Category Archives: Finno-Ugric Languages

A Look at the Estonian Language

Method and Conclusion. See here.

Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.

Ratings: Languages are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.

Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.

This post will look at the Estonian language in terms of how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn it.

Uralic
Finno-Ugric

One test of the difficulty of any language is how much of the grammar you must know in order to express yourself on a basic level. On this basis, Finno-Ugric languages are complicated because you need to know quite a bit more grammar to communicate on a basic level in them than in say, German.

Uralic
Finno-Ugric
Finnic
Southern

Estonian has similar difficulties as Finnish, since they are closely related. However, Estonian is more irregular than Finnish. In particular, the very regular agglutination system described in Finnish seems to have gone awry in Estonian. Estonian has 14 cases, including strange cases such as the abessive, adessive, elative and inessive. On the other hand, all of these cases can simply be analyzed as the genitive case plus a single unvarying suffix for each case. In addition, there is no gender, so the only things you have to worry about when forming cases are singular and plural.

Estonian has a strange mood form called the quotative, often translated as “reported speech.”

tema onhe/she/it is

tema olevatit’s rumored that he/she/it is or he/she/it is said to be

This mood is often used in newspaper reporting and is also used for gossip.

Estonian has an astounding 25 diphthongs. It also has three different varieties of vowel and consonant length, which is strange in the world’s languages. There are short, long vowels and extra-long vowels and consonants.

linalinen – short n
linna
the town’s – long n, written as nn
`linna
into the town – extra-long n, not written out!

There are differences in the pronunciation of the three forms above, but in rapid speech, they are hard to hear, though native speakers can make them out. Difficulties are further compounded in that extra-long sonorants (m, n, ng, l, and r) and vowels and are not written out. All in all, phonemic length can be a problem in Estonian, and foreigners never seem to get it completely down.

Estonian pronunciation is not very difficult, though the õ sound can cause problems. However, Estonian has completely lost the vowel harmony system it inherited from Finnish, resulting in words that seem very hard to pronounce.

At least in written form, Estonian is not as complex as Finnish. Estonian can be seen as an abbreviated and modernized form of Finnish. The grammar is also like a simplified version of Finnish grammar and may be much easier to learn.

Estonian is rated 4.5, very to extremely difficult.

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Filed under Applied, Finnic, Finnish, Finno-Ugric Languages, Language Families, Language Learning, Linguistics

A Look at the Skolt Sami Language

Method and Conclusion. See here.

Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.

Ratings: Languages are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.

Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.

This post will look at the Skolt Sami language in terms of how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn it.

Sami
Eastern

Skolt Sami‘s Latinization is often listed as one of the worst Latinizations around. The rest of the language is quite similar to, and as difficult as, Finnish.

Skolt Sami gets a 5 rating, extremely hard to learn.

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Comparison of Inflected Verb Forms in English, Swedish, German and Finnish

Below is an Internet joke about the Finnish language. It shows how Swedish and German are both more complicated than English and in addition, how German is more complicate than Swedish. And of course, Finnish is wildly more complex than them all. You would think that Finnish dictionaries must be Hell, but that’s not the case. Generally only the root is listed, and the inflections are not. It is the same in English dictionaries where only run is listed and runs, ran, and running – the inflections, are not.

Of course, all of the forms below are not separate words for dog. Instead they mean things that would be expressed by a phrase in English such as with a dog, to a dog, from a dog, of a dog, for a dog, in a dog, dog’s. After that, there are the same forms with possessive suffixes such as with my dog, to your dog, from his dog, of their dog, for our dog, in her dog, its dog’s. And finally there are forms that attach to the possessive case forms such as My dog?, Even with your dog?, and Even without our dog.

“English: A dog.
Swedish: What?
English: The dog.
English: Two dogs.
Swedish: Okay. We have: En hund, hunden, Två hundar, hundarna.
German: Wait, I wan’t to try it too!
English: No, go away.
Swedish: No one invited you.
German: Der Hund.
English: I said go away.
German: Ein Hund, zwei Hunde.
Swedish: Stop it!
German: Den Hund, einen Hund, dem Hund, einem Hund, des Hundes, eines Hundes, den Hunden, der Hunden.
Finnish: Sup.
English: NO.
Swedish: NO.
German: NO. Finn, you go away!!
Finnish: Koira, koiran, koiraa, koiran again, koirassa, koirasta, koiraan, koiralla, koiralta, koiralle, koirana, koiraksi, koiratta, koirineen, koirin.
German: WHAT?
Swedish: You must be kidding us!
English: This must be a joke
Finnish: Aaaand… koirasi, koirani, koiransa, koiramme, koiranne, koiraani, koiraasi, koiraansa, koiraamme, koiraanne, koirassani, koirassasi, koirassansa, koirassamme, koirassanne, koirastani, koirastasi, koirastansa, koirastamme, koirastanne, koirallani, koirallasi, koirallansa, koirallamme, koirallanne, koiranani, koiranasi, koiranansa, koiranamme, koirananne, koirakseni, koiraksesi, koiraksensa, koiraksemme, koiraksenne, koirattani, koirattasi, koirattansa, koirattamme, koirattanne, koirineni, koirinesi, koirinensa, koirinemme, koirinenne.
English: Those are words for a dog???
Finnish: Wait! I didn’t stop yet. There is still: koirakaan, koirankaan, koiraakaan, koirassakaan, koirastakaan, koiraankaan, koirallakaan, koiraltakaan, koirallekaan, koiranakaan, koiraksikaan, koirattakaan, koirineenkaan, koirinkaan, koirako, koiranko, koiraako, koirassako, koirastako, koiraanko, koirallako, koiraltako, koiralleko, koiranako, koiraksiko, koirattako, koirineenko, koirinko, koirasikaan, koiranikaan, koiransakaan, koirammekaan, koirannekaan, koiraanikaan, koiraasikaan, koiraansakaan, koiraammekaan, koiraannekaan, koirassanikaan, koirassasikaan, koirassansakaan, koirassammekaan, koirassannekaan, koirastanikaan, koirastasikaan, koirastansakaan, koirastammekaan, koirastannekaan, koirallanikaan, koirallasikaan, koirallansakaan, koirallammekaan, koirallannekaan, koirananikaan, koiranasikaan, koiranansakaan, koiranammekaan, koiranannekaan, koiraksenikaan, koiraksesikaan, koiraksensakaan, koiraksemmekaan, koiraksennekaan, koirattanikaan, koirattasikaan, koirattansakaan, koirattammekaan, koirattannekaan, koirinenikaan, koirinesikaan, koirinensakaan, koirinemmekaan, koirinennekaan, koirasiko, koiraniko, koiransako, koirammeko, koiranneko, koiraaniko, koiraasiko, koiraansako, koiraammeko, koiraanneko, koirassaniko, koirassasiko, koirassansako, koirassammeko, koirassanneko, koirastaniko, koirastasiko, koirastansako, koirastammeko, koirastanneko, koirallaniko, koirallasiko, koirallansako, koirallammeko, koirallanneko, koirananiko, koiranasiko, koiranansako, koiranammeko, koirananneko, koirakseniko, koiraksesiko, koiraksensako, koiraksemmeko, koiraksenneko, koirattaniko, koirattasiko, koirattansako, koirattammeko, koirattanneko, koirineniko, koirinesiko, koirinensako, koirinemmeko, koirinenneko, koirasikaanko, koiranikaanko, koiransakaanko, koirammekaanko, koirannekaanko, koiraanikaanko, koiraasikaanko, koiraansakaanko, koiraammekaanko, koiraannekaanko, koirassanikaanko, koirassasikaanko, koirassansakaanko, koirassammekaanko, koirassannekaanko, koirastanikaanko, koirastasikaanko, koirastansakaanko, koirastammekaanko, koirastannekaanko, koirallanikaanko, koirallasikaanko, koirallansakaanko, koirallammekaanko, koirallannekaanko, koirananikaanko, koiranasikaanko, koiranansakaanko, koiranammekaanko, koiranannekaanko, koiraksenikaanko, koiraksesikaanko, koiraksensakaanko, koiraksemmekaanko, koiraksennekaanko, koirattanikaanko, koirattasikaanko, koirattansakaanko, koirattammekaanko, koirattannekaanko, koirinenikaanko, koirinesikaanko, koirinensakaanko, koirinemmekaanko, koirinennekaanko, koirasikokaan, koiranikokaan, koiransakokaan, koirammekokaan, koirannekokaan, koiraanikokaan, koiraasikokaan, koiraansakokaan, koiraammekokaan, koiraannekokaan, koirassanikokaan, koirassasikokaan, koirassansakokaan, koirassammekokaan, koirassannekokaan, koirastanikokaan, koirastasikokaan, koirastansakokaan, koirastammekokaan, koirastannekokaan, koirallanikokaan, koirallasikokaan, koirallansakokaan, koirallammekokaan, koirallannekokaan, koirananikokaan, koiranasikokaan, koiranansakokaan, koiranammekokaan, koiranannekokaan, koiraksenikokaan, koiraksesikokaan, koiraksensakokaan, koiraksemmekokaan, koiraksennekokaan, koirattanikokaan, koirattasikokaan, koirattansakokaan, koirattammekokaan, koirattannekokaan, koirinenikokaan, koirinesikokaan, koirinensakokaan, koirinemmekokaan, koirinennekokaan.
Swedish: Breath!!
German: Whattaaa?
English: Okay, now you’re just making things up!
Finnish: And now the plural forms…..”

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Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, English language, Finnic, Finnish, Finno-Ugric Languages, German, Germanic, Humor, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Language Learning, Linguistics, Swedish

A Look at the Georgian Language

This post will look at the Georgian language in terms of how hard it would be for an English speaker to learn it. Suffice to say that Georgian is probably one of the most complicated languages in the world, and that it would be quite difficult for an English speaker to learn this language.

Method and Conclusion. See here.

Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.

Ratings: Languages are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.

Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.

Kartvelian
Karto-Zan

One problem with Georgian is the strange alphabet: ქართულია ერთ ერთი რთული ენა. It also has lots of glottal stops that are hard for many foreigners to speak; consonant clusters can be huge – up to eight consonants stuck together (CCCCCCCCVC)- and many consonant sounds are strange. In addition, there are uvulars and ejectives. Georgian is one of the hardest languages on Earth to pronounce. It regularly makes it onto craziest phonologies lists.

Its grammar is exceedingly complex. Georgian is both highly agglutinative and highly irregular, which is the worst of two worlds. Other agglutinative languages such as Turkish and Finnish at least have the benefit of being highly regular. The verbs in particular seem nearly random with no pattern to them at all. The system of argument and tense marking on the verb is exceedingly complex, with tense, aspect, mood on the verb, person and number marking for the subject, and direct and indirect objects.

Although it is an ergative language, the ergative (or active-stative case marking as it is called) oddly enough is only used in the aorist and perfect tenses where the agent in the sentence receives a different case, while the aorist also masquerades as imperative. In the present, there is standard nominative-accusative marking. A single verb can have up to 12 different parts, similar to Polish, and there are six cases and six tenses.

Georgian also features something called polypersonal agreement, a highly complex type of morphological feature that is often associated with polysynthetic languages and to a lesser extent with ergativity.

In a polypersonal language, the verb has agreement morphemes attached to it dealing with one or more of the verbs arguments (usually up to four arguments). In a non polypersonal language like English, the verb either shows no agreement or agrees with only one of its arguments, usually the subject. Whereas in a polypersonal language, the verb agrees with one or more of the subject, the direct object, the indirect object, the beneficiary of the verb, etc. The polypersonal marking may be obligatory or optional.

In Georgian, the polypersonal morphemes appear as either suffixes or prefixes, depending on the verb class and the person, number, aspect and tense of the verb. The affixes also modify each other phonologically when they are next to each other. In the Georgian system, the polypersonal affixes convey subject, direct object, indirect object, genitive, locative and causative meanings.

g-mal-av-en   = “they hide you”
g-i-mal-av-en
= “they hide it from you”

mal “to hide” is the verb, and the other four forms are polypersonal affixes.

In the case below,

xelebi ga-m-i-tsiv-d-a = “My hands got cold”.

xelebi means “hands”. The m marker indicates genitive or “my”. With intransitive verbs, Georgian often omits my before the subject and instead puts the genitive onto the verb to indicate possession.

Georgian verbs of motion focus on deixis, whether the goal of the motion is towards the speaker or the hearer. You use a particle to signify who the motion is heading towards. If it heading towards neither of you, you use no deixis marker. You specify the path taken to reach the goal through the use or prefixes called preverbs, similar to “verbal case.” These come after the deixis marker:

up                     a-
out                    ga-
in                      sha-
down into         cha-
across/through garda-
thither               mi-
away                 c’a-
or down            da-

Hence:

“up towards me” = amo-. The deixis marker is mo- and “up” is a-

On the plus side, Georgian has borrowed a great deal of Latinate foreign vocabulary, so that will help anyone coming from a Latinate or Latinate-heavy language background.

Georgian is rated 5, extremely difficult.

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Filed under Applied, Finnic, Finnish, Finno-Ugric Languages, Language Families, Language Learning, Linguistics, Oghuz, Turkic, Turkish

How To Show Two Languages Are Related

Interesting little graph here from an unpublished paper by Stefan Georg. Now according to linguistic consensus, Eskimo-Aleut and Uralic are simply not related. They have never been proven to have been related. Uralic is a group consisting of Finnic (Finnish and related tongues), Ugric (Hungarian and related languages) and Samoyedic (a variety of different languages stretching from the Urals far into Siberia. Uralo-Eskimo does not exist. It is the author’s name for a hypothetical language family intended to show the probable genetic relationship going on here.

Below is the paradigm for personal possessive suffixes in both groups. Look how well they line up. This is the sort of thing we look for when we try to see if two languages are related. For one, personal pronouns and their derivatives are rarely borrowed between languages. For another thing, entire sets such as listed below, which are called paradigms, are almost never or never borrowed. Morphology is also not borrowed much. Entire paradigm sets of suffixal morphology in personal pronouns is typically considered prima facie evidence of a genetic relationship between tongues. Here we have an entire paradigm of pronoun morphology between two supposedly unrelated language families lining up almost perfectly. The skeptical argument is that this paradigm could have been borrowed. You know what? That didn’t happen. Getting down to brass tacks, there is no way to explain charts like below other than genetically.

      Uralo-Eskimo         Samoyedic         Eskimo-Aleut
     Singular Plural    Singular Plural    Singular Plural
1sg  -m       -t-m      -mǝ      -t-mǝ     -m-(ka) -t-m-(ka)
2sg  -t       -t-t      -tǝ      -t-tǝ     -n/t    -tǝ-n/t
3sg  -sa      -i-sa     -sa      -i-sa     -sa     -i-sa
1pl  -mǝ-t    -n/t-mǝ-t -ma-t    -t/n-ma-t -mǝ-t   -mǝ-t
2pl  -tǝ-t    -t-mǝ-t   -ta-t    -t-ta-t   -tǝ-t   -tǝ-t
3pl  -sa-t    -i-sa-t   -i-to-n  -to-n     -sa-t   -i-sa-t

The problem with historical linguistics is that it has gotten away from its roots. Typically languages were determined to be related through simple observation. Later on, efforts at reconstructing the ancient proto-language with possible sound laws and regular sound correspondences can be done. This is what Sir William Jones did when he announced the discovery of the Indo-European language family at a speech to an academic society in India in the late 1700’s. No one had done any reconstruction at that time and to this day, there are many problems with the reconstruction of Proto Indo European to say nothing of lesser known large families.

What happened was the reconstruction crowd took over the field and historical linguistics became much more conservative. First you had to do reconstruction and find cognates and regular sound correspondences, and then and only then could two languages be shown to be related. This was not so much true with obviously closely related languages but surely it was the case with the larger macrofamilies. This became known as “the comparative method” and to this day, it remains supreme in our silly field of linguistics.

This is how it works.

  1. Determine that the languages are related. First via observation, you look at a group of languages and determine them to be related by finding such dead giveaways as the paradigm above.
  2. Reconstruct. Later, often much later, you reconstruct the proto-language that they descended from and try to find cognates and regular sound correspondences.

The new Comparative Method Conservatives do it like this:

  1. Reconstruct. First you reconstruct the proto-language that a number of possibly related languages descended from, hopefully with regular sound correspondences.
  2. Determine that the languages are related. Then and only then can a group of languages be said to be related.

The new way is ass-backwards, and in recent years, we have not been discovering many new language families due to the conservatism of this silly approach.

References

Georg, Stephan. 2001. Cross-Bering Comparisons. Unpublished paper. (presented at Leiden University).

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Filed under Comparitive, Eskimo-Aleut, Finnic, Finno-Ugric Languages, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Classification, Language Families, Linguistics, Ugric

Finnish Language Video

My, what an odd sounding language. Can’t understand a single word of it except for a couple of very recent obvious English borrowings. Pizza was heard over and over, and I believe special was heard too.

I am not even sure what it sounds like? Does it sound like anything. Not sure if I have ever heard a language that sounds something like that.

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What Is the Origin of the Japanese Language?

A friend of mine, Jared Taylor from American Renaissance, asks:

I have heard that Japanese is supposed to be a member of the Finno-Ugric family, but I don’t see how it could be. People tell me that Japanese grammar is close to Korean grammar, but i don’t hear of Koreans as part of the F-U family.

Do you have any idea where Japanese (and Korean) came from? The Japanese copied the Chinese characters, but their language and grammar are completely different. What gives?

The R-U family of languages. Ok, that’s pretty funny! My response:

Technically it is an isolate, and Korean is too. Actually, Japanese is not really an isolate as it is a member of a family called Japonic, which consists of Japanese and the Okinawan languages. But the Japonic family is not thought to be related to any other languages or language families.
I do not agree that Japanese (Japonic) or Korean are isolates. My opinion is that Japanese is a member of a family called “Altaic,” a postulated but unproven family consisting of:

Turkic (Turkish and related tongues)

Mongolic (Mongolian and related tongues)

Tungusic (languages of far eastern Siberia)

Japonic

Korean

The position of Ainu is quite uncertain.

Finno-Ugric is part of a larger family called Uralic consisting of Finno-Ugric, Samoyedic and some related tongues. The position of Yukagir is uncertain. Uralic itself is a somewhat controversial family, but ultimately I think it is a valid taxon. People have held for a long time that Uralic and Altaic are related, and I think there is something to it, but first of all we need to prove Altaic!

Korean consists of maybe 70% Chinese borrowings and if I am not mistaken, Japanese has quite a few Chinese borrowings also.

The Yayoi people who make up the current Japanese stock came down from Korea about 2,300 YBP, conquering, interbreeding with and replacing the Ainu people who inhabited the island. Modern Japanese are now a mixture of the Yayoi, the Ainu and to some extent Ryukuyans (Okinawans). Both the Ainu and the Ryukuyans are pretty archaic types, more or less Paleo-Asians or Archaic Northeast Asians. The Ainu are actually classed in the Australoid race, believe it or not.

Taylor then disputed that the Ainu were Australids.

The truth is that Ainu genes are Asian, but Ainu skulls look like Negrito, Papuan, Aborigine, Tamil, Senoi, Melanesian and Paleoamerindian skulls. This makes sense as prior to 9,000 YBP, Australid types were generalized across all of Asia. There is a large dig in north China. All remains older than 9,000 YBP look like Aborigines (Australoids). The modern Mongoloid race only appears at this site 9,000 YBP. As the Ainu are the ultimate Paleoasians, it would naturally follow that they have an Australid phenotype.

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A Look at the Hungarian Language

From here.

A look at Hungarian from the view of how hard it is to learn for an English speaker. Hungarian is legendary for being a hard language to learn. The British diplomatic corps did a survey of their diplomats and found that Hungarian was the hardest language that a diplomat had to learn.

It’s widely agreed that Hungarian is one of the hardest languages on Earth to learn. Even language professors agree. The British Diplomatic Corps did a study of the languages that its diplomats commonly had to learn and concluded that Hungarian was the hardest. For one thing, there are many different forms for a single word via word modification. This enables the speaker to make his intended meaning very precise. Looking at nouns, there are about 257 different forms per noun.

Hungarian is said to have from 24-35 different cases (there are charts available showing 31 cases), but the actual number may only be 18. Verbs change depending on whether the object is definite or indefinite. Nearly everything in Hungarian is inflected, similar to Lithuanian or Czech. Similar to Georgian and Basque, Hungarian has the polypersonal agreement, albeit to a lesser degree than those two languages. There are many irregularities in inflections, and even Hungarians have to learn how to spell all of these in school and have a hard time learning this.

The case distinctions alone can create many different words out of one base form. For the word house, we end up with 31 different words using case forms:

házbainto the house

házbanin the house

házból from [within] the house

házraonto the house

házonon the house

házróloff [from] the house

házhozto the house

házíguntil/up to the house

háználat the house

háztól [away] from the house

házzá – Translative case, where the house is the end product of a transformation, such as They turned the cave into a house.

házkéntas the house, which could be used if you acted in your capacity as a house or disguised yourself as one. He dressed up as a house for Halloween.

házértfor the house, specifically things done on its behalf or done to get the house. They spent a lot of time fixing things up (for the house).

házul – Essive-modal case. Something like “house-ly” or in the way/manner of a house. The tent served as a house (in a house-ly fashion).

And we do have some basic cases:

ház – Nominative. The house is down the street.

házat – Accusative. The ball hit the house.

háznak – Dative. The man gave the house to Mary.

házzal – Similar to instrumental, but more similar to English with. Refers to both instruments and companions.

The genitive takes 12 different declensions, depending on person and number:

házammy house

házaimmy houses

házadyour house

házaidyour houses

házahis/her/its house

házai his/her/its houses

házunk our house

házainkour houses

házatok your house

házaitok your house

házuk their house

házaik their houses

egyházchurch, as in the Catholic Church. (Literally one-house)

In addition, the genitive suffixes to the possession, which is not how the genitive works in IE.

emberman/person

házhouse

a(z)the

az ember házathe man’s house (Lit. the man house-his)

a házammy house (Lit. the house-my)

a házad

your house (Lit. the house-your)

There are also very long words such as this:

megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért…

for your (you all possessive) repeated pretensions at being impossible to desecrate

Being an agglutinative language, that word is made up of many small parts of words, or morphemes. That word means something like

The preposition is stuck onto the word in this language, and this will seem strange to speakers of languages with free prepositions.

Hungarian is full of synonyms, similar to English.

For instance, there are 78 different words that mean to move: halad, jár, megy, dülöngél, lépdel, botorkál, kódorog, sétál , andalog, rohan, csörtet, üget, lohol, fut, átvág, vágtat, tipeg, libeg, biceg, poroszkál, vágtázik, somfordál , bóklászik, szedi a lábát, kitér, elszökken, betér , botladozik, őgyeleg, slattyog, bandukol, lófrál, szalad, vánszorog, kószál, kullog, baktat, koslat, kaptat, császkál, totyog, suhan, robog, rohan, kocog, cselleng, csatangol, beslisszol, elinal, elillan, bitangol, lopakodik, sompolyog, lapul, elkotródik, settenkedik, sündörög, eltérül, elódalog, kóborol, lézeng, ődöng, csavarog, lődörög, elvándorol , tekereg, kóvályog, ténfereg, özönlik, tódul, vonul, hömpölyög, ömlik, surran, oson, lépeget, mozog and mozgolódik .

Only about five of those terms are archaic and seldom used, the rest are in current use. However, to be a fair, a Hungarian native speaker might only recognize half of those words. Another argument is that many of those words have subtly different meanings such as crawl, sulk, flow, rush, job, etc.

In addition, while most languages have names for countries that are pretty easy to figure out, in Hungarian even languages of nations are hard because they have changed the names so much. Italy becomes Olaszország, Germany becomes Németország, etc.

As in Russian and Serbo-Croatian, word order is relatively free in Hungarian. It is not completely free as some say but rather is it governed by a set of rules. The problem is that as you reorder the word order in a sentence, you say the same thing but the meaning changes slightly in terms of nuance. Further, there are quite a few dialects in Hungarian. Native speakers can pretty much understand them, but foreigners often have a lot of problems. Accent is very difficult in Hungarian due to the bewildering number of rules used to determine accent. In addition, there are exceptions to all of these rules. Nevertheless, Hungarian is probably more regular than Polish.

Hungarian spelling is also very strange for non-Hungarians, but at least the orthography is phonetic.

Hungarian phonetics is also strange. One of the problems with Hungarian phonetics is vowel harmony. Since you stick morphemes together to make a word, the vowels that you have used in the first part of the word will influence the vowels that you will use to make up the morphemes that occur later in the word. The vowel harmony gives Hungarian a singing effect” when it is spoken. The gy sound is hard for many foreigners to make.

Verbs are marked for object (indefinite, definite and person/number), subject (person and number) tense (past, present and future), mood (indicative, conditional and imperative), and aspect (frequency, potentiality, factitiveness, and reflexiveness.

As noted in the introduction to the Finno-Ugric section, you need to know quite a bit of Hungarian grammar to be able to express yourself on a basic level. For instance, in order to say:

I like your sister.

you will need to understand the following Hungarian forms:

  1. verb conjugation and definite or indefinite forms
  2. possessive suffixes
  3. case
  4. how to combine possessive suffixes with case
  5. word order
  6. explicit pronouns
  7. articles

It’s hard to say, but Hungarian is probably harder to learn than even the hardest Slavic languages like Czech, Serbo-Croatian and Polish. At any rate, it is generally agreed that Hungarian grammar is more complicated than Slavic grammar, which is pretty impressive as Slavic grammar is quite a beast.

Hungarian is rated 5, extremely hard.

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Filed under Applied, Finno-Ugric Languages, Hungarian, Language Families, Language Learning, Linguistics, Ugric

A Look at the Finnish and Estonian Languages

From here.

A look at two Finno-Ugric languages, Finnish and Estonian, from the point of view of how hard they are for an English speaker to learn. Finnish is legendary for being one of the hardest languages on Earth to learn. Estonian is like a simplified version of Finnish. Both have highly elaborate case systems and utilize vowel harmony.

Finno-Ugric

One test of the difficulty of any language is how much of the grammar you must know in order to express yourself on a basic level. On this basis, Finno-Ugric languages are complicated because you need to know quite a bit more grammar to communicate on a basic level in them than in say, German.

Finnic
Northern

Finnish is very hard to learn, and even long-time learners often still have problems with it. You have to know exactly which grammatical forms to use where in a sentence. In addition, Finnish has 15 cases in the singular and 16 in the plural. This is hard to learn for speakers coming from a language with little or no case.

For instance,
talothe house

Cases:

talon        house's
taloasome    of the house
taloksiinto  as the house
talossain    the house
talostafrom  inside the house
talooninto   the house
talollaon    to the house
taloltafrom  beside the house
talolleto    the house
taloistafrom the houses
taloissa     in the houses

It gets much worse than that. This web page shows that the noun kauppashop can have 2,253 forms.

A simple adjective + noun type of noun phrase of two words can be conjugated in up to 100 different ways.

Adjectives and nouns belong to 20 different classes. The rules governing their case declension depend on what class the substantive is in.

As with Hungarian, words can be very long. For instance:

lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas
non-commissioned officer cadet learning to be an assistant mechanic for airplane jet engines

Like Turkish, Finnish agglutination is very regular. Each bit of information has its own morpheme and has an exact place in the word.

Like Turkish, Finnish has vowel harmony, but the vowel harmony is very regular like that of Turkish. Unlike Turkish or Hungarian, consonant gradation forms a major part of Finnish morphology. In order to form a sentence in Finnish, you will need to learn about verb types, cases and consonant gradation, and it can take a while to get your mind around those things.

Finnish, oddly enough, always puts the stress on the first syllable. Finnish vowels will be hard to pronounce for most foreigners.

However, Finnish has the advantage of being pronounced precisely as it is written. This is also part of the problem though, because if you don’t say it just right, the meaning changes. So, similarly with Polish, when you mangle their language, you will only achieve incomprehension. Whereas with say English, if a foreigner mangles the language, you can often winnow some sense out of it.

However, despite that fact that written Finnish can be easily pronounced, when learning Finnish, as in Korean, it is as if you must learn two different languages – the written language and the spoken language. A better way to put it is that there is “one language for writing and another for speaking.” You use different forms whether conversing or putting something on paper.

Some pronunciation is difficult. It can be hard to tell the difference between the a and ä sounds. The the contrast between short and long vowels and consonants is particularly troublesome. Check out these minimal pairs:

sydämellä
sydämmellä

jollekin
jollekkin

One easy aspect of Finnish is the way you can build many forms from a base root:

kirj-

kirjabook
kirje
letter
kirjoittaa
to write
kirjailija
writer

A problem for the English speaker coming to Finnish would be the vocabulary, which is alien to the speaker of an IE language. Finnish language learners often find themselves looking up over half the words they encounter. Obviously, this slows down reading quite a bit!

Finnish verbs are very regular. The irregular verbs can almost be counted on one hand:

juosta
käydä
olla
nähdä
tehdä

and a few others. In fact, on the plus side, Finnish in general is very regular.

In the grammar, the partitive case and potential tense can be difficult. Here is an example of how Finnish verb tenses combine with various cases to form words:

I A-Infinitive
Base form mennä

II E-Infinitive
Active inessive    mennessä
Active instructive mennen
Passive inessive   mentäessä

III MA-Infinitive
Inessive            menemässä
Elative             menemästä
Illative            menemään
Adessive            menemällä
Abessive            menemättä
Active instructive  menemän
Passive instructive mentämän

As in many Asian languages, there are no masculine or feminine pronouns, and there is no grammatical gender. The numeral system is quite simple compared to other languages. Finnish has a complete lack of consonant clusters. In addition, the phonology is fairly simple.

Finnish is rated 5, hardest of all.

Southern

Estonian has similar difficulties as Finnish, since they are closely related. However, Estonian is more irregular than Finnish. In particular, the very regular agglutination system described in Finnish seems to have gone awry in Estonian. Estonian has 14 cases, including strange cases such as the abessive, adessive, elative and inessive. On the other hand, all of these cases can simply be analyzed as the genitive case plus a single unvarying suffix for each case. In addition, there is no gender, so the only things you have to worry about when forming cases are singular and plural.

Estonian has a strange mood form called the quotative, often translated as “reported speech.”

tema onhe/she/it is

tema olevatit’s rumored that he/she/it is or he/she/it is said to be

This mood is often used in newspaper reporting and is also used for gossip.

Estonian has an astounding 25 diphthongs. It also has three different varieties of vowel length, which is strange in the world’s languages. There are short, vowels and extra-long vowels and consonants.

linalinen – short n
linna
the town’s – long n, written as nn
`linna
into the town – extra-long n, not written out!

There are differences in the pronunciation of the three forms above, but in rapid speech, they are hard to hear, though native speakers can make them out. Difficulties are further compounded in that extra-long sonorants (m, n, ng, l, and r) and vowels and are not written out. All in all, phonemic length can be a problem in Estonian, and foreigners never seem to get it completely down.

Estonian pronunciation is not very difficult, though the õ sound can cause problems.

At least in written form, Estonian is not as complex as Finnish. Estonian can be seen as an abbreviated and modernized form of Finnish. The grammar is also like a simplified version of Finnish grammar and may be much easier to learn.

Estonian is rated 4.5, extremely difficult.

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The Aryan Migration Theory: Last Word

It has been known for 150 years now that the Indo-Aryan languages came from outside of India. The evidence is overwhelming, primarily linguistic, but there is also some archeological evidence. In scholarly circles, there is no debate on the Aryan Migration Theory (AMT) and there has been little debate for 150 years. It is only among Indian nationalists and a few hacks and kooks that it is not accepted.

1. There is a substrate of a language that looks like a Munda language in the Rig Vedas. A Munda language was probably spoken in the Punjab when the Aryans migrated there. About 4% of the words in Rig Vedas are these early Munda loans. None of these Munda loans are found outside of Indic.

They would be found all through IE if the Out of India Theory (OIT) was true. The OIT holds that Aryans inhabited North India for 8,000 years, all the while the Dravidians were in South India and Munda tongues were in East India. Obviously, the Aryans came into Punjab and there mass language shift from a Munda language to Indo-Aryan (IA). The language shift is evident in the sparse Munda loans into Vedic Sanskrit.

There are also a few place names left in North India from the original Munda language of the Greater Punjab area. There are some river names left in Eastern Punjab and Haryana where the local Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) continued for some time after the arrival of the Aryans. These names would not be there if the OIT was true.

There are a large number of IA words for local plants and animals and for agriculture that have been borrowed from the Munda language of Punjab. There would be no reason for the IA people to borrow these terms if the IA people were native to Punjab. Instead, this borrowing is precisely what we would expect to see when pastoralists from Central Asia move into the tropics, encounter new plants and animals and start farming – they borrow the terms for these new living things and technologies from the locals.

This is particularly so in the case of farming, which was left to the local people – the Sudra caste. The IA people only brought a few farming related words with them from Central Asia – the remainder were borrowed from the new locals.

40% of Hindi agricultural words still derive from an unknown pre-Munda language of the Indo-Ganges Plains. Nahali, a small language in Madhya Pradesh, at successively lower levels of its vocabulary, displays high levels of borrowing from earlier tongues. 36% of vocabulary is of Kurku (Munda) origin and 9% is Dravidian. At the oldest level, 24% have no cognates in any known language and appear to have derived from the oldest language known from India.

2. There is an old set of shared loans between proto-Indo-Aryan and proto-Iranian for a number of agricultural and other cultural items that appeared in the Bactria-Margiana (BMAC) 3700-4200 YBP. The BMAC is located more or less in present day Turkmenistan. Obviously, these shared loans were picked up by the proto-Indo-Iranian people as they moved down from the steppes of Kazakhstan and Russia into the BMAC, conquering the people who lived there.

There are references in the Rig Vedas to the conquest of the BMAC peoples by the Arya. For this sequence of events to have occurred, the Indo-Aryans would have had to have moved through the BMAC during this time period and later moved into Iran and India, not the other way around. The language of the loans is not known, but it is apparently the language of the BMAC people.

So there is a BMAC or Central Asian substrate in Indo-Iranian. A possible guess for the language of the BMAC people might be a relative of the Burushaski language of northern Pakistan.

The substrate of the Rig Vedas is a Munda language. The substrate of the earlier Proto-Indo-Iranian language is the language of the BMAC. This sequence is not possible under the OIT and is only possible under the AMT.

3. There are early Indo-Aryan loans into the Caucasian language of the Mittani, who lived in northern Iraq and Syria. These loans are dated to ~3400 YBP. These loans are from an earlier form of Indo-Aryan than is used in the Vedas. Therefore, the Vedas must have been composed 3000-3500 YBP and could not have been composed any earlier.

Also, the Mittani could not possibly have come out of India as the OIT demands, since the IA loans do not show any Indic influences. Nor could the loans have come from Iran, as there are numerous IA Gods in the Mittani texts who are marginalized or do not exist in Iran. The loans must have come from somewhere else, apparently the north.

4. We have numerous references in the Vedas to battles between the Arya with their stone forts, metals, horses and chariots against the more sedentary peoples living in South Asia at the time.

5. There are pottery shards in the BMAC that resemble that shards found in the steppe culture to the north. This indicates that there is cultural resemblance between the two cultures. The suggestion is that the shards are Indo-Aryan and appear first on the steppes and then again in the BMAC with its conquest by the Aryans.

6. The chariot appears in the Urals 4000 YBP and then spreads rapidly in many directions with the spread of IE languages, to Europe, to China via the Tocharians and of course to India and Iran via the Aryans. The horse also appears in South Asia (Pakistan) 3700 YBP in conjunction with the chariots. The modern horse is not native to South Asia, so obviously it came from outside, obviously from the Aryans. The indigenous horse of South Asia, the Siwalik horse, was long since extinct.

7. There are specific Punjabi and Uttar Pradesh loans in Vedic Indic that are not found in Iranian. Therefore, Iranian could not possibly have come from Indic as the OIT demands. The languages must have split in the BMAC, one line going to Iran and another line going to India.

8. The Soma ritual originates in the high mountains of Central Asia  – the mountains of Iran, the Himalayas and the Pamirs – with the proto-Indo-Iranian peoples. The original name for the plant is a Central Asian term amsu . This term is borrowed into Indo-Iranian and eventually becomes soma, etc. Later, it moves down into Iran and India and appears in the Vedas. Therefore, the Aryans brought the Soma ritual with them from Central Asia to Iran and India.

9. There is tremendous evidence for a common Indo-Iranian language, mythology and ritual. This shared heritage is not possible with the OIT. It is only possible if there was an Indo-Iranian people, who then split into the Iranian and Indic branches.

10. The Vedic branch of IA becomes innovated and Indianized (in particular, the retroflex consonants) after its arrival in Punjab, while the Iranian branch escapes this development because it did not enter the subcontinent then. In addition, Iranian lacks any specific Indic terms. According to the OIT, the Iranian branch must be Indianized too, or else all of the Indic terms were somehow lost in Iranian.

Since it is not, both branches came from outside India, to the northwest. Iranian languages cannot possibly have come from the Punjab. An early date for Iranian to leave India is preposterous, and Old Iranian (Avestan) is too archaic to have left India after the Vedas. All this means that Iranian and Indic must have split before the Vedas and thus, not inside India. The OIT for Iranian lies in ruins.

11. Zero specifically Indic words are found in IE languages outside of India. For the OIT to be correct, many Indic terms should be found in all the other branches of IE. After all, the Gypsies left India 1000 years ago and took a large specifically Indic set of terms with them to Europe and beyond.

12. Retroflexion. According to the OIT, all branches of IE would have had to have lost their retroflexion after they left India. How likely is that? What we do find, though, is that those branches of Iranian which move east to abut the Indic languages do acquire retroflexion. Since retroflexion is in general not present outside Indic or languages abutting Indic, it must be a late development in IE specific to Indic and cannot have been part of the original IE language as required by the OIT.

Retroflexion only effects those moving into the Indic plain and the eastern Iranian lands, but everyone moving out of South Asia somehow loses it. This does not make sense.

13. Chariots. For the OIT to make sense, chariots must be exported from India 7,000 YBP. However, chariots only appear 4000 YBP in the Urals and NW Kazakhstan and from there spread from Ukraine to Mongolia. The western IE languages retain an IE root rotho for wheel because they had already moved away before the chariot had actually been developed in the Urals. Everyone to the east uses the IA form ratha. This could only be the case if the IA languages moved south from Urals.

Further, according to the OIT, chariots that appear in the Rig Vedas must show up in the text before they have even been invented. Linguistics shows that the word must have been innovated in proto IA at the Urals, for it is present in both branches of IA. This word, along with its invention, can be proved to have been innovated in the steppes and and then carried into India and vice versa could not possibly be the case.

14. Lack of tropical core vocabulary in IE. The core vocabulary of IE shows that the IE homeland was a temperate or even cold place. The plants and animals in the IE language include such cold weather animals, plants and weather words as the otter, beaver, wolf, bear, lynx, salmon, elk, red deer, hare, hedgehog, mouse, birch, willow, elm, fir, ash, oak, beech, juniper, poplar, apple, maple, alder, hazel, nut, linden, hornbeam, and cherry in addition to snow.

A few of these are found in South Asia, but most are not. There are no specific Indic plant and animal names found outside of India, even where these plants do occur outside of India. The OIT would assume retention of at least some of these terms, would it not? Instead, what we find is that a few core IE terms are modified inside India to apply to new plants and animals.

For instance, IE beaver bheber is adopted for the mongoose in South Asia, since beavers do not exist there. IE willow becomes reed, cane in India. So we see that IE temperate plant and animal terms are adopted for the newly encountered tropical living things in India. The flow is into India, not out of India.

For the OIT to be right, the IE languages would have had to have coined these terms after they left India. However, this is not what happened. Instead, the words were IE words from the core IE language itself, which, according to the OIT, was only spoken in India. But these plant and animal names could not possibly have been created in India because most don’t even exist there.

For the OIT to be correct, IE core vocabulary should indicate a tropical climate.

15. Early loans in very early IE. The earliest loans in IE are from Semitic languages of the Middle East. This is possible with an IE homeland in SW Russia or Anatolia, but not possible if the IE homeland is in India, as the OIT requires.

16. Typological features of IE. The typological features of IE are between Kartvelian in Georgia and Uralic in the Urals, as we would expect with an IE homeland in SW Russia, and unlikely with an IE homeland in India.

17. Skeletons. Where are the Indian bones? The OIT requires not a trickling out of India, but a massive migration out of the Punjab. Yet Indian bones look remarkably different from Middle Eastern and European bones. With the massive migration out of India required by the OIT, we should find Indian bones in all of the branches of IE. One would have to argue that the IE speakers who left India did not look like the rest of the Indian people.

18. Facial characteristics. DNA analyses of burials in the Kurgan area near the IE homeland 6000 YBP shows that 60% of the early IE people there had light hair and green or blue eyes. How many Indians, even North Indians, have light hair and light eyes? Almost none. Clearly, the Kurgan peoples were a European type of people. They moved down into Iran and India and mixed with the darker folks already there, creating the present day swarthy peoples of South and Central Asia.

19. Very early Proto IA loans in Finno-Ugric. The homeland of the Finno-Ugric people is somewhere in the Urals. The homeland of the Proto Indo-Aryan people is also somewhere in Urals, especially at the very southern end. The only way for these early PIA loans to get into Finno-Ugric is if the PIA homeland is in the Urals. It’s not possible with the OIT, which generally makes a separate Indo-Aryan branch impossible anyway.

20. Vedic is later than Hittite. For the OIT to be correct, Vedic must be the most ancient branch of IE of them all, very close to Proto IE itself. Yet Hittite, attested from 4000 YBP, is earlier than Vedic. In fact, it is later than Eastern IE, Proto IA, and even pre-Vedic, so Vedic must be a fairly late development in IE. In fact, Vedic is even later than the early forms present in Mittani 3400 YBP.

21. Sanskrit is the most ancient language in all of IE and looks a lot like the original IE language. This is the OIT claim. In fact, IE does not look much like Sanskrit at all. And Sanskrit is not even the oldest attested IA language. Vedic comes first, then Epic Sanskrit and then Classical Sanskrit, and Vedic itself cannot possibly be older than 3500 YBP. The IE language is dated to 6500-8000 YBP (I favor the earlier date). Epic Sanskrit appears only 2500 YBP and Classical Sanskrit comes even later.

22. Lack of IA archeological sites. This is a classic OIT argument. Actually, we do have quite a few site. From the original Proto-Indo-Iranian sites in Sintashta southeast of Urals to the BMAC in Turkmenistan to the Yaz Culture in northeast Iran to the Swat Culture in the Swat Valley of Pakistan to the Cemetery H Culture in Punjab to the Copper Hoard Culture to the south, to the Painted Grey Ware Culture to the south and east, we have a long stretch of cultures that have long been associated with the AMT by archeologists.

Cemetery H in particular shows a possible move away from IVC culture. While the pottery is of course the same, there is a new design on the pottery. On funeral urns we see a small picture of a man with a bird inside of him. This seems to indicate the Vedic belief that the souls of men could fly like birds. Cemetery H also shows a new burial style – cremation and deposit of remains in burial urns. These changes in culture are probably due to Aryan influence.

The ideal Aryan archeological site, however, has typically not yet been found. The ideal site would have the remains of horses and their furnishings, chariots, A Vedic ritual site with three fireplaces west of a river, a flimsy and primitive building pattern of bamboo huts, tools made of stone, copper and bronze, gold and silver ornaments, food consisting of barley, milk products and the meat of cows, sheep and goats. However, the pottery style would remain local, as the Aryans did not innovate pottery.

Such a site has continued to elude searchers, but one has been found in Swat. Swat is mentioned in the Vedas as Aryan territory – suvastu.

23. No Aryan bones. Another OIT argument. It’s quite common for migrations to not be represented by skeletal remains. The remains of the Huns, a large force of proven invaders who conquered Hungary have only just been found in the past 20 years. The most recent research indicates that the Aryans left language, but few genes, in India.

This is reasonable and is often the case with many migrations and invasions. The Huns left as little genetic imprint on the Hungarians as the IA people did on Indians. The Magyars also left their language in the Danube, as the IA people left their IA language in India.

24. European appearance of Indo-Iranian peoples. There is no getting around it. The speakers of Indo-Iranian (II)languages often look strikingly European. This is particularly the case of Iranians, who consider themselves White, or Europeans outside of Europe. The speakers of II languages in Afghanistan often look very European. People in northern Pakistan are some of the most European looking people in the region. Punjabis often look very European, and they look much different from the South Indians to the south.

For the OIT to be correct, this should not be the case. All across the region, all II speakers should look like South Indians, and so should the Punjabis of North India. That II speakers look so European is evidence that they are partly descended from the very European looking peoples of the Kurgan culture of southern Russia. They moved south and east into Central and South Asia, bred in with darker locals, but still retain a strong resemblance to their European roots.

25. LANDSTAT photos indicate the drying up of the Sarasvati River 3900 YBP. A stable of the OIT argument. Since the Sarasvati is mentioned as “the great river” in the Vedas, this proves that the Vedas are much older than 4000 YBP, despite the copious linguistic evidence. The problem is that LANDSTAT photos cannot indicate geographic times.

Further, the Sarasvati River situation is very tricky. The situation as represented in the Vedas is the same situation as exists today. The upper Sarasvati is a significant river, and this is where the settlements were. The lower Sarasvati had already begun to dry up, and by the time of the Vedas it emptied into an inland lake. In a few places, the lower river goes underground in the alluvial Punjabi plains and disappears.

Archeological investigation indicates that settlements along the lower river were abandoned as the river dried up around this time. As you can see, the “Sarasvati River dried up” meme is a huge red herring.

26. No memories of an Aryan migration. Another OIT line. First of all, it is quite typical of most people to have no memories or false memories of wherever they came from. The Romans said they came from Greece. The Gypsies say they came from Egypt.

However, the Vedas do contain vague references to former habitations, such as what appears to be the BMAC and there are references to journeys over mountains and mountain passes. Many place names in Afghanistan are from proto-II words from Central Asia and often lead back to ancient Central Asian enemies of the Arya referred to in the Vedas. One of these is the Parni, associated with the BMAC and later with a northern Iranian group. They had stone forts and well-built cow stables in northern Iran that look a lot like earlier BMAC structures.

The route of migration did not take place over the high passes of the Himalayas and the Pamirs. Few groups have migrated over these treacherous mountains in the last 2000 years. Instead, the migration went from the BMAC down through northern Iran to Herat in West Afghanistan to the Gomal River in near Ghazni in East Afghanistan to the Swat Valley.

There are frequent references in the Vedas to southward and eastward movements of various groups of Arya. There are no references to westward groups as would be required by the OIT. Some of these movements to the south and east are described in military terms as victorious conquests. There are also references in the late Vedas of movements of the Arya east from the Afghan/Pakistan border to Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and all the way to Bihar.

27. Archeoastronomy. OIT proponents like to push this theory. Supposedly, the positions of stars are mentioned in the Vedas. By analyzing the positions of stars in the Vedas, we can make claims about when the Vedas were written via tracking the movements of stars in ancient days.

However, archeoastronomy is a field in poor standing. All we can learn for sure from archeoastronomy is that the Vedas were written some time in the past 8,000 years. All else is up in the air.

The Indian Astrophysicist Rajesh Kochhar has clearly mentioned that the astronomical data in the Vedas is not reliable.

28. The association of Andronovo culture with Indo-Iranians is controversial. So say the OIT proponents. This is not true.

Andronovo is a culture associated with the proto Indo-Iranians that stretched, in its formative location, around northern Kazakhstan and and west into Russia to near Samara, then down to the Caspian Sea, covering most of the northwest quadrant of Kazakhstan.

Later its borders enlarged. At maximum, its northern boundary was from Samara in the Volga Basin east to Anzhero Sudzhensk northeast of Novosibersk in southern Siberia.

The eastern boundary bordered on the Afansevo Culture in eastern Kazakhstan, southern Siberia and Xinjiang. Andronovo did include part of Xinjiang in the far north where the Altai Mountains come down.

The eastern border then encompassed most of eastern Kazakhstran except the area east of Balquash Koli, moving down to the border with Kyrgyzstan in the south, encompassing most of Uzbekistan except the far south, the northern half of Turkmenistan all the way to the the southeastern shore of the Caspian Sea. The Aral Sea was the realm of the Andronovo People.

The relation of Andronovo to the Indo-Aryan people in particular, as opposed to Indo-Iranians in general, is more controversial, but has been suggested by some experts.

29. Chariots could not go over the Hindu Kush. Another OIT argument. But as noted above, the Aryans did not move down through the Hindu Kush; instead, they came east from the BMAC through northern Iran to Herat in west Afghanistan east to around Ghazni over to the Bannu region in the NWFP of Pakistan. That’s a much easier route than the Hindu Kush.

30. There was no invasion. The invasion scenario has been replaced in the past 40 years to a migration scenario. It seems more likely that instead of defeating the Dravidian people and pushing them to the south, or destroying the IVC, instead the Aryans merely profited from the collapse of the IVC that was already underway.

31. There was no genocide of the Dravidian people, all Indians look alike genetically. No one ever said there was a genocide of the Dravidians by the Aryans. Instead, the Aryans moved in, and there was intermingling and intermarriage with the Dravidians, the combined result being the culture of the Vedas.

32. The linguistic evidence. The case for the AMT and the total non-case for the OIT is made by the linguistic evidence. Everything else is secondary. The case was clinched by Hock 1999 (see references).

33. Indians descend overwhelmingly from the Paleolithic population of India. It’s true that 80% of Indian genes go all the way back to the Paleolithic era. But 80% of European genes go all the way back to the Paleolithic too. Same in Britain. Therefore, Europe and Britain has never experienced any migrations of invasions in the past 10,000 years. The Aryan genetic footprint on Indian genes, if it exists, is doubtless less than 10% of the total. It’s well known by now that the Aryans left language, but few genes, in India. Identifying genetic history with linguistic history is naive.

Keep in mind that the Aryans were probably installed a superstrate over the existing Dravidian population. The Aryans were probably no more than 10-15% of the population genetically, and the remaining 85-90% were Dravidians.

34. How could a more primitive people like the Aryans replace the language of the more civilized people, the IVC Dravidians? So ask the OIT theorists. However, let us note that Greek speakers in the Levant, Aramaic speakers in Mesopotamia, Coptic speakers in Egypt and Romans in northern Africa all got their languages replaced by the culturally inferior Bedouins of Arabia. This sort of thing happens all the time.

35. There is no solid proof an Aryan migration to India in archeological terms. This is true as far as it goes, but all it means that is that archeologists typically refuse to characterize migrations in terms of who is migrating where. While there is no archeological proof for an Aryan migration, there is also no proof for Greek, Germanic, Italic, Celtic or Armenian migrations in those branches of IE either.

36. The Rig Veda says that the Sarasvati River flows to the sea. According to OIT folks, since the river dried up 3900 YBP, if the Vedas discuss it flowing the sea, they must have been written before 4000 YBP. However, this statement is only in one sentence of the Vedas, and the word “sea” in question is actually samuda, which Sanskrit experts say can mean lots of thing, but in this case means and inland sea or lake as formed by a river emptying into a desert. Which is what the Sarasvati did. The Sarasvati never emptied into the sea at any time.

37. Horses. OIT proponents keep claiming that they have found horse bones or evidence of horses on seals or objects at some early date. None of this has been confirmed, and some cases have involved overt fraud by Indian nationalist “scholars.” The earliest confirmed horse in the region is at Pirak 3800 YBP. Many horse remains have been found after that, but none earlier.

38. The AMT was invented by Max Muller in 1848. Muller as a British spy – agent – whatever who was sent by the British to falsify the history of India so the Indians would lose their national pride. Hence, the AMT is a British conspiracy. Yes, OIT supporters actually say this. The long version is that he was hired by the British East India Company as part of a nefarious plot to denigrate Hinduism.

First of all, the theory was not invented in 1848 nor was it invented by Muller, as it substantially predates 1848 and Muller was not the first to come up with it.

There is no evidence at all that the AMT was hatched as a British conspiracy (other popular theories say that the entire linguistic community was in on this conspiracy), nor has anyone offered any reason how or why the British could profit by making up the theory of a Bronze Age culture in India. Or why the British, who supposedly hated Indians and thought they were inferior, would invent a theory that said that Indians were in part related to the great British people.

References

Hock, Hans H. 1999. Out of India? The Linguistic Evidence. In: J. Bronkhorst & M. Deshpande, Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia: Evidence, Interpretation and Ideology, 1-18. Harvard Oriental Series. Opera Minora, Vol. 3. Cambridge, MA. 

Kochhar, Rajesh. 2000. The Vedic People: Their History and Geography. New Delhi: Sangam Books. 2000.

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