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Re: [ontolog-forum] (OT) German

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2008 12:24:45 -0500
Message-id: <478B9ADD.6060605@xxxxxxxx>
John F. Sowa wrote:    (01)

> The estimated date for PIE is about 4000 to 6000 BC, probably
> somewhere south-east of the Black Sea.  The oldest known version
> of PIE is Hittite, which is recorded in cuneiform from about
> 1800 BC.  It split off much earlier than the other branches
> of PIE and diverges the most from them.    (02)

I recently saw a PBS special about an archeological discovery somewhere 
along the silk road in what is now Tadzhikistan (I think).  It is a 
bronze-age PIE site, and they believe it may have been the 
birthplace/home of the people whose language came to dominate much of 
Eurasia.  But that makes it c.2000 B.C., not 4000 B.C.  Further, the 
program postulated that the eventual dominance of the the Indo-Europeans 
was based on a superior technology -- the domesticated horse.  This is 
apparently one of the oldest known sites showing clear evidence of 
domesticated horses.    (03)

And, matching John's observation, horse-drawn vehicles were brought into 
northern India and Mesopotamia around 1800 B.C. by an invading people. 
Whether the horse people that invaded Mesopotamia was the people we 
historically call the Hittites (who horse-drawn chariots were the top 
military technology of the period 1600-1100 B.C.) is a whole different 
historical can of worms.  The cuneiform record that John refers to 
doesn't date to 1800 B.C., and there are arguments about the dating, and 
about the identification of certain ancient peoples.  But the Hittite 
language was an early Indo-European language, and the Hittites did have 
the advantage of the domesticated horse.    (04)

I find it amusing to note that the PIE word for "horse", however, which 
is presumed to be "ekwos", or something the like, is not the base of the 
word for horse in any of the Celtic, Greek, Slavic or Germanic 
languages.  And while "equus" was the Latin word for horse, the Roman 
farmers used the (Etruscan?) word "caval" and that is the word that has 
survived in modern Romance languages.  By comparison, the PIE word for 
sheep ("evos" or "ovos") is identifiable in many modern languages, 
including English "ewe".    (05)

> In Europe, the non-Indo-European languages include two members
> of the Finno-Ugric group (Finnish and Hungarian)     (06)

And, I am given to understand (by my Finnish colleagues), Estonian, 
which is apparently a cross between a Baltic tongue and a Suomo-Ugric 
tongue, much as English is a cross between a Germanic tongue 
(Anglo-Saxon) and a Romance tongue (Norman French).    (07)

> and Basque, which has no known relationship to any other language.     (08)

Basque (Bizkaian/Viscayan) is assumed to be an Iberian language, named 
for the peoples who inhabited the Atlantic coast of Europe before the 
Celtic invasions of the 5th century BC.  The people the Romans called 
Picti (painted) in what is now Scotland were probably also Iberians, and 
there was an Iberian people in Cornwall until at least the 1st century. 
  I don't know that the Iberian people had any written language.    (09)

There are also  only a handful of surviving Celtic languages (and most 
of those are artificially maintained) even though the Celtic peoples 
dominated a much larger area for 500 years.   I can't find a model for 
the domination of language that explains the diverse effects of the 
Roman occupation of the Celt-Iberian region and the subsequent Germanic 
invasions in both France and England.  What they have in common is the 
displacement of the Celt-Iberian languages, but one of them ended up 
with a Romance language and the other with a Germanic language.    (010)

-Ed    (011)

P.S. Like John, I've always found this stuff to be interesting, but it 
is not at all clear what value it may have to formulating ontologies.  ;-)    (012)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (013)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
  and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (014)

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