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Renfrew, Yoffee Notes

Renfrew, Yoffee Notes - Renfrew Archaeology and Language...

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Renfrew – Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins Sir William Jones – English judge, 1786, with a penchant for linguistics, observed that Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, had really strong similarities. Theorized they shared the same origin. Also analyzed Gothic (German precursor), Celtic, and Persian (language of Avesta – ancient Iranian scriptures) - examined grammatical structure, verb conjugations, and words in vocabulary - sound shift when consonants/vowels of one language differ from those of another. Scholar Thomas Young coined “Indo-European” for these related languages How did these languages come to be? - major migrations by early populations spread the language? - Lingual exchange between different areas via trade/marriage partners? What does the archaeological record say? Ancient writings don’t tell us much… - Rigveda – religious hymns written in Vedic Sanskrit 14 th century AD but passed orally as a collection from Brahmin teacher to pupil since at least 1000BC a) Vedic not well-understood but hymn taken to relate to Punjab b) Describes defeat of Dasya by warlike Arya, talk of horses and chariots c) Disagreement over whether Arya were intrusive to north India or Pakistan However, Sir Jones’ work was overlooked for a while as archaeology and linguistics weren’t well-developed yet. By middle of 19 th century, linguistics entered a new livelier stage: - “Urspache” or term given to hypothetical proto-indo-european language assumed to be origin of Sanskrit, greek, and latin. Could be reconstructed via studying related words in the diff languages and guessing what the Urspache word was.
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