Paleolithic Continuity Theory | Wikipedia audio article


The Paleolithic Continuity Theory (or PCT;
Italian: La teoria della continuità), since 2010 relabelled as a “paradigm”, as in Paleolithic
Continuity Paradigm or PCP), is a hypothesis suggesting that the Proto-Indo-European language
(PIE) can be traced back to the Upper Paleolithic, several millennia earlier than the Chalcolithic
or at the most Neolithic estimates in other scenarios of Proto-Indo-European origins. As advanced by Mario Alinei in his Origini
delle Lingue d’Europa (Origins of the Languages of Europe), published in two volumes in 1996
and 2000, the PCT posits that the advent of Indo-European languages should be linked to
the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe, at around 40,000 years ago. Employing “lexical periodisation”, Alinei
arrives at a timeline deeper than even that of Colin Renfrew’s Anatolian hypothesis, previously
the mainstream linguistic theory proposing the earliest origin for Indo-European.Since
2004, an informal workgroup of scholars who support the Paleolithic Continuity Theory
has been held online. Members of the group (referred to as “Scientific
Committee” in the website) include linguists Xaverio Ballester (University of Valencia)
and Francesco Benozzo (University of Bologna), prehistorian Marcel Otte (Université de Liège)
and anthropologist Henry Harpending (University of Utah).The Paleolithic Continuity Theory
is distinctly a minority view as it enjoys very little academic support, serious discussion
being limited to a small circle of scholars. It is not listed by Mallory among the proposals
for the origins of the Indo-European languages that are widely discussed and considered credible
within academia.==Overview==
The framework of PCT is laid out by Alinei in four main assumptions:
Continuity is the basic pattern of European prehistory and the basic working hypothesis
on the origins of IE languages. Stability and antiquity are general features
of languages. The lexicon of natural languages, due to its
antiquity, may be “periodized” along the entire course of human evolution. Archaeological frontiers coincide with linguistic
frontiers.The continuity theory draws on a Continuity Model (CM), positing the presence
of IE and non-IE peoples and languages in Europe from Paleolithic times and allowing
for minor invasions and infiltrations of local scope, mainly during the last three millennia.Arguing
that continuity is “the archeologist’s easiest pursuit,” Alinei deems this “the easiest working
hypothesis,” putting the burden of proof on competing hypotheses as long as none provide
irrefutable counter-evidence. Alinei also claims linguistic coherence, rigor
and productivity in the pursuit of this approach.==Historical reconstruction==
Associated with the Paleolithic Continuity Theory (PCT) is the historical reconstruction
proposed by Alinei, which suggests that Indo-European speakers were native in Europe since the paleolithic. According to this reconstruction, the differentiation
process of languages would have taken an extremely long time; by the end of the Ice Age the Indo-European
language family had differentiated into proto Celtic/Italic/Germanic/Slavic/Baltic speakers
occupying territories within or close to their traditional homelands. The rate of change accelerated when (Neolithic)
social stratification and colonial wars began. Summarizing:
The colonial expansion of the Celts started much earlier than La Tène culture and proceeded
(generally) from West to East, not vice versa. The Mesolithic cultures of Northern Europe
are identified with already differentiated Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Uralic groups. Scandinavia was colonized by Germanic groups
“only” after deglaciation, and was better able to preserve its original character in
isolation. Germany, in contrast, suffered fragmentation
as a result of the Neolithic appearance of the Linear Pottery culture, and developed
a wealth of dialects. The prehistoric distribution of proto-languages
akin to Italic was an important factor underlying the current distribution of Romance languages
throughout Europe. The Slavic languages originated in the Balkans
and became linked with the Neolithic expansion. This group would be especially identified
by the Baden culture.The Paleolithic Continuity hypothesis reverses the Kurgan hypothesis
and largely identifies the Indo-Europeans with Gimbutas’s “Old Europe.” PCT reassigns the Kurgan culture (traditionally
considered early Indo-European) to a people of predominantly mixed Uralic and Turkic stock. Alinei argues that the use of borrowed Turkic
words in horse terminology, such as qaptï (“to grab with hands and teeth”), yabu (“horse”),
yam (“nomadic caravan-tent”), yuntă (“horse” (generic)), aygur (“stallion”), homut (“horse
collar”) and alaša (“pack horse”), in Samoyedic (Northern and Southern), in some Finno-Ugric
languages and Slavic languages, “proves the antiquity of Turkic presence in the European
area bordering Asia.” He suggests that horse domestication originated
with Turkic peoples, offering this as an explanation why horse terminology in the European area
bordering Asia and in most of Eastern Europe is rooted in Turkic and not Indo-European
vocabulary. He supports this hypothesis by making a tentative
linguistic identification of Etruscans as a Uralic, proto-Hungarian people that had
already undergone strong proto-Turkic influence in the third millennium BC, when Pontic invasions
would have brought this people to the Carpathian Basin. A subsequent migration of Urnfield culture
signature around 1250 BC is said to have caused this ethnic group to expand south in a general
movement of people. This is equated with the upheaval of the Sea
Peoples and the overthrow of an earlier Italic substrate at the onset of the “Etruscan” Villanovan
culture.==Genetics==
In introduction to PCT Mario Alinei argues, following Cavalli Sforza, that the distribution
of genetic markers largely corresponds to that of languages. He further contends that 80 percent of Europe’s
human genetic material dates back to the Paleolithic, and cites Bryan Sykes in claiming that only
a fifth of European DNA can be traced back to neolithic incomers.A 2009 study comparing
mitochondrial DNA lineages of late hunter-gatherers, early farmers, and modern Europeans found
large differences between the three groups. In particular, 82 percent of hunter-gatherers
had maternal lineages that are rare in modern central Europeans.The origin of paternal lineages
remains difficult to prove because modern science is unable to extract Y-DNA haplogroups
from Paleolithic samples. However, the recent analysis of Arredi, Poloni
and Tyler-Smith (2007) suggests that R1b-M269, the most common western European haplogroup,
may have entered Europe only in the Neolithic.==Reception==
Alinei’s Origini delle Lingue d’Europa was reviewed favourably in 1996 by Jonathan Morris
in Mother Tongue, a journal dedicated to the reconstruction of Paleolithic language, judging
Alinei’s theory as being both simpler than its rivals and more powerful
in terms of the insights it provides into language in the Meso- and Palaeolithic. While his book contains some flaws I believe
that it deserves to be regarded as one of the seminal texts on linguistic archaeology,
although given its lamentable lack of citation in English-language circles, it appears that
recognition will have to wait until a translation of the original Italian appears. Morris’s review was reprinted as the foreword
to the 2000 edition of Alinei’s book.Renzi (1997) sharply criticized Alinei’s book, refuting
in particular the claim of the presence of Latin and of its different territorial forms
in Italy in the 2nd millennium BC. Renzi argues that this theory would subvert
firmly established concepts of Romance philology and dialectology, such as the concepts of
substratum, vulgar Latin and so on.Alinei’s theory was again critically reviewed by Adiego
Lajara (2002): Although some of Alinei’s reflections on linguistic
change are very interesting, it should be said that certain conceptions in his work
– such as the excessive immobility of languages or the relationship between types of language
and progress in the prehistoric lithic industry – are very debatable. Alinei’s core theory – continuity from the
Palaeolithic – runs into a serious difficulty: it obliges us to deal with words traditionally
reconstructed for Indo-European, referring to notions that did not exist in the Palaeolithic
as loans, when from the formal standpoint they are indistinguishable from those Alinei
sees as being Indo-European in the Palaeolithic period.==See also==
Indo-European substrate hypotheses Proto-Indo-European language
Proto-Indo-Europeans Proto-Indo-European Urheimat hypotheses
Indigenous Aryan Theory Regional Continuity Model
Polygenism==References====Literature==
Adams, Jonathan and Otte, Marcel. “Did Indo-European Languages spread before
farming?” Current Anthropology, 40, No. 1. (February, 1999), pp. 73–77. [3]
Alinei, Mario. “An Alternative Model for the Origins of European
Peoples and Languages: the continuity theory”. Quaderni di Semantica 21, 2000, pp. 21–50. Alinei, Mario (2002). “Towards a Generalized Continuity Model for
Uralic and Indo-European Languages” in The Roots of Peoples and languages of Northern
Eurasia IV, edited by K. Julku. Alinei Mario. “Interdisciplinary and Linguistic Evidence
for Palaeolithic Continuity of European, Uralic and Altaic Populations in Eurasia”. Quaderni di Semantica, 24, 2, 2003.==External links==
continuitas.org – Principal PCT website Review of Mario Alinei’s – Origini delle Lingue
d’Europa (Origins of the Languages of Europe) – by Jonathan Morris

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