you can login to your account or register with kal

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language in the light of DNA studies

Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski, 03 DECEMBER 2009

The national memory stored in Poland does not include arrivals of the forefathers of the Poles from some faraway lands because apparently the national identity of the Poles was formed in the basin of the Vistula River, in the great central European lowlands in the vicinity of the steppes of Ukraine and of Russia where the original Proto Indo-European language was developed and used already some 5500 years ago.

This development is described by David W. Anthony, professor of anthropology at Hartwick College in England. This author has conducted extensive archaeological and DNA fieldwork in the Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan.

The book “THE HORSE, THE WHEEL, AND LANGUAGE: How Bronze-Age Riders From the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World.” By David W. Anthony. (Illustrated. 553 pp. Princeton University Press. $35, was published in 2008). It gives good scientific arguments, which are in agreement with the old mythology of Poland and with existing linguistic evidence. Baltic Sea was sometimes called the Slavonic Sea or “Morze Słowiańskie.” The Balto-Slavs are known to have lived on the shores of the Baltic Sea as far back as nearly 4000 years ago according to genetic evidence and carefully time-dated DNA studies.

According to the linguists, some 3500 years ago, the Balto-Slavic language separated from the Arian language in which Sanscrit texts were written in India. Then 500 years later it divided itself into the Baltic and the Slavic family of languages. During the next 1500 years the Slavic family of languages was developing in parallel with other families of related languages such as Baltic, Celtic, Germanic Hellenic, Iranian, Kurdish, Latin, and Sanskrit among other families of Indo-European languages.

Thus Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, (old) Prussian, English, Welsh, French, Greek, Kurdish and Punjabi belong to the Indo-Europen family of languages. Some 1500 years ago Polish language separated from the old Slavic or the old Savonic language, and started its own development, which is still in progress.  

Turning point in spreading of the Indo-European languages came with the domestication of horses, which was first accomplished around 4,800 years ago, or at least some 2,000 years after cattle, sheep, pigs and goats had been domesticated in other parts of the world. Initially, horses were most likely used as a source of meat. Some centuries later the horses were ridden and had the markings of the bits left on their teeth. Eventually horses were used to pull carts first with solid wheels and later on wheels with spokes.

Proto-Indo-European speakers became mobile herders who spread their language through the steppes. Then they became skilled warriors and were equipped with battle chariots on wheels with spokes. They spread their language farther and farther so that now nearly three billion people use languages, which originated from the Proto-Indo-European language. Today, some 90% of the world scientific and technological knowledge, has been discovered by people speaking languages derived from the Proto Indo-European language. 

Today linguistic studies give information, for example, about the cross influence between European languages. Old Slavic word for the wind “wetru” in antiquity and “wiatr” in modern Polish, serves as a borrowed word, adapted to English as “weather” and to German as “Wetter.” For several hundred years the Polish language served eastern Slavs as a conduit to learn about the western Latin culture. The Russian dynasty, the Romanovs, used Polish as the language of the court as it was the language of diplomacy and civility between the Baltic and the Black Sea.

The antiquity of the Polish expressions is evident in the fact that the word “wall” in Polish is “ściana” meaning vertically cut dirt wall cut, below ground level, in dugout dwellings. Similarly the floor in Polish is “podłoga” or lower surface and the ceiling is “powała” or the roofing thrown over the dugout. The name of stairs in Polish indicates going down or “schody.” Since ground water could accumulate below the floors of ancient dugouts, in the crawling the space there could be a source of ground water. In Polish the verb “łazić” or “to crawl” possibly gave the origin for the word “washroom” or in Polish “łazienka.”

The structure of the Polish language is similar to classical Latin and Greek. The adaptation of the Latin alphabet to Polish sounds consisted of one definite process, rather than as is the case with the English language, which is a mixed language with simplified grammar inherited from two language groups the Germanic and the Latin. The structure of English is Germanic. However English inherited two separate adaptations of sounds to the Latin alphabet: one from the Anglo-Saxon language and the other from the French language, which was brought to England by the French speaking people from Normandy.

The French language carries with it the history of the obligation of Burgunds and Franks to learn Latin, as they were sold to slavery to work on Roman plantations in Gaul, where Roman Legions were stationed. The resulting French language today is pronounced in a way much less similar to the Latin language, than is the Spanish language. Also the Slavic diminutive and augmentative forms borrowed from Slavs by the Germans during the 1000 years of the German conquest of western Slavic lands, do not occur in the other Germanic languages.

The historic role of the horse and the wheel, in the formation of Proto-Indo-Europran languages as shown in linguistic and DNA studies, possibly explains the great cavalry tradition in the Slavic half of Europe.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

News & Views on Kurdish Language