Hindi/Urdu/Sanskrit : Aryan origins of NI languages

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by tonyspeed, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    I've created this thread as a place for discussions on the origin of NI languages.

    Someone can probably give a better overview, but current thought invented by European
    scholarship is that Sanskrit and therefore all languages which are derivatives of Sanskrit
    came from Central Asia and not the Asian Subcontinent. They called the Aryan language group,
    which was eventually tied to a race called the Aryan race. From what I have seen,
    a lot of this scholarship rests upon the fact that the Vedas refer to horses which are presumed
    to not be indeginous to the subcontinent. Other facts would be welcome. We also have strong
    evidence that the language of the Zorastrian Scriptures is closely related to Sanskrit.

    On the other side of the argument, there is a group that says Aryan language did not originate
    outside of India but within India. In a way, this theory is a reaction to the false link which was
    created between race and language and possibly to national pride as well.

    My current personal position is that
    1) There were no such things as countries with borders at the time this happened. Therefore, thinking
    of Sanskrit in terms of current political boundaries is anachronistic.

    2) Linguistic evidence exists that Sanskrit is related to Avestan which to me is a strong indication
    that Sanskrit was originally native to the region of what is now Pakistan and Eastern Iran. If there
    were no borders back then it is natural that the flow of ideas would spread throughout the area
    because all areas were linked by trade and migration. In effect we can think of Hindustan as nothing
    but a set of various communities that bordered other communities in pre-Islam Persia.
    (It is also interesting to note that Panini standardised Sanskrit at a time when the offical language of the Persian Empire
    became Old Persian, as opposed to Avestan)

    3) Further evidence of the link of Sanskrit to communities bordering and spreading into the Indus Valley area
    is the fact that the "Avesta people used the name Arya" (Aryan), from which we get the name Iran, which means
    nothing other than Aryan.

    Based on those facts, it seems to me that thinking that Sankrit originated outside of India is really an anachronism.
    There was no India and ideas were fluid and moved around quite a bit. Communities were finer-grained and
    no one saw themselves as part of a larger community called Hindustan or India. The very existence of such terms
    were created by later conquerors and not the natives of the area. In my opinion, it is quite possible that Sanskrit
    itself is simply a related language that existed in the Indus Valley area.

    The NI languages probably originated from Sanskrit in a similar way to the way Spanish, French, and modern Italian
    was formed from the blending of the mixing of Latin with other local languages.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2012
  2. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    The rest of your points make sense, but I disagree with this statement. It's been well-established by scholarship that the Indus Valley language prior to Sanskrit was not of Indo-European origin. It was likely either Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, or an unknown language isolate.
  3. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I've been told that there is a substratum from Munda languages in the Rg-veda. Thank you for your comment.
  4. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    This question is not really about languages, but about nationalism and religious dogma. Nobody denies that Vedic and Sanskrit, in the form that we know them, “originated” in India. This is clear from the large number of Dravidian and Austroasiatic (Munda/Khasi) words already in the oldest Indo-Aryan texts. But at the same time Vedic and Sanskrit are Indo-European languages, like Greek and Latin and English and lots of others, and there is no reason to believe that the Indo-European family originated in India, unless you are convinced that the human race was born in India and that the ancestors of the Indians could consequently not have come to India from any other place.
  5. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Actually, until now no one has succeeded in deciphering the language of the Indus Valley texts. So the question of whether they are Indo-European, Dravidian, Austroasiatic, Burushaski or whatever else is completely up for grabs.
  6. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    fdb, many thanks for your comments, I agree to the fullest. Your signature is a very appropriate text in this discussion!
  7. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I would really need a week's holiday to do some serious reading to do justice to this thread!:)
    For a lay person like me, I would like to just concentrate on the word "ashva" for "horse".

    For the people that spoke Vedic or later Sanskrit language in a geographical area in the north of Pakistan and India, and used "ashva", one can have three scenarios.

    1) If they were always there, they must have influenced the ancient Persians who used "aspa" and the ancient Greeks and Latins who employed hippos and equus respectively. Did they go out of "India" travelling westwards? Are there any records of this any where?

    2) The Greeks/Latins/Pesians travelled eastwards and exported their word for horse to them which over time became "ashva". The Greeks were certainly in India but I believe that was quite some times after the Vedic Sanskrit period was n't it? If this is true, once again there might be a mention in some Sanskrit piece.

    3) All these people were originally one tribe and members of this tribe travelled east and west. Currently, the oldest Indo-European language is thought to be Hittite, the Hittite people living in what is now modern day Turkey. If the Sanskrit people did not come from outside, why is their language linked to Hittite? Please see the link below where section 7 talks about the horse. Also the root "mar" is discussed which in all these languages is connected with dying.


    I do believe that people from outside went into the region we call India. William Jones, a scholar of the Classics, upon studying Sanskrit, in the annual discourse (2 February, 1786) given to the Asiatic Society in Calcutta, he said the following.

    "The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanscrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family."

    I would like to hear something from the other side of the coin.
  8. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    The language hasn't been deciphered but they know from circumstantial evidence that it wasn't Sanskrit or an Indo-European language. You can refer to Mallory, Witzel, Parpola, or numerous other scholars for the details. Qureshpor's comments on the word "ashva" for horse, its significance in all Indo-European cultures, and its absence in the subcontinent prior to the 2nd millenium BC is one such reason.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2012
  9. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Unless one understands the language of the Indus Valley civilization, it is futile to go over the lacunae in our historical records. A crucial point is also that the Indus Valley civilization has not offered any proofs of armies, kings, citadels - how did they hold on for so, so long; why didn't the people invade them? How were they so strong and apparently rich without maintaining armies? (You see, not every Lucy has invaded, QP!) That is key to understanding the expansions and subsequent movements of empires, which in turn are essential to understand language flows. Did the Indus Valley civilization simply die out? Or did they move to the Ganga basin? We don't know; and as long as we don't know, any debate will soon degenerate into nationalistic sentiments fuelled by arbitrary motivations.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 1, 2012
  10. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Very well said.
  11. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    Most unbiased research, archaeological, histographic and linguistic, points to proto-Indo-Iranian speakers coming from the Asian steps; to suggest other wise reeks of misplaced nationalism.
  12. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica

    What scholarship is this? Can you point me in that direction?
  13. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    What is "unbiased" is debatable. When the English came up with their Aryan theory, I don't think you could call them unbiased. They had many possible politio-social reasons to tie the Sanskrit language with theirs. (They were after-all attempting to own the South Asian subcontinent) They also inserted a little idea into the mixture that the Aryans were "white skinned" people that immigrated to India and brought to the sub-continent religion, refined culture, and knowledge, as if it did not exist there before with the "dark-skinned" man.

    Their original ideas on Aryanism absolutely reeked of bias, and the outcome was that those same ideas were twisted by others such as Hitler - circumstantial evidence that the ideas were indeed tainted by European bias and paternal feelings of self-importance.

    Unfortunately, that little fact has been subsequently covered-up and ignored by linguists and now history accepts those ideas as stone-cold fact, with little consideration for outside viewpoints which have some validity.

    But to state that such British-led research is "unbiased" is a biased statement in and of itself. All research is biased by the researcher's viewpoints and world-view.
  14. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    Sadly I can't read French or German, but I'm rather sure if I could I would easily find academic articles that were not "British-led research," that still agree with my statement. That aside current evidence points that to the fact the "proto-Indo-Iranians" were nomadic people who live in the Asian steps; the Scythian languages of antiquity support this. At some point some of those people moved south to the Iranian plateau and become the Persians, Kurds, Pashtuns and others. Among that group where people who would move into the Indian subcontinent, "Aryans" as you keep calling them. The evidence support this because the diversity of Indo-Iranians languages with in Asia, yet in India we have only one. Both in Biology and Linguistics the area with greatest Diversity is the language’s Urheimat or homeland.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2012
  15. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2012
  16. aruniyan Senior Member

    This is not true, I think There is a bias in the study of so called Dravidian languages or purposeful marginalization of those languages so as to make Sanskrit an imposed foreign language to India. Sanskrit is not so alien to Dravidian languages, additionally in fact IE is equally much closer to Tamil like Sanskrit.
  17. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    You are perhaps not aware that ārya- is a Sanskrit word. So the “Aryan theory”, as you call it, was not invented by "the English” but by the ancient Indians or their Indo-Iranian ancestors.
  18. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Let us leave skin colour and race out of this discussion. Whatever language people of the Indus Valley civilisation spoke and wrote and whether it is connected with Sanskrit, the Dravidian languages , another family of languages, or a totally separate language, let us leave this aside out. This then leavers us with the Sanskrit speaking people, call them Aryans or whatever term you deem most fitting and the Dravidians. What is fascinating and important are similarities of hundreds if not thousands of words of human relationships, animals, gods, nouns and adjectives, verbal roots and so on between Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Old Persian and more Indo-European languages. How does the "Out of India Theory" or "The Indian Urheimat Theory" explain this? Here is an interesting article in Wikipedia. It covers in details arguments against this which is definitely worth a read. Perhaps most interesting part is what is missing from the Vedas.


    As other friends have said above, these are the main criticisms of this theory.

    "§ The linguistic centre of gravity principle states that a language family's most likely point of origin is in the area of its greatest diversity. Only one branch of Indo-European, Indo-Aryan, is found in India, whereas the Italic, Venetic, Illyrian, Germanic, Baltic,Slavic, Thracian, and Greek branches of Indo-European are all found in Central-Eastern Europe. Because it requires a greater number of long migrations, an Indian Urheimat is far less likely than one closer to the centre of Indo-European linguistic diversity. However, the existence of the Tocharian language family in Western China would shift the center of gravity eastward. Some scholars argue that the various language families in Central and Eastern Europe evolved fairly recently, which implies that there was less diversity in the western side of the Indo-European language family during the 2nd millennium BCE at a time contemporaneous with Vedic Sanskrit.

    § The Indic languages show the influence of the Dravidian and Munda language families. No other branch of Indo-European does. If the Indo-European homeland had been located in India, then the Indo-European languages should have shown some influence from Dravidian and Munda.

    § To postulate the migration of PIE* speakers out of India necessitates an earlier dating of the Rigveda than is normally accepted by Vedic scholars in order to make a deep enough period of migration to allow for the longest migrations to be completed."

    * Proto Indo-European
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2012
  19. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
  20. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    We cannot leave it out, as your last point itself contradicts your first point - we need to know who migrated where and when. It is important to know who were the Vedic people: was there any connection between them and the Indus Valley people? Till we get that answer, everything is mere speculation.
  21. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    According to geologists, the land mass that is known to us as India was part of the continent of Africa. It broke away, floated towards Asia and struck the Asia land mass causing the vast mountain ranges, the most obvious ones being the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. After a suitably long time when the conditions were biologically favourable, life must have begun in some shape or form including some creeping and crawling creatures from what was previously Asia.

    According to the latest research carried out by palaeontologists specialising in Hominids, early man left Africa and from there spread across the globe’s surface. So, unless man in India landed from space from some planet in the universe (which would probably be view of some of people), it is fair to say that man did not originate from within India but came from outside of it.

    We know that the script used by the people of Indus Valley Civilisation has hitherto evaded the best of minds and consequently remains undeciphered. We also know that we CAN read Sanskrit whichever script it has been written down the ages. Therefore, it seems fairly logical to me, that the people of Harappa and Mohenjodaro did not speak Sanskrit, and what artefacts we have of them, in the form of pottery, jewellery, figures and busts does not point to the Sanskrit speaking people. So, let us leave this red herring behind because it is nothing but a red herring to muddy the waters which are otherwise quite transparent.

    The question that now remains is whether these Sanskrit speaking people entered the landmass of India through any of the mountain passes to the west (especially the Khyber Pass) or whether they were there all the time and went out of India to influence the remainder of the Indo-European Language world. I have read some material from both sides of the debate. It really matters not to me whichever point of view ultimately wins the day. But for me the view that these people came into India from outside is much more convincing.
  22. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    The question is also whether there was any connection between the Indus Valley people and the Rig Veda people: and two different scripts do not constitute an evidence of any kind, especially considering the apparent time lapse between the disappearance of the Indus Valley civilization and the starting of the Vedic period.
  23. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    You’re suggesting that the situation is something like that in that in Greek, with Linear B in an earlier period, and then the Greek Alphabet later. Personally don't think that's likely because there would always be some remnant, with Greek Linear become Cypriot syllabary before it died out. Or in a different situation take English; for the long time after English switched to the Latin alphabet a few runic letters survived.
  24. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    I am not really suggesting anything, killerbee256; what I am saying is that we are dealing with unusual circumstances. It's a mystery how and why did the Indus Valley Civilisation simply vanish: when such a sophisticated civilisation as the Indus Valley disappeared just so kind of suddenly, it's not very wise in my opinion to frame theories, as we don't know how to decipher the civilisation's script and we also don't know how was the civilisation so strong for such a long period of time without any apparent armies (something crucial in my opinion).
    Whether there was a link to the subsequent settlers in north India, along the Ganga, or not, is something important to know, to my mind.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2012
  25. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I'm curious to know whether anyone has more information about the reasons why the Harappa and Mohenjo-daro civilisation vanished. Wasn't it because of the shifting of the Indus river?
  26. Lugubert Senior Member

    In a way, if you mean how the Romance languages descend from Vulgar Latin. There is no direct link between Sanskrit and today's NI languages. Parallel to the sacred Vedic Sanskrit, people used various Prakrit dialects. Those Vedic dialects split up and evolved, one branch going to Pali, another one to three main Apabhramsha groups, which in turn came out as the modern languages. Sanskrit more or less lived its own life and had no part in NI emergence (except for loan words). If you look at for example Sanskrit and Hindi grammar, you wouldn't believe that they have any common origin.

    Your misunderstanding, which isn't by any means unique, probably comes from the many loan words from Sanskrit to Dravidian languages. But the grammars of either Sanskrit or NI languages are immensely different, in a way that I think effective rules out a genetic relationship. Tamil noun suffixes seem to work in a different way than Sanskrit cases, infixes to make causal verbs are absent in IE, there is a tenseless negative verb form, which I don't think I've seen in any other language, and the verb closes the sentence, contrary to Sanskrit's fairly free word order. (Could this latter thing have been a Tamil influence making Hindi have final verbs?)

    From a quick glance of those two articles, I find no convincing support for the rejection of an IE relationship for the Indus valley language, or for that matter a clear rejection of any theory. I'm not a fan of circumstantial evidence, like from genetics, pot sherds or farming methods, when it comes to language distribution and relationships. You mention Parpola. He is on the Dravidian theory, but I find his starting point* extremely far-fetched. On the other hand, he has done a superb job collecting the signs from all known seals and inscriptions.

    * Parpola finds a sign vaguely resembling a fish, guesses that it has some relationship to deities, but goes for the meaning "star". Then he picks "a shared phonetic shape in Dravidian" (looks that he decided before starting that the language was Dravidian), and goes on like that.
  27. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    I guess you don't agree with mainstream scholarship then. You can find additional evidence by checking the references on the Wikipedia articles relevant to the subject. There are links to many different articles and books. You can also check Witzel's homepage at his Harvard website for other articles he has written, and search for works by other scholars such as Kuiper and Southworth. Not all scholars agree with Parpola's Dravidian theory; however, he is a respected authority on the subject and is in general agreement with other scholars on the arrival of the Aryans from outside the subcontinent after the collapse of the Indus Valley civilization. You don't have to be convinced; you're entitled to your opinion. However, there is plenty of evidence against an IE connection to the Indus valley and not much, if anything, in support.
  28. aruniyan Senior Member

    No I dont think so, there are hundreds of basic words that were similar in Tamil, Sanskrit and European languages to say they all are related. Even for the grammer and some words, it just looks like an inverse arrangement and not alien. To me it looks like two sets of languages Proto Dravidian and Proto Sanskritic both having some opposing features originated out from south India from a primitive sound base, one has moved places and changed a lot with added sounds, and the other remained within the subcontinent.
  29. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    I agree with you Lugubert! Sanskrit grammar and that of Hindi-Urdu haven't anything common enough to suggest that the latter are the linguistic progeny of the former. This point has been made before both here and the IIL forum. KhaRii Bolii (from which we got our Urdu-Hindi) is from Apabhramsha of Saurseni Prakrit. There was plenty of Sanskrit word-borrowing but grammatically they were always distinct and Sanskrit being a sacred language was never 'allowed' to evolve. Therefore none of the NI languages can lay claim to be descended from it as is evident from grammatical analyses of all these languages.
    This is an interesting question but we see the verb closing the sentence also in Persian - well, in New Persian and also I think Pahlavi (Middle Persian)- as an example of a non-Indic IE language. However, in both Ancient Persian and Avestan word order seems quite free, just like in Sanskrit.
    Being reasonably familiar with Parpola's work I feel that there is quite an element of pre-supposition and also over interpretation in order to justify the Dravidian nature of the Indus valley language. This would support the 'out of India' theory which counters the fairly well established evidence of the IE people moving into India. Excavations in Georgia also support this movement into what is present-day Iran from the Caucasus .
    Some people cite the spread of certain genetic haplotypes to support their theories. Both mitochondrial DNA markers (for maternal inheritance) and Y-chromosome markers (for paternal inheritance) have been used to show population movements but this tells us nothing about what language(s) they spoke. Only by putting the former within the context of the latter may we come to some sensible conclusions.
  30. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    A very hard question to answer! Almost everything is up for grabs as to the cause of the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC). It covered a vast area between the Indus on the West and the long ago dried up Ghaggar-Hakra / Saraswati river on the East encompassing Sind, a large part of Balochistan, East and West Punjab, Rajasthan. A thousand sites over a million square kilometers have been found. Dholavira in the southern part (Kutch, Gujarat) was a huge city with extensive water management system which probably was replicated elsewhere too. So change in the course of a single river wouldn’t have been the cause of the demise of the entire civilization. The area was just too big. However, there is some evidence that the Ghaggar-Hakra river did change its course due to a massive earthquake. Cities along this river would have been affected but not others. Perhaps the deciphering of the script may one day tell us what may have happened. But despite the civilization being advanced, with some very large, well-planned cities for the period, the one thing that I recall reading is how few written ‘records’ of their language have survived. Apart from numerous seals carrying very short lines of texts (and animal pictures) not much else seems to be around. Quite different from large libraries of the later Assyrian and the huge libraries of the Hittite civilizations. This is the problem of the IVC script. Very short texts. We not only need a Rosetta Stone equivalent for this language but also ‘depth’ by having a large enough text with sufficient unique characters. We instead have many short texts with too many repetitive ‘symbols’ in the script.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012
  31. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    How does his belief in a Dravidian identity of the Indus Valley language support the Out of India theory? He believes in a Central Asian origin for the Aryans as do most other scholars (though some, such as Ivanov and Gamkrelidze, believe in an Anatolian origin).
  32. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    I think, that most of us believe that Dravidian and IE languages must have some common pre-cursor. After all, palaeontological evidence that we (modern humans) all descend from a relatively small an homogeneous population of anatomically modern humans from Eastern Africa is rather strong. But this does not allow us to describe how all the different language families are connect. But what we can say with some confidence is that and how IE languages are inter-related and that Dravidian languages form an entirely separate group.

    Of course, any IE Urheimat theory will eventually remain to some extend speculative. But of all the theories, the out-of-India-theory is currently the least convincing one for the reasons presented in this thread.
  33. Copperknickers Senior Member

    Scotland - Scots and English
    That is rather misleading. All North Indian languages are quite patently descended from the Prakrit dialects, which are without any shadow of a doubt descendants of Vedic Sanskrit, alongside Classical Sanskrit. Do you mean to tell me that Proto-Indo-Aryan (ie, the language directly preceding Vedic Sanskrit) is not the progenitor of the Prakrits?

    Sanskrit represented the hymns of the Vedas, which were handed down by the Holy men. Due to the caste structure of Indian society, only the priests were allowed to know the real Sanskrit, which had been kept much the same since it was composed (albeit it was probably rather corrupted since it was transmitted orally). So naturally, because Sanskrit was a language of the learned elite, and was kept the same whilst the common languages evolved, it began to seem far removed: the situation is comparable to the preservation of Medieval Latin alongside the Romance languages: clearly, all of them derived from a common source, but the one derived from common speech, and the other from refined literature.

    Speak for yourself. Most linguists agree that they clearly have a common origin despite the divergence. Sanskrit retains extremely archaic Indo-European features that long ago disappeared in the Prakrits and their descendants, as you would expect it to: it is probably the oldest Indo-European language that we can actually study, excepting perhaps Hittite. Look at how much English grammar has diverged from Old English in less than 1000 years, and you'll see that vast grammatical changes are really not so strange. If the theory is to be believed, then Vedic Sanskrit represents the uncorrupted language of the Aryan invaders, and the Prakrits its descendants, greatly altered by the native Indian Munda and Dravidian languages. The situation is comparable to the influence of Latin and French on English: it went from being a Germanic language almost indistinguishable from contemporary Dutch and German, to being a creole Germano-Romance language in the space of about 250 years.

    Word order was free in Sanskrit because it was inflected to an enormous degree. The same can be said of Latin or Ancient Greek compared with their descendants. Hindi is nowhere near as inflected as Sanskrit so it has to rely on word order. Perhaps the verb final structure was connected with Dravidian languages, perhaps not.
  34. Lugubert Senior Member

    The Prakrits look like simplifications of Sanskrit, but I think you could argue that Sanskrit
    is a complication of Prakrits :p. (But I agree with your concluding paragraph that Sanskrit has a lot of semingly archaic features.) Anyway, that's why I wrote "no direct link".

    First, I'm totally aware that there are common origins. I didn't argue that there aren't but look at what I wrote.

    I maintain that to anybody who hasn't studied those languages fairly thoroughly, their grammars look very different.
  35. Copperknickers Senior Member

    Scotland - Scots and English
    I apologise: I was in fact quoting your post mainly to correct the arguments of Faysaloof, it was not directed primarily at you, and I forgot to add that into my post. My purpose is to clear up misunderstandings which seem to have arisen, so that we can establish some of the facts about Sanskrit and the Indo-Aryans. However, as Faysaloof has affirmed his agreement with your post, and you have replied, I will answer you: Sanskrit must be treated as a continuum of various forms and registers of the Indo-Aryan speech. In fact, the word 'Sanskrit' is a misnomer, because the very word, meaning 'polished' only came into existence in the mid 1st Millennium BCE, in order to differentiate it from the Prakrits. By that time, of course, it was a literary language that had long since outlived its status as an organic language: in fact we should view it along with Classical Latin as a 'refined language', since it had been preserved, corrupted, and partially reconstructed by Panini.

    To put it metaphorically, the Prakrits were a river, bearing the boat of Sanskrit, which had been battered and repaired along the way. But of course, that boat did not come from nowhere, it came from a point somewhere up the river. So, there is a big distinction between Vedic Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit: Vedic Sanskrit was a spoken language, used in a more simple form by the Indo-Aryans at the time when (or perhaps just before) the Vedas were composed, i.e. before the splitting into the Vedic dialects. Classical Sanskrit on the other hand was a dead language based on literature. Technically speaking, the Prakrits may not have descended from true Sanskrit, because Sanskrit is only known through its literature and holy rites, but it is not merely expedient, but advisable, to simplify our thoughts thus: the Prakrits are derived from Sanskrit, until someone comes up with a better name for the Indo-Aryan language whose speakers begot the Vedas.

    Technically speaking, the Romance languages are derived from Early and Vulgar Latin, Classical Latin having split off from Early Latin and run parallel with Vulgar, because it also was effectively a literary language, unrepresentative of the contemporary grammar or idiom of the spoken tongue, at the time when our records proper of it begin. But we still say that they descend directly from Latin. The only difference is the nomenclature of Sanskrit which makes things more problematic.

    So in conclusion, and in relation to the above quote, I argue that not 'Sanskrit' but rather 'the Vedas' and later texts have archaic features compared with the vernacular spoken language, because they were recorded some time after their chosen style's time of origin. The Vedas are probably perfectly representative of how the Early Indo-Aryans, circa 1100-1000 BCE, spoke, albeit of course that the grammar and syntax had all of its latent complexities wrung out to the extreme. What I am saying, is that if someone were to read this post, they would observe that 'Copperknickers English' had archaic features, and should conclude merely that in this particular context my English is formal, complex and archaic. It would be incorrect to conclude that subsequent spoken English is not directly descended from the English that I speak in normal life, because of course it is. So, 'Vedic Sanskrit' and 'spoken language of the composers of Vedic Sanskrit' are one and the same language, just in a different register, and the Prakrits are descended from a lower register and later form of that language than is preserved in Vedic and Classical Sanskrit.

    Yes they do, but by the same token it is therefore pointless to draw any conclusions from that before you DO come to study them extremely thoroughly. What you are saying is akin to looking at a chihuahua and a St Bernard and concluding, from a cursory glance, that they are different species with no single shared ancestor.

    The main issue here by the way is whether the Indus Valley Civilisation was Indo European or Dravidian, and whether the Dravidian languages are related to the Indo European ones. I am slightly unsure as to whether you agree with me that the I.V. was probably Dravidian and, that even if the Dravidian languages were related to the Indo-European ones, the arguments in this thread being put forward to advocate that are so far specious.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
  36. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    There are only two possibilities: either Sanskrit and all the IE languages originated in India, and an adequate model must be created to explain the present linguistic situation of the world, or they originated outside India, which has a well established and coherent model of spreading. Actually most of the national languages of today originated outside of the present localization of the nations speaking those languages, and nobody makes a problem of that. Has anybody heard Spaniards claiming that Latin was a Spanish invention?
  37. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    the scripts may reached far areas but the accepted languages from one region to another were not the same.Indus valley civilization is just one type of well organized tribe of race. There were several tribes of human race that travelled and became part of the existing community in diff. areas. I think the forms of languages in early Indus valley region were just part of evolved languages from more older civilizations from areas between Asia and Europe.
  38. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Well what about a third alternative: Sanskrit originated in India without any external influence , but all the other IE languages outside, and the similarities are a result of telepathy?
  39. aruniyan Senior Member

    I think this is right topic to ask this question,
    Its about the Sanskrit word Ratha(Chariot) and The English word Dray, how close are they, any relation?

    In Tamil the word for Chariot is Thaer, I have seen many such inverse words between Sanskrit and Tamil.. Now i found a similar word in English, what kind of development is this?
  40. Lugubert Senior Member

    I'm delighted that we seem to agree on most things, now that we've aired some misunderstandings between us.

    Regarding the Indus Valley language, we seem to disagree. At least, I find no proposal more probable than any other. Dr. Deo Prakash Sharma, former Associate Professor in National Museum, Delhi, has in 2000 written an optimistic, copiously illustrated book (he was Head of the Harappan Collection), Indus script on its way to decipherment. Anyway, he's more into some Sanskrit, but concludes a chapter

    Ratha seems to be connected to round, rotating; PIE ret(h)-. Dray on the other hand comes from a PIE root *dragh-, to draw, drag on the ground.

    You'll have to look for much older forms of thaer for a comparison to be useful. I'm not saying a relation is impossible, especially as at least Hindi/Urdu is quite fond of such swaps. The example that immediately pops up in my head is when a character in Kipling's Kim refers to Lakhnau (formely Lucknow) as Nucklao. Greaves' Hindi Grammar states,

    Kellogg writes,

    and continues with half a dozen examples. If such metatheses also occur in Dravidian languages, your ratha/thaer theory would be much less improbable if ratha came as a loan.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012

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