Wednesday, July 16, 2008

IVC Spoke Caucasian - revisited

Maju reminded me about the language of IVC people by commenting on one of my previous posts on the same topic. Last time I wrote IVC spoke an extinct Caucasian language. The Caucasian language family is now mostly restricted to Caucasus mountains.

Before E3b clan from Africa, R1a1 clan from Central Asia, spread Afro-Asiatic and IE languages respectively to West Asia, most of the West Asia and Caucasus mountains were inhabited by Caucasian language speaking J1 hunter gatherer tribes. Please check Y-Haplogroup-J1 distribution among isolated endogamous communties that speak Caucasian languages in the region of Caucasus at Quetzalcoatl Anthropology forum.

It is possible that IVC might have spoken a language belonging to the same family. I suppose I claimed that based on the distribution of Ilishu-esque names via Google search. Iu Ilizhu was a translator from Meluhha recorded in Sumerian documents.

According to Maju, ili, iri etc.. are ancient West Asian terms of town or city. I suppose Dravidian Ur is very close. Incidentally, there are many place names in my region ending in "-ila" whose meaning is unclear at present.

8 comments:

Maju said...

I must say I do make some sense of this hypothesis. I am not sure exactly why do you think that IVC people also spoke North Caucasian languages but I am pretty much convinced anyhow that these families (NW and NE Caucasian, their tentative fusion is very controversial) did probably play a major role in Neolithic West Asia in any case and the connection of Hattic with NW Caucasian and of Hurrian with NE Caucasian, while not definitive, is tempting certainly.

Checking on these peoples in Wikipedia, I get:

1. Avars were apparently of Central Asian origin and arguably descendant from the Hurrians that had settled there. They used svastik symbols, some with four dots as often appear in Hindu iconography.

2. Chechens (and their Ingush cousins) are instead believed to have dwelt in the area "since Prehistory". I could not find relevant historical info on aks but they are probably also locals since old.

3. I am not sure what the article means by "Kubaci" but I guess it refers to Northwest Caucasian peoples like the Adyghei and Cherkess, whose countries are generally included in the wider Kuban region of Russia.

The Adyghei used to have a rigid caste system before the democratic revolutions that preceded the Russian invasion but guess this is irrelevant because caste systems were very common in Medieval Europe and their system fits best with European or West Asian ones (aristocracy, commoners, serfs and slaves) than with the Indian system.

But my question would be: why do you think that it would have been Caucasian and not any other language family (say Burusho, Dravidian or whatever now extinct) the one used by IVC?

According to Maju, ili, iri etc.. are ancient West Asian terms of town or city. I suppose Dravidian Ur is very close. Incidentally, there are many place names in my region ending in "-ila" whose meaning is unclear at present.

In fact (from memory right now), I think that "ur" or something very similar ("uru"?) was the Sumerian word for city too.

That -ila suffix could well be, IMO, a term for city/town imported from West Asia. But it doesn't necesarily mean that people using it spoke a West Asian language, the same that using the word "telephone" doesn't mean I speak Greek. Cities were once a neologism, so the first term(s) with that meaning surely spread around very easily over linguistic and cultural borders.

I even think that the latin word "urbs" (root of English "urban"), meaning city but distinct from "civitas", also meaning city (and root of this English term) and other IE words for town/city may also derive from that widepread Neolithic substrate that is basically variants of uri/iri/iru/uli/ili/ilu...

In the Basque case certainly it doesn't look a native word, as "ur" means water and "il" to die or kill - nothing that could relate to human dwelling directly.

Another suspicious Neolithic substrate term could be Basque "ahari" (ram) too similar to Greek "aries" (ram) for a non-existent historical Greek influence on Basques and for a word that must be older than Greeks themselves (as Greek-speaking people, I mean). A good linguist could certainly work something out of stuff like that, I think.

Manjunat said...

What if J1, J2a, J2b and G were originally Caucasian language speakers? Will that explain West Asian terms in Dravidian and IE languages?

By the way, any idea what are Caucasian language terms for 'town', 'city'... :-).

Dravidian Uru has initial long vowel 'u'.

But my question would be: why do you think that it would have been Caucasian and not any other language family (say Burusho, Dravidian or whatever now extinct) the one used by IVC?

Because the whole argument is built upon a name 'Iu Ilizhu'. Anyway, I rule out Dravidian because I believe they were local to central or west India. Also, you can see at least one isolated language family (Nahali) between Dravidian languages and Indus valley. Also, no other language family has been detected in South India.

Maju said...

What if J1, J2a, J2b and G were originally Caucasian language speakers? Will that explain West Asian terms in Dravidian and IE languages?

Well, they were surely in any case "West Asian" language speakers, so, yes, it would explain them anyhow.

By the way, any idea what are Caucasian language terms for 'town', 'city'... :-).

Nope. But you may want to check Starotsin and Nioklayev's etymologicla site: http://starling.rinet.ru/cgi-bin/query.cgi?root=config&morpho=0&basename=\data\cauc\caucet

I could not find any easy way to use it but maybe you do. :-/

Because the whole argument is built upon a name 'Iu Ilizhu'.

Well, doesn't seem like enought stuff to build up the "definitive theory", right?

Anyway, I rule out Dravidian because I believe they were local to central or west India. Also, you can see at least one isolated language family (Nahali) between Dravidian languages and Indus valley. Also, no other language family has been detected in South India.

Ok, I can understand that.

What hypothetical connections (if any) may Nahali have? Maybe it's the sole survivor of IVC languages.

Maju said...

Ok, found the Nahali language isolate (called Kalto in Wikipedia and Nihali by Ethnologue, as there is an Indo-Aryan Nahali too).

Found also about another language isolate in Nepal: Kusunda, that is moribund but apparently researched in the last decade upon the last fluent speakers.

Guess there could have been a handful of families like these before Indo-Aryan penetration. Burusho is anyhow the one closer geographically of all South Asian isolates to the IVC area.

Manjunat said...

You must be pleased to find some connection to Ainu ;-).

Maju said...

Ainu? What do the Ainu have to do with this? O_O

Manjunat said...

From Wikipedia:
Kalto is possibly related to another near-extinct remnant of the Indian linguistic sub-stratum, namely Kusunda, spoken in central Nepal. Further hypotheses involve possible connections to the Andamanese languages and the controversial Indo-Pacific phylum. In addition, some scholars, including Michael Witzel of Harvard, have suggested, quoting Shafer and Kuiper, a possible relationship to Ainu.

Maju said...

Ah! I didn't notice that Ainu hypothetical connection. I noticed the Andamanese one for the case of Kusunda too - but anyhow it's all very tentative, it seems.