Sanskrit - Why is it called the mother of European Languages

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by geek, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. geek Registered Member

    Again, what made you choose 70KYA.
    And that to Which group of humans, Which Area and Which language, was that?
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  3. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I wondered about that too. I don't know of any plausible evidence that spoken language is that recent, and fully expect that Neanderthals had a highly developed ability to speak. I'd guess that Homo erectus might have had a less developed ability to speak as well. It probably goes far back in the human line.

    Having said that, I don't know of any reason (apart from Hindu piety) to think that Sanskrit was humanity's first language. Whatever language the earliest speaking hominids spoke, it was almost certainly a system of grunts much simpler than Sanskrit. (Being mankind's first language isn't something to brag about, if the intent is to form and express abstract concepts.)

    There's lots of reason to think that Sanskrit is a development of the south Asian variant of proto-Indo-European that also spread westwards into Iran and Mesopotamia and developed into Avestan and perhaps Mitanni. In India it evolved into Sanskrit, Pali and the Prakrits and subsequently into a whole collection of modern vernaculars like today's Hindi.

    And since Sanskrit seems to have been used as a liturgical language by the Vedic priests, for whom precision in getting every syllable right in their incantations was very important, it was preserved by the Brahmans alongside the later variants down to the present day.

    That survival of an ancient language isn't unique. The Latin and Greek languages are as old as Sanskrit and they have survived down to today. Latin is largely used for liturgical purposes today, but it was the language of European scholarship until just a few hundred years ago. (Leibniz and Newton wrote in part in Latin.) Greek is still used for everyday purposes by the modern Greeks and Greek Cypriots.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Not my choice. This is the point in time at which anthropologists and archeologists see an explosion of complex, coordinated activities that could not possibly be performed by people who were, at the same time, using their hands for communication.
    70,000 years ago, all humans lived in Africa. Duh?

    One of the complex, coordinated activities that we see just a few thousand years later was, in fact, the first successful migration OUT of Africa. Most of the planet was suffering through an ice age, depositing an enormous amount of the planet's water into the glaciers and polar caps, greatly reducing precipitation and shrinking the food supply. These people walked all the way to Australia--with occasional boat voyages, which were a lot shorter than they are today because lower sea level means smaller seas. We know this because DNA analysis shows that the Native Australians have the same DNA as the San people (formerly known as "Bushmen") who lived in northern Africa at that time, but since the desertification of the Sahara, they moved south like everyone else.

    As for "which language," we have not been able to trace languages and language relationships back more than a few thousand years, because without written records we have nothing to trace. It's reasonable to suspect that all human languages come from a single ancestor, but we have no way to test that hypothesis. Just a few years ago, a relationship was suggested between the Yenisei language of Siberia and the Na-Dene language family of western North America (including Navajo, Tlingit and several languages between). The evidence is hopeful, but until enough relationships have been discovered to rule out coincidence, this remains a hypothesis rather than a theory.

    So to ask what language was spoken in northern Africa 70,000 years ago is a question that will surely never be answered, unless someone invents time-travel.
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  7. rcscwc Registered Senior Member


    Sir, you may have an excellent grasp of Romance languages. But your knowledge of Sanskrit needs to be improved.

    Who was Zoroaster? He is first mentioned in Rig Veda as Jaruth. This Jaruth was a step brother of Vashishta. Both were priests of Agni, but there was a bitter feud between them. As a result of persecution by Vashishta, he went to "wild west", present day Iran. There he founded his cult in which he inverted Vedic deities. The language he used for Avesta cannot be comprehended without reference to Vedic language. His followers are now known as Parsis and they too acknowledge it. In fact Vahishta, Vashishta, is mentioned in Avesta and Gathas. Btw, GATHA means a story in Sanskrit.

    So Avesta is ancient but a wee bit later than Rig Veda.

    How ancient is Rig Veda? Please don't quote Max Muller.

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