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History of Human Language

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Lupen The Third, Feb 17, 2010.

  1. Good evining,

    First off, I'm not really sure if my message is appropriate here or if it can be posted in this forum...so if something does not work good, please delete/move it. Second thing, forgive my English, I know I'm not very good at it.

    Well, now I can explain you my doubt :

    Today I was studying historical linguistics and then I noticed that the word "name" is very similar, from an orthographic and phonic point of view, in languages like
    - Armenian > Anun
    - Greek > ὄνομα (onoma)
    - Latin > Nomen
    - Sanskrit > Nama.

    Natural, then I thought. All these languages come from the so-called
    Indo-European (prototype-ancient language). Of course, the fact could interest a lot of other words.

    Anyway, it is strange now to think that in Japanese "name" is "namae", or that woman is "onna"...quite similar to the Italian " donna ".

    But Japanese, of course, is not linked to the Latin culture, or to the Italian language... and Japanese does not come from Indo-European.
    And what about Chinese?
    "Yes (in Chinese)" if pronounced is a little bit similiar, again, to the italian "sì".

    And Chinese has nothing to do with Indo-European too.
    Now I am Italian and I've noted down some correspondences between Japanese / Chinese and Italian, but it is possible that there are others between other languages ( For example High German and Sanskrit, Indonesian and Turkish and so on).

    Here is now the main point:

    And if before Indo-European, before Mongolic (languages) , Ugro-Finnic (languages), and before Ural-Altaic (languages) , which are nowdays considered the starting point for the formation of all other languages and considered from linguists not linked between them (example : each family language is different from the other) there was just one language spoken by humans?

    And just after this X-language maybe they were born (for reasons like hitsory, geography etc) Indo-European, Ural-Altaic languages and so on...

    What do you think? Are "onna", "namae" etc only coincidences?

    Hoping that I've not opened a stupid thread...
    Thank you all for reading,
    Best regards
  2. Maroseika Moderator

  3. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    I think it's safe to disregard the orthography :).
    Please see this thread. In the third post of that thread you'll find links to often quoted essays on the topic of chance coincidences.
    Between any two given languages, one can find a lot of "chance similarities". The keyword here "similarity", which is such a vague and elastic term that it isn't used in linguistics at all.
    Big news would be that one could come up with two languages that do not share "similar words".

    Here it's especially the pinyin transcription that could trigger the idea of similarity. When hearing both the Chinese and Italian words, the only thing they have in common is .

    Maroseika already referred to Nostratic, which is not accepted by all linguists. But, for the sake of the debate, let's not worry about that detail and accept Nostratic, date it around 10.000 BC, give and take a few centuries.
    Keeping in mind that human language is a few 10.000 years old (lets' take the easy figure of 100.000), that would mean that we roughly have material for the 10 last percent. That leaves us with 90% percent about which we know nothing at all.

    Nope, not at all.
    If you search the archives for "oldest language", "Donald Ringe", "chance coincidences", "chance similarities", you'll find alot of information hidden in other threads.


  4. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    I suppose you mean / shì whichis is rather different ; actually it means to be and there are other means to affirmatively answer a question. By the way hello is said chào in Vietnamese and is pronounced about the same way as ciao in Italianese ! A mere coincidence.
  5. Chalk Pot

    Chalk Pot Banned

    итальянский язык
    Hi - still there? If you look up into 'Origini Mediterranee' by Giacomo Devoto (Florence, 1962) you might notice that it was not only you who puzzled about Chinese or even Polynesian resemblances with Indoeuropean words (you might find the references).

    Even, without agreeing with pan-Turanianism, he quotes authors who agree that Indoeuropean might have been influenced both by the Caucasian environment and from the Altaic one, that is, part of far Eastern languages might have come into the Indoeuropean, perhaps as a specific terminology (commerce?).

    There is a curious example: by mean of the word 'person', Norwegian people is using a word which has likely Etruscan origins, and who ever knows where does this word really come from!

    Moreover, author Giovanni Semerano, who has largely been rejected, has instead shown how tightly linked are the Semite languages with the Indoeuropean, even the religious terms, unfortunately he concludes that the Indoeuropean was an Academic Plot not to admit that Indoeuropean was a Semite language. An extremist position which might not be 'scientifically' pleasant.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  6. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    Given the relatively small number of consonant and vowel sounds that humans can make, the thousands of concepts that any human language can convey, and what seems to be a universal preference to use short words for common concepts, it would be amazing indeed if such random coincidences did not happen.
  7. ancalimon Senior Member

    I think the chance that some of these similar words being similar is a coincidence is not greater than the chance that these words really are related with each other. It's like not being able to prove that God exists vs not being able to prove that it does not exist. Still, I guess it's perfectly normal from a linguistic point of view to expect a better method to show that similar words are related. But then comes the question "which languages are naturally evolved and which languages are modified extensively"
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  8. mataripis Senior Member

    You are correct. But the bias in language category made analysis more inappropriate.
  9. Chalk Pot

    Chalk Pot Banned

    итальянский язык
    I am sure the bias towards other hypothesis is due to ideological points of view, because behind the 'History of Language' there is the 'History of Migrations' and I think (for example) there is a strong prejudice against the pan-Turanianism, which instead could explain some obscure post-Glacial dynamics - unfortunately being often a political-nationalist (and someway racist) ideology, far away from pure science.

    I myself have made my own hypothesis and it came out that the oldest Eskimo-Ainuid might have reached France sailing onto the Glacial Siberian Swamps; to reply Egmont, the Theory of Chaos admits such odd phenomenons of recursivity, but we should also be less confident in what by now, is a closed game within Genetists and other not indifferent people, that's not exactly what it can be called pure science neither.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  10. ancalimon Senior Member

    I don't think it can be racist because the so called Turanians are not genetically related with each other. They are also culturally distant some of which sharing different religions. For example statistically, people in Turkey that claim to be Turkish are genetically closer to people in England than they are to Turks in Central Asia. (actually people in England are the most close to Turkish people in all of Europe). Pan-Turanianism is a joke. It's like some bed-side story to scare the kids. Such a thing in truth does not exist and I can not understand why people made a big fuss out of it in the past. The only country that might have been effected negatively from this would have been Russia which was and still is invaders on the lands of those people. Pan-Turanianism was more like a search for friends among those Turkic countries who were in a really bad condition due to policies of Russia. Even than it was not a serious problem for communist Russia because anyone, Turkic or Russian, was usually imprisoned,executed if he claimed something opposite of what Russian government dictated. (like claiming that Scythians were related with Turks)

    Still there are some claims resulting from some genetic similarities like Etruscans - Turkish people. But these claims are usually rejected outright without any further research from what I see because of lack of enough evidence to back these claims.

    I agree with you about history of languages <> history of migrations idea. The problem lies within why people started migrating in the first place. Without any reason, people do not migrate. There has to be a significant reason for the migrations. In my opinion, people were speaking very similar languages in the beginning but some of the technologically and culturally advanced elite among those people somehow thought about religion, invented it, enslaved people and forced them to speak languages different from the old language. Then they either started migrating or they were forced to leave their lands by the "other elite". So I think new languages emerged as a result of religion which I think is an invention giving the creators the ability to mass controlling people and change everything about them. Something similar happened to Ottomans and I'm sure the same story repeated itself countless times also in Europe the church literally converting people into different people.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  11. Chalk Pot

    Chalk Pot Banned

    итальянский язык
    Merhaba! I was sure I could obtain such an answer - or a less polite one... Your answer is too complex to be commented all in once, see you later on.

    My one has to be intended as a provocation, not different from an extremist idea of the Indoeuropeism (the one against which, had fought the above quoted Giovanni Semerano) now replaced by the today's version of 'the Aryan Race': the myth of 'the Caucasoid Race', corageous explorers bringing the civilization to the ignorant shepherds of Asia.

    On the other side, I do not really think every Turkish being a fanatic nationalist (above all, any -ism is good unless it become fanatism), neither the matter of the Turanianism can be completely considered a fairy tale of the past without nothing more to be said - studies still go on: why not?

    Unfortunately - you must agree - a certain version of the Turanianism has claimed (mainly in the past, till the 80's, but some still do it) the highest civilizations of the Mediterranean, to have been 'Türk': that is, having put a 'label' onto them: so the point is not genetical as you said (Genetics was not yet used), but cultural, to say that anything relevant in the past has to be referred to a a 'Turkish origin':

    - I could even agree a huge part of the Indoeuropean cultures to have shared a Turanian environment, to have been culturally and genetically connected to the proto-Türks (even, the same as it is said about Sumerians: some of them were clearly Mongolian) and finally, that their ancestors to have come from Mongolia indeed

    - not for this reason it would be legitimate to talk about them as 'ancient Türk' (Sumerians were Türk, Minoans were Türk, and so on)

    so unfortunately, I cannot call them 'Turanians' to express a geographic indication, because this would be soon rejected as 1) cultural, 2) ideological, and finally a 3) political idea,

    within an environment (Ancient History) where Politics is more important than Science itself (see the mighty Caucasoids) and where Genetics is the worst weapon ever.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  12. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    That doesn't make sense. Genetically, Greeks should be expected to be more closely related to Turkish people, considering Anatolia was a largely Greek-speaking region for about 1500 years and the western seaboard has had Greek settlements since the 2nd millennium B.C.

    The notion of a "Turanian" race is rooted in 19th century conceptions of race and is not a valid categorization of people in modern times. Moreover, "Turanian" is equally incorrect linguistically, since the term encompassed many different and unrelated languages and cultures.
  13. Chalk Pot

    Chalk Pot Banned

    итальянский язык
    I myself have read about comparisons between an Altaic-Mongolian cultural environment and ancient Latin representations (Latin culture was strongly influenced by the Etruscan one till the last king of Rome), especially the fundamental Roman myth of 'the Wolf giving milk to the Twins', which is still in Mongolia.

    About this matter, I simply can say once again that if we do not consider proto-Turkish movements at the origin of the Indo-european migrations, we would never make a step forward: 'where the Indoeuropean cultures came from' cannot be studied as a matter 'on its own', drawing a fuzzy circle and arrows, in the Balcans rather than in Ukraine: this is always so stupid!
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  14. Chalk Pot

    Chalk Pot Banned

    итальянский язык
    However, please excuse me if I took the speech in another direction; let's stay to the ancient Etymology

    Who pushed us onto the Moon? Our need to explore, I guess; surely, there are more 'pragmatic' reasons (eg to study if mankind could survive outside the Earth), but the need to explore is part of us as well as basic needs, those which cause wars: then it was also other peoples who pushed and melted with other ones, as we all know from History - old or recent - which caused suffered migrations and - because of the contact - the development of a higher level of civilization, along with the genetic melting.

    I think that Ancient History has never considered enough the Coastal Migrations along the Indian Ocean, from Africa up to Japan, the real origin of the Modern Culture and of the Modern Language ?

    Within this idea, I also agree a lot your theory of the religion which transformed a social need into a slavery, and I precisely know why and how.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  15. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Which words do you mean?
  16. Chalk Pot

    Chalk Pot Banned

    итальянский язык
    The Latin word 'persona' meant 'mask', to indicate the characters of a theatre play; that word had derived from an Etruscan word indicating the same object, but likely indicating the clay (the material used to make such masques); there is an alternative etymology (see here: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persona_(filosofia)#Etimologia)

    - so, Norwegians are actually using what we know as an Etruscan word, but the real origin of which, we don't even know.

    That's to say: where do reallly come from - and for how long they have travelled - the words that we use?

    What is, in facts, 'Indoeuropean', 'Turkid' or 'Bantu', but modern terms which can define nothing for real?​

    I love this sentence by the french Linguist mr. Michel Malherbe dans 'Les Langages de l'humanité' (a book which I suggest to any Foreign Languages addict):

    "any language has been built above the wrecks of a preceeding language".​
    Turkish and Sumerian: http://s155239215.onlinehome.us/turkic/42TurkicAndSumer/SumerLanguageContentsEn.htm
    Turkish and Etruscan: http://s155239215.onlinehome.us/turkic/34Etruscans/EtruskTextsEn.htm

    These are utmost interesting studies, and that Site is very nice;

    - but this doesn't allow to call those ancient cultures as 'Turkid' (for example: are the Senegalese a kind of French people?): that's what I call 'a kind of (cultural) racism' (= a fanatic nationalism), just creating prejudice against prejudices. ​

    The 'Capitoline she-Wolf'
    http://turistipercaso.it/roma/58473/la-lupa-di-roma-non-e-romana.html (in Italian; it is said: "a she-Wolf feeding Twins was a symbol of Mongolian kings")

    but I couldn't find any image nor further articles about (this is very suspect: I know that author is not very trustable when it deals scientific subjects).​
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  17. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    An which Norwegian word are you talking about?
  18. Chalk Pot

    Chalk Pot Banned

    итальянский язык
    'person' !
  19. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    That word exists in all European languages and is a straight forward loan from Latin. I don't understand your point. That this word in turn has an Etruscan root doesn't constitute a connection between Etruscan and Norwegian.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
  20. Chalk Pot

    Chalk Pot Banned

    итальянский язык
    Well ... it is not me the one who can help you!
  21. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Orthography (spelling) tells us often more about the etymology of a word than pronunciation, as spelling is very often historical, at least in languages with a long written history.
    For example Spanish "haber", pronounced /aver/. You can clearly see the relation to Latin "habere", which is not so clear in the pronunciation of the word.
  22. ancalimon Senior Member


    Here is the research: http://web.archive.org/web/20110605215448/http://www.ias.ac.in/jgenet/Vol83No1/39.pdf

    To tell the truth, I wasn't surprised to learn this but it's very long story why I think this way. The thing is that I don't think people of Turkey were assimilated into "Turkness" but were assimilated into other cultures before the middle ages and Turks as a culture existed in Anatolia before. It's just that this culture was not identical to the culture of people that are considered Turks today, but an amalgam of the culture of previous Turks (the outcast Ogurs ~ OQ people most probably) and the migrating Proto-Indo-Europeans.

    Here are two things you can read (one of them is Turkish) regarding this:
    http://www.genelturktarihi.net/ilk-turkluk-ve-ilk-indo-germenlik (first Turkness and Indo-Germanness)
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  23. olaszinho Senior Member

    Central Italian

    I am sorry, but Spanish“haber” is not pronounced “aver” but “aβer”. The V sound no longer exists in modern Spanish.
  24. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    I know it, but I didn't want to complicate the matter, the point was the difference between spelling and pronunciation, not the exact phonetical value.
  25. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Before what?
  26. ancalimon Senior Member

    Before the known historical records about Turks or more precisely "Turkic language" being seen~heard in Turkey.
  27. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    In their conclusions, the authors of this paper don't seem to share your views:
    The bellshaped distribution of the pairwise difference in the whole population (figure 3f) point to the massive movement of people (the Oghuz) from central Asia in the 11th century A.D., and the other migration waves from Middle East through Turkey to Europe. (p.45)
  28. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Have you got any serious sources to base it on?
  29. ancalimon Senior Member

    Yes (some of which I shared here), but not all the people accept them as valid.
  30. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    I can't judge the Turkish article you cited as I can't read that language. As to the other two: As I wrote above, one of them doesn't agree with you. In the other (http://ebooks.preslib.az/pdfbooks/en...garasharli.pdf) I found on p.51 the following:
    Onomasticon seems to reveal the Etruscans’ presence in the North: Tysk and Tyskland, Swedish and Danish terms to denote «German» and «Germany» [183, p.619, 705], correspond to the word Tusk, denoting «Etruscan», which is still observed on the map of Italy. The province where the Etruscans were settled is nowadays called Tuscany.
    It is quite perplexing that you call a source that contains such outrageous nonsense "serious".
  31. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    I don't know what to make of the paper's findings that Turkish people are most similar to the British (which itself is a vague term consisting of four sub-nationalities) and also more similar to Central Asians than to Europeans. It's counterintuitive. I'm sure there's a logical explanation; for example, perhaps there was a lack of a proper control group. It's more likely that Turkish people are most similar to people in the Balkans and the Middle East.
  32. ancalimon Senior Member

    When we take the Indo-European Kurgan hypothesis to consideration, Indo-European people going all the way back to primordial Turkic religion makes me think that there is a strong link between Turkic people and Indo-European people. Also what makes those sentences outrageous nonsense in your opinion? They are just his opinions and I find it "possible" since he tries to support his ideas by showing us that some Etruscan sentences are Turkic sentences detailing what is happening in those pictures. He also tries to support his ideas using other things. I also remember that there were many German officers among the Huns which makes me think that there was a strong relationship between Germans and Turks before the Huns invaded Europe.

    The late coming Oghuz probably were kin to the earlier Oqxx and xxxchack people and 1071 Manzikert was only the mass coming of "Muslim" Turks to Anatolia. It's highly possible that the mounted part of East Roman army consisted mainly of those Turks and they probably choose not to fight their Oghuz kin. The war must have been won by Turks only with the help of Turks in Eastern Roman army and Turkic Kurds (Kurds consisted of many different ethnics since they are polyglot both linguistically and ethnically) who were called "sons of my uncles" by Alparslan.

    Also, about Eastern Slavs, the Korchak culture is most probably related to the Turkic xxxchak ethnonym. (chak probably is related to çağa meaning children, child, descendants... For example Kipchack < Kofçak < Children of the cove ~ tree cove... the name Kipchack was given by the mythological Oghuz Khagan after the person who was given birth inside the tree cove invented sailing allowing the horde to sail over a sea).
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  33. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    It simply is because the history of this word is well know (I said known, not speculated) and it suffices to look it up in any dictionary. I can't take sources seriously that obviously doesn't give a damn about facts, if they can replace it with nice (=i.e. fitting their weird ideology) speculation.

    I don't. I find it terribly difficult to take it seriously, when a Turk claims, Turkic is the root of all civilisation, An Arab says, Arabic is the root of all civilisation, A German says, Germanic is the root of all civilisation ....;)
  34. ancalimon Senior Member

    There is no one saying that Turkic is the root of all civilization except some Hungarian (who I don't remember at the moment) who came up with the Turkish Sun Language Theory which during those times was no more outrageous than the Indo-European Civilizations theory. Karaşarlı only talks about Turks existing as a people among many of the other historic European people. Linking Turks with Etruscans or Trojans is not something new.

    Also I don't think history is well known. Most of the things are speculated based on theories linking Western people with Eastern people. I'm not saying that Western people are not linked with Eastern people since we can find both European looking and Asian looking mummies from the same kurgans. I'm just saying that "the mainstream" is more biased towards Eurocentric leaving the Turkic equation out even when talking about Indo-Europeans living in the Turkic homelands of Urals saying the Turks must have appeared there from some other place.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  35. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Sure, western scholars discuss speculative etymologies as well. But "Tysk" simply isn't one of them. The word is too well understood to leave any space for outlandish fantasies. And that this is so is something you can find out in 10 minutes. The fact that he still can't resist the temptation of publishing this nonsense doesn't shed positive light on the scientific integrity of the authors and means that the paper probably wasn't properly peer reviewed.
  36. ancalimon Senior Member

    See after page 480. The German part is there.

    The thing here is that he IS talking about a speculative subject altogether. There aren't many people linking Etruscans and Trojans with Turks nowadays. Since he is an Azerbaijani and they pronounce Turk a bit like Tysk, he must have thought about a possible connection and used it to support his ideas about Etruscan sentences being Turkic sentences. (actually they are not his ideas at all. They are just there for anyone speaking Turkic to read)
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  37. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    That's exactly what I said. Re replaced serious research with with nothing but guesswork based on superficial similarity of modern words. This cannot be taken seriously. This approch can be used as an exploratory tool to get started where you don't have and hard facts. But where they exist and are easily accessible there is no excuse for ignoring them.
  38. francisgranada Senior Member

    An example:


    This Etruscan iscription is considered Old Turkic by Chingiz Garasharly. Mario Alinei, instead, identifies it as Old Hungarian. I couldn’t find the translation of the whole sentence based on Turkic, but Alinei’s traslation based on Hungarian is as follows:
    “This (i.e. figure) shows how Hercules, Iuno’s son, fed on milk”

    I've made a bit of "hard linguistical job" (cca 20 minutes), and I’ve come to the conclusion that this text is written eighter in Old Italian Romance (probably Tuscan) or in an Old Eastern-Slovakian dialect :):

    Translation: “Behold your mermaid is (the) one who, Hercules, joins the clan and betrays (it) …”

    Translation: “Oh, your son the youngster Hercules, he but worships, trembles …”

    P.S. My intention is not to make fun or “ridiculize” Mr Grasharly or Mr Alinei or whoever. I only wanted to illustrate, how easy it is to “make cognate” two different languages (especially if one of them is of unknown origin).
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  39. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    We really have some nice theories here. But their weak point is that they don't bring us further back than a few thousand years. That is not much considering the fact that humans probably had some kind of language at least 50.000 years ago (probably more like 100.000 years) - and theories covering only a couple of thousand years do not explain words in some language from a pacific island has cognates in Gaelic or something like that.
    I think this is where imaginative and mainly PRACTICAL thinking, combined with some studies from other sciences come in handy.
    "What on Earth is he talking about?" some of you probably think. Let us take it step by step.

    The one word that is called something similar in the largest number of languages, is "milk". At least that is what some linguist from Moscow claims ...

    "Milk" is a very basic word. It is inimaginable that there could be a language that has no word for "milk". This word is just as necessary in a language like a lot of other, usually short words.

    Like Egmont said, there is a high probability that..
    @Given the relatively small number of consonant and vowel sounds that humans can make, the thousands of concepts that any human language can convey, and what seems to be a universal preference to use short words for common concepts, it would be amazing indeed if such random coincidences did not happen.

    That, of course IS true. No doubt about that.
    But there is more to it than that. Imagine yourself as cavemen. You are intelligent enough and has all the attributes needed for being able to speak. But you still have to come up with a language. Very important words are words for edible plants, animals, tools, weather and shelter. Now, you are only just beginning to create language, so there is no real reason to create multisyllable words. A lot of things can be covered with one- or two-syllable words.

    And some words seem to invent themselves. Some are related to sounds made by animals. People do not have to have direct contact with each other to come up with a similar word for "wolf".

    So DID humans have a single language at the time where they began expanding and populating this whole planet? I would say, maybe, maybe not. I would say, they probably did not. I don't think that there is any evidence that all humans/humanoids that began developing language lived in close contact with each other. Still, I would say, they probably developed languages that were very similar - Their whole situation and their mindset would be so wimilar.

    But there is one more thing to it - this is where we move to the controversial part ...
    The British biologist, Rupert Sheldrake, has discovered a number of examples wher animals, on different parts of the earth, seem to learn things faster, or adapt to new situations faster, once animals of the same species has already learned the same things. Like when the British began using a new kind of milk bottles with thin metal lids. After a while blackbirds figured out a way to pick a hole throug it and drink the cream from the milk. After a while, this happened all over the country.
    The Americans started making similar bottles. American blackbirds did the same as their colleagues in Europe. Only, they learned it a lot faster. There are several other similar examples with other animals and different situations. Sheldrake explains this with something he calls "morphogenetic fields" - something that exists between all livinge beings, and especially those of the same speicies or living beings that have interacted with each other in some way.

    So taking this into consideration, why shuldn't cavemen in different parts of the world not come up with very similar words for the same things?

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