How linguists reconstruct dead languages

Early history. That of the Indo-European languages

Transcript

1 LINGUISTICS Early history That of the Indo-European languages ​​The ancestral mother of this language family does not come from Europe, but from Asia. Linguistic research results in a new hiking trail and a new family tree for the various members of the family. This blurs the previously clear division between an eastern and a western branch. BY THOMAS W. GAMKRELIDSE AND VJACHESLAV W. IVANOV Linguistics, the science of language, can go back deeper into man's past than the oldest written evidence. By comparing related languages, she first reconstructs their immediate ancestors and finally penetrates to the common ancestor of the whole family, the so-called original language. This in turn gives us information about the environment and the way of life of their speakers and thus allows conclusions to be drawn about the region and the time in which they lived. Today's linguistics emerged from studying the Indo-European language family, which has by far the largest number of languages ​​and speakers. Almost half of the world's population speaks an Indo-European language as their mother tongue; It is no coincidence that six of the ten languages ​​in which the magazine Spektrum der Wissenschaft appears, English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish belong to this extended family. In the past 200 years of reconstruction work, linguistics has gained an ever more complete, consistent and therefore more secure picture of the hypothetical Indo-European original language. She tries to uncover the ways in which the original language branched into daughter languages, which in turn later spread across the Eurasian continent, and seeks the home of the original language itself in the common starting point of these paths. The early linguists relocated this country of origin to Europe and postulated migration routes which the daughter languages ​​developed into two distinct branches, one eastern and one western. On the other hand, our own research shows that the original language originated in Eastern Anatolia more than 6000 years ago and that some daughter languages ​​first migrated to the east and later to the west in the course of language differentiation. It is noteworthy that archaeologists, whose work is based on entirely different material, have essentially come to the same conclusion. The reconstruction of dead languages ​​is comparable to the process with which molecular biologists set up genetic pedigrees: One looks for molecules of a similar function or structure in living beings of very different species and tries to infer the properties of a hypothetical common ancestral cell. Accordingly, the linguist looks for matches in grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation among the known languages ​​in order to reconstruct their immediate ancestors and, at the end of a long chain, the original language. Laws of Sound Change Comparing the pronunciation of living languages ​​is not difficult; there are usually enough linguistic clues to reconstruct the pronunciation of dead languages ​​that have been handed down in writing. Dead languages ​​for which no written evidence is available, but can only be reconstructed by comparing their descendants and extrapolating the empirical laws of sound changes into the past. Phonology (phonology) is of paramount importance for historical linguistics because sounds change less than meanings over the centuries. The earliest explorers of the Indo-European languages ​​focused on the language families most familiar to them as Europeans: Romance, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, and Slavic. As early as the 16th century, however, European travelers had noticed similarities between these and the Aryan languages ​​of distant India. The British orientalist and lawyer Sir William Jones (1746 to 1794), who with his knowledge of 28 languages ​​had unprecedented possibilities for comparison, first suggested in 1786 that they could all have a common ancestor; with this he founded the (later so-called) Indo-European hypothesis, which became the main motif of their research for the pioneers of historical linguistics in the 19th century. The early reconstructions of the original language are essentially based on Grimm's law of sound shift, according to which consonants from one group are regularly and predictably replaced by consonants from another group over time. Jacob Grimm (1785 to 1863), who formulated this law in 1822, is of course better known for the fairy tales he collected together with his brother Wilhelm (1786 to 1859). Among other things, Grimm's Law provided an explanation as to why some hard consonants have been preserved in the Germanic languages, although the general trend is to replace hard consonants with soft ones. Apparently the soft, voiced consonants b, d and g of the original (spoken with a short swing of the vocal cords) were replaced by the original 50 SPECTRUM OF SCIENCE DOSSIER: LANGUAGES

2 THOMAS C. MOORE The family tree of the Indo-European languages ​​can be traced back to an original language that was spoken more than 6000 years ago, namely, according to the authors, in the Middle East. This dissolved into dialects from which various languages ​​developed; these in turn split into generations of daughter languages. Tocharian, a dead language in Asia, has connections to Celtic, an ancient European language. Similarities between the Balio-Slavic and Indo-Iranian language families suggest that they influenced each other before their speakers separated and migrated north and south, respectively. Dead languages ​​are in italics, languages ​​that did not leave any written certificates are given in square brackets. Albanian, an independent branch of Indo-European, should be added to the family tree. SCIENCE SPECTRUM DOSSIER: LANGUAGES 51

3 LINGUISTICS che the corresponding hard, voiceless consonants p, t and k entered according to Grimm's law, a so-called detuning of these consonants had taken place. (A sound like p is spoken without swinging the vocal cords). Therefore, the Sanskrit dhar is considered an archaic form of the English drow and this in turn is more archaic than the German wear (all three words are related in meaning). With the help of such principles, the linguists reconstructed an Indo-European vocabulary, which in turn provides information about the living conditions of its speakers. The words describe a landscape and a climatic zone that were originally located in Europe between the Alps in the south and the Baltic and North Sea in the north. According to more recent findings, however, the homeland of the Indo-European original language is to be sought in western Asia. Three generations of archaeologists and linguists discovered and deciphered written evidence from nearly a dozen ancient languages; the sites range from today's Turkey to Chinese Turkestan, far to the east, where the speakers of the Tocharian lived. Their findings and findings, together with new advances in theoretical linguistics, forced a fundamental revision of the theory of language development. According to the new findings, the landscape that shaped the original language must lie somewhere in the so-called Fertile Crescent, a long, curved land that stretches from the Balkan Peninsula south-east to Anatolia (the Asian part of modern-day Turkey) and along it the southern coast of the Black Sea extends to the Caucasus. Here the revolutionary transition to sedentarism and agriculture must have taken place. The resulting abundance of goods prompted the Indo-Europeans to found villages and city-states, from which they entered the Eurasian continent and with it the stage of historical tradition about 6000 years ago. Evidence of early languages ​​Some of them invaded Anatolia from the east around 2000 BC and founded the Hittite Empire, which ruled all of Anatolia by 1400 BC at the latest. Its official language is one of the first written Indo-European languages. At the beginning of this century, Bedrich Hrozný, a linguist who taught in Vienna and later in Prague, deciphered Hittite cuneiform tablets that had been found in the library of the capital Hattusa, 200 kilometers east of present-day Ankara. The library also contained blackboards in two related languages: Luwian and Palai. The development of Luwian could be traced in later hieroglyphic inscriptions, which were written around 1200 BC after the fall of the Hittite Empire. It is in these languages ​​that the Anatolian language family manifested itself. The linguists also include Lydian (related to Hittite) and Lycian (related to Luwian), which are known from inscriptions from the last millennium BC, to the same family. The appearance of Hittite and other Anatolian languages ​​around the turn of the third to the second millennium BC provides researchers with a time limit for the splitting of the Indo-European original language. Since daughter languages ​​of the Anatolian original language already existed at this time, these migrations must in turn move the Indo-European original language away from their homeland, which the authors settle south of the Caucasus, and split it into dialects. Some spread west to Anatolia and Greece, others southeast to Iran and India. Most western languages ​​are descended from an eastern branch that circled the Caspian Sea. In contact with the Semitic languages ​​of Mesopotamia and with the Cartelian languages ​​in the Caucasus, many foreign words were adopted. THOMAS C. MOORE 52 SCIENCE SPECTRUM DOSSIER: LANGUAGES

4 at the latest in the fourth millennium BC and possibly much earlier from their mother tongue. This conclusion is supported by what is known about the members of the Indo-European language extended family who remained after the separation of the Anatolian languages. The languages ​​that have survived into written history are derived from these. Its earliest branch was the Iranian language and the Greco-Armenian language. The cuneiform tablets of Hattusa also show that at the latest in the middle of the second millennium, the Churritic language emerged from the Indo-Iranian group, which was spoken in the Mitanni empire on the southeastern border of Anatolia and was derived from ancient Indian (often called Sanskrit) and the Old Iranian. The language of Cretan Mycenaean texts from the same period, deciphered in the early 1950s by British scholars Michael G. F. Ventris and John Chadwick, emerged as a hitherto unknown dialect of Greek. All of these languages ​​were branched off from Armenian. Another language family that separated from the Indo-European original language relatively early is the Tocharian. Tocharian was not identified in texts from Chinese Turkestan until the first decades of this century. These texts were relatively easy to decipher because they were written in a variant of the Indian Brahmi script and were mainly translations of well-known Buddhist scriptures. The British scholar W. H. Henning put forward the thesis that the Tochars were identical to the Guteans. This name appears in Babylonian cuneiform scripts, which are in turn written in Akkadian, a Semitic language, and date from the end of the third millennium when King Sargon created the first empire of Mesopotamia. If Henning's views are correct, then the so-called Tochars are the first Indo-Europeans to appear in written history of the Middle East. Similarities in the vocabulary of Tocharian and Italo-Celtic suggest that the speakers of both language families in the Indo-European homeland had closer contact with one another before the former migrated eastwards. Plosives in the Indo-European Original Language Three groups of stops (consonants that are formed by interrupting the airway) were characteristic of the Indo-European Original Language. According to the classic model (above), one group was voiced (accompanied by a brief swing of the vocal cords like the g in Tiger), a second was voiced and aspirated (followed by an h-loud, a combination that does not occur in German), and the third was voiceless (like the k in Kind). In the model presented here (below) the first group consists of glottalized sounds, here the airway near the vocal cords is interrupted, just like a Dortmund native would pronounce the t in Dortmund. The second group contains voiced and voiced-aspirated forms, the third unvoiced and unvoiced-aspirated forms. Glottalized stops are given with apostrophes, in the original language missing stops are given in brackets. The multi-branched migration routes of the people and their languages ​​can now be traced back to a common Indo-European original language and their homeland. This follows from the above-mentioned revision of the phonological rules. For example, there is an undisputed peculiarity of the phonetic system of the original language: the almost complete absence of one of the three labials (the consonants formed with the lips) p, b and w. According to the previous idea, b was the missing consonant. Recent phonological research has shown exactly the opposite: If one of the three labials is missing in a language, it is most likely not the one that is written as b in German. Reconstruction of the language family tree We therefore decided to review the entire consonant system postulated for the original language, and as early as 1972 we proposed a new system. It is still the subject of scientific discussion. In the meantime, however, the focus is increasingly on the question of which properties the Indo-European original language has in common with other language families. The aim of the search is the original language of mankind, of which one now believes to have first inklings (compare The language families of America and the original language of mankind by Manfred Krifka, monthly spectrum, spectrum of science, January 1988). According to the classical theory, the so-called plosives, those consonants that are formed by interrupting the air flow, are divided into three categories. The labial stop b appears in the first column in the picture above as a voiced consonant; it is in brackets because it is suspected to be missing in the original language. The same group includes the two voiced stops d (closure between the tip of the tongue and the hard palate) and g (closure between the back of the tongue and the soft palate). In contrast, in the scheme we developed (lower part in the picture above), the corresponding consonants are formed with a click (glottal beat). This occurs when the larynx closes at the vocal cords, which interrupts the outward flow of air. In our scheme, the unvoiced, labial plosive sound (p ') is the missing sound (the line denotes the glottal beat); in the same group follow t 'and k', which relate to their voiced counterparts d and g as (p ') to (b). Glottic strokes occur in many different, but mainly Caucasian language families. The glottalized stop, a very hard form of a consonant, however, tends to weaken and disappear completely in most of the world's languages. That is why we have the EDWARD BELL SPECTRUM OF SCIENCE DOSSIER: LANGUAGES 53

5 LINGUISTICS assumption made that among the labial plosives, the p 'rather than the b was the one that disappeared from the Indo-European original language. Our Indo-European glottal system, which was constructed through the phonological comparison of living and historically attested Indo-European languages, seems to us to be more plausible than the classical system. The almost complete absence of the labial phoneme (p ') can also be easily explained in the context of the development of the two other glottalized stops and the whole system shown in the picture on the previous page. Reconstructing the Paths of Development NANCY FIELD The family trees of the words can be traced back as far as there are written records; for the time before they are reconstructed by applying sound development rules. Reconstructed words are marked with an asterisk. In many Indo-European languages, both the words for human and earth can be derived from the original word root * d h eg h om-. In our revision of the Indo-European consonant system, we also questioned the development paths of the original language to the historically documented Indo-European languages. After we had carried out a reconstruction of the original language consonants, we were able to determine that these are closer to those of the Germanic, Armenian and Hittite daughter languages ​​than to those of Sanskrit.This turns the classical idea exactly on its head, according to which the first-mentioned languages ​​have undergone a systematic sound shift, while Sanskrit would have faithfully retained the original sound system. The transformation of the consonants during the transition from mother tongue to daughter language is explained using the word for cattle as an example. The corresponding word in Sanskrit is gáuh and in Greek boûs; It has long been undisputed that the German Kuh, the English cow as well as boûs and gáuh come from a common Indo-European original word. However, this word has different forms depending on the sound system: In the glottal system it is called * kw wou- with the voiceless consonant (the star in front of a word indicates that it has been reconstructed, the superscript w indicates a rounding of the lips), which it corresponds to the corresponding words in English and German come closer in terms of sound than those in Greek or Sanskrit. In the classical system the word is called * gwou, which has almost the same form as in Sanskrit. According to Grimm's law, the transformation from * gwou to the German word Kuh would mean the detuning of the first consonant from g to k. 54 SPECTRUM OF SCIENCE DOSSIER: SPRACHEN

6 request. This shows the strength of the glottal system: it makes the assumption of a detuning going against the general trend superfluous and relates the voiceless plosives in the Germanic languages ​​with voiceless glottalized plosives of the Indo-European original language. Seen in this way, the Germanic languages ​​are more archaic than Sanskrit and Greek, and the glottal system is more conservative than the classical one in that it manages with fewer sound transformations and in particular avoids the difficult to justify detuning. We can learn more about the earliest Indo-Europeans from other elements of their reconstructed vocabulary: Some words describe a technique in agriculture that existed as early as 5000 BC. By this time the agricultural revolution had already spread north from its origins in the Fertile Crescent, where the first archaeological evidence of agriculture dates back to 8000 BC. From the same area agriculture spread southward, where it provided the material base for the civilizations of Mesopotamia, and westward to Egypt. The Indo-European words for barley, wheat and flax, for apples, cherries, mulberries and their trees, for vines and grapes as well as for various tools for cultivation and harvesting suggest a way of life that in Northern Europe up to the third or second millennium BC the first archaeological evidence was unknown. The landscape, which is described by the reconstructed original language, is mountainous, as evidenced by the many words for high mountains, mountain lakes and raging rivers fed by mountain springs. Such a picture fits neither with the Central European lowlands nor with the steppes north of the Black Sea, which were favored as a substitute for the homeland of the Indo-Europeans, but very well with the landscape of Eastern Anatolia and Transcaucasia, which is bordered by the sublime Caucasus. The flora of this region can be found in words for mountain oak, birch, beech, hornbeam, ash, willow, yew, pine or fir, heather and moss. The language also has names for animals that are not native to northern Europe: leopard, snow leopard, lion, monkey and elephant. Incidentally, the existence of a word for beech was used as an argument in favor of the European lowlands and against the lower Volga as a presumed Indo-European homeland. In fact, the beech does not grow east of a line from Gdansk on the Baltic Sea to the northwest corner of the Black Sea. However, two species of beech (Fagus orientalis and Fagus sylvatica) thrive in today's Turkey. The oak argument stands against the so-called beech argument: paleobotanical evidence shows that the oak (which is part of the vocabulary of the reconstructed language) was not native to post-glacial northern Europe, but only gradually emerged from the south at the turn of the fourth to the third millennium spread there. The designations for wheeled transport provide another important indication. For example, there are words for wheel (* rot h o-), axis (* hak h s-), yoke (* iuk'om) and associated devices. (The superscript h denotes the aspirated sound.) Horse is called * ek hos and foal is * p h olo. Names for the bronze fittings of a wagon and for the bronze tools with which the wagons were made from the hardwood of the mountains contain word components that denote the melting of metal. Petroglyphs, symbols carved in stone found in the area from the Transcaucasus to Upper Mesopotamia between the Van and Urmia Lakes, are the earliest images of chariots pulled by horses. The presumed homeland of the Indo-Europeans is at least one of the areas in which the horse was finally domesticated and harnessed as a draft animal in the fourth millennium BC. From here, in the third and second millennia, vehicles on wheels spread along with the migration of the Indo-Europeans to the east to Central Asia, to the west to the Balkans and in a wide arc around the Black Sea to Central Europe. The chariot is significant evidence of intercultural exchange, as it played an essential role in funeral and other religious rites among both the Indo-European peoples and the Mesopotamians. The contact to other West Asian cultures is also attested by common mythological themes, for example the theft of the apples of the Hesperides by Heracles and similar Old Norse and Celtic legends. Assumed homeland: Eastern Anatolia In addition, both the Semitic and Indo-European languages ​​identify people with the earth. In Hebrew, adam means man and adamah the earth, both come from a root in the Semitic predecessor language (compare the biblical creation story: And the Lord God made man out of a lump of earth ...). The foreign words human and humus in German come from the Latin words homo and humus from the Urindo-European word * d h eg h om-, which means earth and man (earthling) at the same time. The origin of the Indo-European languages ​​in Eastern Anatolia is also suggested by numerous words that were borrowed from the languages ​​native to that region: Semitic, Kartvelian, Sumerian and even Egyptian. Conversely, Indo-European also passed words on to each of these languages. The prominent plant geneticist Nikolai I. Wawilow from the former Soviet Union found an impressive example of such an exchange: the Russian vinograd (grape), the Italian vino and the Germanic wine (wine). These can all be traced back to the Indo-European * woi-no (or * wei-no), the early Semitic * wajnu, the Egyptian * wns, the Kartwelic * wino and the Hittite * wijana. We must admit that in the vast area in which we have settled the homeland of the Indo-Europeans, there is no archaeological evidence of a culture that could be clearly classified as Indo-European. After all, archaeologists have found relics of a material and spiritual culture at a number of sites that is at least similar to that found in the Indo-European vocabulary. This is how the people of the Tall Halaf culture adorned northern Mesopotamia SPECTRUM OF SCIENCE DOSSIER: LANGUAGES 55

7 LINGUISTICS third millennium BC. Two groups of Indo-Iranian speakers made their way east during the second millennium BC. One of them, the speakers of the Kafiri languages, lives to this day in Nuristan on the southern slopes of the Hindu Kush in northeastern Afghanistan. In his book Five Continents, in which he describes in detail his numerous botanical expeditions between 1916 and 1933, Wawilow puts forward the theory that the kafirs may have preserved some of the original remains of Indo-Iranian to this day. THOMAS C. MOORE Petroglyphs from Uzbekistan (from the second or third millennium BC) provide archaeological confirmation for the linguistically based claim that the Indo-Europeans owned drawn wagons. Carts such as the one symbolically drawn in stone here made agriculture and the hikes easier, which were triggered by the growing need for pasture and arable land. their vessels with religious symbols of masculinity such as bull horns and sometimes rams' heads as well as stylized leopard skins, which can also be found in the somewhat more recent Çatal-Hüyük culture of the seventh millennium BC in western Anatolia. Both cultures have similarities with the later Transcaucasian culture of an area that stretches along the Kura and Arax rivers and includes the southern part of Transcaucasia, eastern Anatolia and northern Iran. The Details of Migration In the 2000 years before the Indo-Europeans who stayed at home began to write their history, the agricultural revolution brought them a real population explosion. We can assume that the population pressure triggered the successive waves of migration of the Indo-Europeans to fertile, not yet cultivated areas. The linguistically based relocation of the country of origin from Northern Europe to Asia Minor forced a profound revision of the theories about the migration routes on which the Indo-European languages ​​spread across the Eurasian continent. In particular, the hypothetical Aryans, who allegedly carried the so-called Aryan or Indo-Iranian language from Europe to India and were forcibly committed by the National Socialists as Nordic supermen, are in fact real Indo-Iranians who have made the much more plausible route from Asia Minor to the western edge of the Himalayas and traveled down through present-day Afghanistan to finally settle in India. Therefore Europe is not to be seen as the starting point, but rather as an end point of the Indo-European migration. The speakers of Hittite, Luwian, and other Anatolian languages ​​migrated relatively short distances within their homeland, and their languages ​​became extinct with them. The more extensive migrations of the speakers of the Greek-Armenian-Indo-Iranian dialects, however, began with the dissolution of the core of the Indo-European language community in The golden fleece, the lacquer and the salmon, the second group of Indo-Iranians, who followed a path further south into the valley of the Indus spoke a dialect from which the historically documented languages ​​of India descended. The earliest of these is the language of the Rig Veda hymns, which were written in an ancient variant of Sanskrit. The indigenous peoples of the Indus Valley, known from archaeological finds in their towns of Mohenjodaro and Harappa, were evidently ousted by the Indo-Iranians. After they had migrated to the east, the Greek-Armenian language community stayed in their homeland for some time. Judging by the number of loanwords, they had contact there with the speakers of Kartvel, Tochar and the old Indo-European languages, from which the historically documented European languages ​​later developed. Such a borrowing from Kartwel became the word ko as, fleece in the Homeric epics. On a bilingual cuneiform tablet that was found in the Hattusa archive, a legend about a hunter is recorded in the Churritic language, which was already extinct at that time, together with a translation into Hittite. We owe this remarkable discovery to the Churritic word aschi, from which askós, Homer's word for fur, obviously derives. Before they migrated to the Aegean Sea, the Greeks also borrowed the Hittite word kursa, which became búrsa, another synonym for fleece, due to a frequently occurring phonetic shift. These words seem to confirm the idea of ​​the ancient Greeks that their ancestors were 56 SPECTRUM OF SCIENCE DOSSIER: LANGUAGES

8 Bibliography Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: Reconstruction and historical-typological analysis of an original language and culture. By Thomas W. Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav W. Ivanov (in Russian). Tbilisi State University, Archeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins. By Colin Renfrew. Cambridge University Press, Reconstructing, Languages ​​and Cultures: Abstracts and Materials from West Asia, as told in the legend of Jason and the Argonauts who sought the golden fleece in Colchis on the eastern shore of the Black Sea. The proof that the Greeks immigrated from there to their historical homeland makes the Greek colonies on the northern shore of the Black Sea appear in a completely new light. What was previously thought of as colonies were probably very early settlements, bases of the Greeks on their way to their historical homeland. The historical literary documented European languages ​​provide evidence that the dialects from which they are derived migrated to Central Asia with the Tochars. These languages ​​have many words in common. One example is the word for salmon, which used to be a weighty argument in favor of a home in Northern Europe, as the tributaries of the Baltic Sea were teeming with salmon. The word lox (salmon) in the Germanic languages ​​may be found in the word lak- in Hindi; this refers to a varnish dye, the pink shade of which is reminiscent of that of salmon meat. A species of salmon, Salmo trutta, is also found in the rivers of the Caucasus; and the root lak-s means fish in earlier and later forms of Tocharian as well as in the ancient European languages. That the speakers of some early Indo-European dialects migrated to Central Asia is confirmed by loan words from the Finno-Ugric language family, the mother of modern Finnish and Hungarian, from the northern Urals. Under the influence of Finno-Ugric, Tocharian went through a complete transformation of its consonant system. Words in the First International Interdisciplinary Symposium on Language and Prehistory, Ann Arbor, Michigan, November 8-12, edited by Vitaly Shevoroshkin. Study publisher Dr. Norbert Brockmeier, In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archeology and Myth. By J. P. Mallory. Thames and Hudson, When Worlds Collide: Indo-Europeans and Pre-Indo-Europeans. Edited by John Greppin and T. L. Markey. Karoma Publishers, the ancient European languages ​​clearly borrowed from Altaic and other Central Asian languages, provide further evidence that their speakers resided there. On their long way back to the west, the old Europeans settled north of the Black Sea in a loosely organized community. It is therefore not entirely wrong to regard this region as a second home for these peoples. The contributions of other sciences From the end of the third to the first millennium BC, the speakers of the ancient European languages ​​gradually spread to Europe. Their arrival is evidenced archaeologically by the appearance of the semi-nomadic barrow culture, in which the dead were buried in large stone settings. Anthropometry, the scientific measurement of the human body, has recently been investigating the extent to which the physiognomy depicted in Hittite reliefs can be found among members of European peoples. The blond, blue-eyed Nordic type is still to be seen as the result of a mixture of Indo-European invaders with their predecessors in the colonization of Europe. The megalithic buildings, such as Stonehenge in England, which were once built near the periphery of the continent, are reminiscent of the culture of this indigenous population in Europe. With the exception of Basque, a non-Indo-European language with possible distant relatives in the Caucasus, the languages ​​of the former inhabitants of Europe have been supplanted by the Indo-European dialects. Nonetheless, those languages ​​contributed to the historical European language families that explain certain differences between them. The British archaeologist Colin Renfrew, in his studies of megalithic cultures and their disappearance, as well as the spread of agriculture from the Middle East, came to conclusions about the arrival of the Indo-Europeans that agree well with ours. Our conclusions, which are based largely on linguistic arguments, have to be confirmed by pending archaeological investigations. Not only the above-mentioned working principle of the molecular biologists, but also the results of their work could be helpful for such a confirmation: The comparison of the DNA sequences of members of different peoples will undoubtedly help to draw the family tree of the Europeans and thus their languages ​​and thus also the migration routes more precisely. Anthropometry and history will also add to the bigger picture.Subject to an expansion and correction of our results in detail, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the home of the Indo-Europeans, the cradle of a large part of world civilization, is in the Middle East: Ex oriente lux! Thomas W. Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav W. Ivanov are the authors of a two-volume work on the Indo-European language and the Indo-Europeans, which was published in Russian in 1984. Thomas W. Gamkrelidze heads the Tsereteli Institute for Oriental Studies in Tbilisi (Tbilisi) in Georgia and is Professor of Linguistics at the State University of Tbilisi. Vyacheslav V. Ivanov is Professor of Linguistics and Director of the Department of Slavic Languages ​​at the Institute for Slavic and Balkan Studies in Moscow. The authors would like to thank Gerard Piel, former editor of Scientific American, for his assistance in preparing this article. SCIENCE SPECTRUM DOSSIER: LANGUAGES 57