Oldest known language(s)

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by skaught, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    1500 BCE was conjured up by Max Muller, and is papably WRONG. Bhagawat Purana has astronomical data which point that the said events happened earlier than 3100. Max Muller just dismissed it. How? Only he knows. Or maybe you too.

    If a certain astronomical event is described in detail and turns out to verifiable correct, what do you conclude? That SOMEONE did observe it and recorded it. Alternative is this: Some one, a SUPER BRAIN cooked up the data after 1500 BCE. Back calculation, in other words. Know how hard it was do so 3500 years ago?

    Now Sanskrit appears in 1500 BCE, that so? How do you explain the astronomical events in Rig Veda, events as old as 6000 years ago.

    Another. It appeared in 1500 BCE, and very quickly, very fast, Vedas were complied, Purana appeared, Upanishads appeared, other secular treatises [medicine, law etc] appeared, all by the time of Buddha!!! Just in 800-900 years? Do you even know how many lines and words those books contain?

    Btw, RV is in archaic Sanskrit and has never been redacted in Panini grammar. Reason? There was a taboo on its trading, hence writing it down, and thus came down by oral traditions.

    Now please do not tell me that RV was written in 1200 BCE or so.

    PS: If you reply, please don't put on your mod cap. That would be intolerance of dissenting view.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2010
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  3. Cifo Day destroys the night, Registered Senior Member

    I don't have enough posts to allow me to provides links, but if you google "Tally stick", "Ishango bone", "Lebombo bone" etc, you can find more information, especially in Wikipedia.
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I have never banned anyone--except the ubiquitous commercial spammers. But like all the Moderators should do, I enforce the scientific method in this place of science and scholarship. The Rule of Laplace reminds us that extraordinary assertions must be supported by extraordinary evidence before we are obliged to treat them with respect. To post an assertion that is controversial, counterintuitive, or in some other way extraordinary, and provide as evidence only source material which, itself, is controversial, counterintuitive, or in some other way extraordinary, does not quite satisfy the rule.

    Nonetheless, I recognize the fact that linguistics is a "soft" science, and this board doesn't get a lot of traffic, so I generally let discussions ramble on unless they degenerate into pure hogwash. But you have to settle for the fact that I will do my job and at least weigh in occasionally.
    It's hard to guess things like that. One broader hypothesis that seems less than extraordinary is that it evolved out of hunting signals, which are a set of "natural" sounds including wind and animals of all orders: birds as well as mammals and insects.
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  7. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    How do you judge what is sceintific or not? I reject current theories of AIT. I reject your surmise that Sanskrit is only 3500 years old.

    You can use La Place rule in a subjective manner.
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I'm not a professional linguist, I'm just reporting what I've learned over the decades. Very little of what I post on this board is from my own original ideas, and when it is I clearly identify it.

    Sanskrit may go back a couple of hundred years before that, but then you're running up against Proto-Indo-Iranian right before the Indic-Iranian split, so you haven't got very many centuries of wiggle room. If you push that, then you're pushing on the Balto-Slavic Indo-Iranian split.

    All of this is supported by archeology and anthropology, it isn't just whimsical linguistic formulas. One of the ways you can tell where a people were, for example, is by the words they have and don't have for particular species of plants and animals.
  9. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    One of the ways to tell WHEN people were is the astronomical events describerd by them.

    Making Sanktit 1700 BCE old still does not explain the volume of literature available in no other language, except maybe Chinese.

    Know this as a fact. Charak and Sushruta produced treatises of medicine and surgery repectively and codified the practices, not later than 400 BCE. And they clearly mention older scholars in their works. Assuming 1700 BCE, are 1300 years enough for such a work? they were either super geniuses or were standing on the soulders of earlier giants of a long tradition.

    Max Muller relied solely on language, and bombed. Surprising westren Indologists are just a series of foot notes to him!!

    Sumerian might be older. How much literature is available?
  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member


    The problem with your theory is that we know when Sanskrit was codified, by Panini in 4 BCE who laid down the 3,959 rules of Sanskrit grammar which have withstood the test of time.

    So earlier treatises would have to be in earlier renditions of Sanskrit and going back to 1700 BCE we would probably come across a form of Sanskrit that would be very different from what we call Sanskrit today

    I agree that western indologists are not a very reliable source of information at all times since they may have vested interests involved but where is the evidence of Sanskrit before 1700 BCE? For all you know, the scholars were referencing earlier works in a different Indic language.
  11. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    How old is Rig Veda? Sanskrit is bound to be older than that, NO?

    Also, how old is Bhagwata Purana and Mahabharata? The former contains the core of the latter, so is older of the twoo.

    None of these mention Gautam, the Buddha or Buddhism, what to talk of later personalities. Moreover RV is in archaic Sanskrit, which also happens to be language of Gatha, the Parsi scripture.

    MB and BP do mention Gautama AND Buddha, but as two different sages. Presto. All of them predate Buddha, who was born about 563 BCE. So these books are older than that. By how many years? A few centuries, 200 years OK for you? So they were there by 800 BCE. In 700 years? Did they have access to modern word processors? Defies reason.

    Remember, Mahabharata itself is larger than the Greek epics put together. 2200 Hymns in RV, 16000 verses in BP.

    Same is true of Manu's laws, and of later law givers none of whom mentions Buddha!! [maybe 1000 pages or more all of them inclusive].
  12. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    400 BCE. But what a couple of zeroes between friends. But could earlier than 500 BCE.

    Agreed that some texts would have been redacted into Panini Sanskrit. But the sheer volume of texts was so much that thousands of scholars would be required for the job. And then, lot many many were not REDACTED. RV is one. Almost no Brahman or Arnanyk has been redacted, Devi Bhagawat Purana, BP are only partially redacted. Arthurva Veda too is not redacted.

    Why did Panini feel the need for overhauling the grammar conprehensively? because a LONNNNNG usage had brought out certain major problems.

    Second. He he create a quatum change on his own? Quantum change yes, but he must have relied on some earlier efforts which were not so cogent, and he put them into order. Pal, think over it. How time MUST elapse before a language is reformed comprehensively? LONNNGISH. Just in 1000 years or so? Think of the old old times. There just were not one lakh authors on word processing churning out those volumes. Slow composing in mind, then penning it down. Paper was costly, pal.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Bear in mind that parchment was not invented until the first millennium BCE. Before that the most commonly used writing materials were stone, which is very slow to work on so there is not a huge volume of that sort of writing, and clay and papyrus, which are very fragile so very few examples survive the ages. So the fact that there is any literature at all remaining from the second millennium is something of a miracle.

    Also remember that when the Indo-European tribes migrated into what is now India, they arrived when Harappan civilization was in a decline. The Harappans had invented writing, although so little of it survives that we have not been able to decipher it or classify their spoken language. (For all we know, it might have been Proto-Dravidian.) The Harappans had a considerable wealth of science and scholarship for the "new" Indians to salvage from oblivion, organize, and expand on.

    India appears to have been illiterate for seven or eight hundred years, between the demise of Harappan civilization and the maturation of Indic civilization, the entire duration of Sanskrit's use as a vernacular language before it began to fragment into the Prakrits. But that particular form of "darkness" does not correspond to a true abysmal "Dark Age" in the European sense. Just as medieval Europe managed to accomplish very little despite having the technology of writing, in contrast civilizations elsewhere in the world have accomplished great things without writing, and so did the post-Harappan Indians. Sanskrit was apparently like Ancient Greek and many other languages: a strong literary tradition was developed and maintained orally. Then when writing was finally invented there was just a whole lot of stuff waiting to be written down!
    You're forgetting the Harappans.

    When the Indo-European tribes migrated from the Pontic Steppe into India, they were a Neolithic people. They had made the Paradigm Shift into the Agricultural Revolution, and had progressed beyond the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but they were a long way from the next Paradigm Shift into developing civilization.
    Sumerian was written on clay tablets! How many of those do you suppose survived for four or five thousand years? The reason there is a quantum increase in the amount of writing left from more recent civilizations is the invention of parchment, which is faster to write on than stone and is more durable than clay.

    Do you suppose in ten thousand years people will be wondering why there are so many books from the fifteenth century onward, but so very few from the era before that? It's because of the invention of printing!

    Technology is an inextricable part of culture.
  14. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    4 BCE as far as I know


    You'd think the people who exclusively study the Kambojas of Panini would get it right, yes?

    The Rig Ved is the oldest text so the 1700 BCE reference is made to that text. The Gita is much younger and follows Panini's rules so its probably between 3 BCE and 1 BCE.

    As for Buddhism, the literature of Buddhism comes from Pali [which is a derivative of Prakrit, before Prakrit got eventually Sanskritised] and Brahmins were notoriously ethnocentric against Dravidian texts. Do you think they would have read or even referenced it? Has any Brahmin text ever mentioned Buddhism? Also, the Pali canon was an oral tradition:

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  15. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    For longer texts, Indians used palm leaf or birch bark as paper, much more perishable than clay. It was easier to hand down oral version than the written ones, as palm leaf records must be copied every two three decades.

    So far it has not been established conclusively:
    1. If Indus civilisation was not Aryan in nature.
    2. Language of seals is NOT some Aryan language like Sanskrit.
    In fact some break throughs have been reported in translasting them into Sanskrit. If you do not start with a language as a predicate, kiss good bye to "decipherment".

    It may be noted that the westren Indologists started with AIT, and slowly and grudgingly gave it up. Now AMT is doing the round.

    Still, what is explanation for such a huge corpus of books surviving till today? Hindu books, I mean.
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    "Book" is the vernacular word for the codex writing technology:
    • Thin,
    • Sturdy,
    • Flexible sheets (parchment, and later paper),
    • That can be written on with a simple tool (not a hammer and chisel),
    • Quickly,
    • With durable ink,
    • On both sides,
    • Gathered in a uniform,
    • Ordered stack,
    • And bound with a cover to make the whole thing sturdy and stackable with other codices.
    This transition from one-sided, fragile parchment, rolled up in an awkward bulky scroll, was as big a quantum improvement in the technology of writing as the original transition from papyrus to parchment was, and in its day it surely had as great an impact on scholarship, government, and other types of "knowledge work" as printing did a couple of millennia later, and as the Electronic Revolution in our era.

    But from our perspective its main advantages are:
    • Writing was easier so more stuff was written, and
    • Writing was more durable so more stuff lasted long enough for us to read it.
    I'll "leave this as an exercise for the reader," as all good textbooks say

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    , but I suggest you'll find that in every civilization, there's a multiple-orders-of-magnitude increase in the volume of writing passed down to us, coinciding with their invention of the codex (paper-and-books) technology.
  17. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Fraggle, at least 40,000 manuscripts 500 CE and earlier have been founding AND counting. Some are only in fragments. Some are known to have existed but are lost. Some are lost completely, some have Sanskrit originals lost. In some cases translations are existing. Dharmakirti's Buddhist philosophy is lost, but Chinese translation is available. Some of them are known through commentaries and crticisms only. How many pages of A4 will these 40,000 plus MSs take? How many words they might have?

    Fraggle, that literary effort is not be scoffed at, not by you who claims to a linguist.

    Pick up any book, and you have a BIG sample of language. Compare it with a latin tome of same lineage and size. Then you will be floored by the fact that water has 25 or more names in Sanskrit, Moon has 20 AND Krishna Himself is addressed by at least 100 names. Take such common substances and analyse them.

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