Empires of the Silk Road /2009/04/27/empires-of-the-silk-road/

Empires of the Silk Road

Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present (Hardcover)

Relevant to all these discussions of the AIT/OIT is a new book on the history of Eurasia.
While I remain open to the OIT hypothesis, it won’t work in its current form, and in fact doesn’t seem to work, at the moment.

The complexities of PIE linguistics make life difficult for the OIT claims.

Beckwith reviews some of the evidence of the PIE reconstruction debate with its very complicated analysis of the consonental stops characteristic of early PIE and still very much present for example classical Greek, Indic, and many other early Indo-European languages. You hear these stops in Hindi speakers today, without realizing it, and is what makes the characteristic lilt which you can’t put your finger on if you don’t know what it is. This appears in aspirated/unasperated stop consonants like d, dh, t, th, b, bh, etc…
Vestigial versions of these exist in English, ‘thing’ with its ‘th’ which is no longer an aspirated t sound (at least I think ‘thing’ is an example). Another example would be ‘theistic’, deriving from Greek ‘theos’, which is not a ‘th’ sibiliant as in english, but an aspirated stop ‘t with an airpuff’.
The difference between aspirated ‘t’ and ‘th aspirated’ is no longer phonemic in modern English speakers, which means they can’t distinguish aspirated t when they hear it from any other kind of t. The reason the oddity of aspiration in Hindi (and Urdu) speakers strikes a funny bone, what is it the brain wonders??? But you make such sounds all the time, you just don’t take them as phonemic.
To make a long story short the study of the evolution of these stop systems suggests that PIE split into three groups. And this corresponds to complex shifts in these stop systems.
The problem here is that Vedic sanskrit can’t easily be seen as the source of these stop consonant shifts, but would seem to be locked in one of the splitting groups.

All this means, of course, is that as of ca. 4000 BCE the Indo-Europeans we know were on their way out of Eurasia. Their ultimate origin is, of course, still unclear.

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