren't entirely explained in the absence of migration theories.

As another aside, I see that "Common Anatolian," the mother language and
early daughter of PIE, has changed since I last looked at a glossary, and
the "talk" verb is now "*tro" with the "o" being a tiny little subscripty
sort of thing.  I report this as a general service, since I know how hard
it is to keep up with old unrecorded proto-languages.

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