What is the Homeland Problem?

Feb 22, 2015 by

In my recent discussions with blog readers and students, it has become clear to me that before considering the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) homeland problem in more detail it might be beneficial to review what a linguistic homeland is in the first place. Particularly at issue is the possibility of a “compromise” theory: given that both the Steppe and the Anatolian theories of the PIE homeland have their proponents that put forward certain arguments and provide some evidence for their claims, could it be that both of these theories are correct and that PIE homeland is located in both southern Russia and Turkey? For example, my former student and co-author of a paper published in Science, Rory van Tuyl writes:

“Haak [et al. 2015] shows that Europeans are genetically admixed between Early Neolithic peoples (presumably from Anatolia) and late Neolithic peoples (from the Pontic steppes). Why can’t we assume that the modern IE languages of Europe have origins that are also admixtures?”

Another reader writes on Facebook (spellings corrected):

“Personally, I’m skeptical of any uni-variant migration story for IE languages. People move in waves and they move in complicated fashions”

A similar compromise theory is explored in Piazza and Cavalli-Sforza (2006), though they end up siding with the Steppe theory:

“…if the expansions began at 9,500 years ago from Anatolia and at 6,000 years ago from the Yamnaya culture region, then a 3,500-year period elapsed during their migration to the Volga-Don region from Anatolia, probably through the Balkans. There a completely new, mostly pastoral culture developed under the stimulus of an environment unfavorable to standard agriculture, but offering new attractive possibilities. Our hypothesis is, therefore, that Indo-European languages derived from a secondary expansion from the Yamnaya culture region after the Neolithic farmers, possibly coming from Anatolia and settled there, developing pastoral nomadism.”

However, a compromise theory of this sort is impossible, by definition and here is why. The linguistic homeland of an ancestral language is defined as the last place where that ancestral language was spoken in the time leading up to its first split. In the case of PIE, most scholars agree that the first split was between the Anatolian branch and the rest of the family (dubbed, for ease of reference, Proto-Nuclear-Indo-European, or PNIE). Thus, the PIE homeland is, by definition, the place where it was spoken in the time leading up to the separation of the Anatolian languages. Where was that location and could it have been more than one place?

Before considering this issue, let me illustrate with a much more recent and hence much better-understood example. As a little thought experiment, imagine a Martian who has landed on Earth and knows nothing about human history, but only about the current state of affairs. For whatever reason, the Martian gets particularly curious about Portuguese, noticing that there are two varieties of it: Brazilian and European. The Ethnologue, which tends to err on the side of splitting rather than lumping, surprisingly treats the two as dialects of the same language. Yet many other sources treat them as different languages. Linguistically speaking, European and Brazilian Portuguese are quite distinctive, especially in the spoken/colloquial language, more so than British and American English (which, by the way, some people consider different languages). Brazilian Portuguese has many words absent in the European variety, but importantly the differences between them go well beyond words. For example, European Portuguese allows null subjects and verb-subject orders, whereas Brazilian Portuguese does not. The progressive aspect is expressed in European Portuguese by estar a + infinitive (e.g. Ela está a dançar ‘She is dancing’), whereas in Brazilian Portuguese it is expressed by estar + gerund (e.g. Ela está dançando ‘She is dancing’). There are also phonological differences such as the patterns of vowel reduction in unstressed syllables, with the overall tendency for European Portuguese to reduce and even delete vowels where Brazilian Portuguese keeps them. So for the purposes of this thought experiment, let’s consider them different languages, albeit closely related ones. Our imaginary Martian would take note of the differences between the two kinds of Portuguese, as well as of the extensive similarities between them and would deduce—correctly, of course!—that both European and Brazilian Portuguese descend from a common ancestor. The question for our Martian is this: where was the linguistic homeland of this Proto-Portuguese? There are three theories that the Martian might reasonably advance: (a) that the homeland was in Europe, specifically in the western part of the Iberian Peninsula, where European Portuguese is spoken today, from which it would follow that it was brought over to Brazil by some later colonizers; (b) that the homeland was in Brazil, which would entail that European Portuguese emerged upon the arrival of Brazilian migrants to Europe; or (c) that the homeland was in some other location altogether, meaning that it was brought over to both the Iberian Peninsula and Brazil and did not survive in its original homeland. (The latter model has been proposed for the Austronesian languages, which are thought to have originated in coastal mainland China, although no Austronesian languages survive there.) In the absence of some strong evidence for theory (c), the Martian would probably decide in favor of either (a) or (b) as less convoluted hypotheses; and the fact that there are far more speakers of Portuguese in Brazil than in Europe might sway him in favor of theory (b). Of course, unlike the hypothetical Martian, we know from the historical record that theory (a) is the correct one.

Note, however, that it is impossible for the Proto-Portuguese homeland to be in both Europe and Brazil: separated by such a formidable geographical obstacle as the Atlantic Ocean, how would the speakers make and keep their language the same for any length of time? Because of the unrelenting linguistic change, whenever persistent and intensive contact between groups is not possible, their ways of speaking necessarily diverge. It should also be noted here that geographical separation is not the only factor that drives language diversification. Far more important is the factor of time. However geographically contiguous a linguistic territory is, “evolution will not be uniform throughout the territory but will vary from zone to zone,” Ferdinand de Saussure wrote in his Course in General Linguistics, “no records indicate that any language has ever changed in the same way throughout its territory.” (p. 199) A great example of such diversification in situ is the emergence of contemporary Irish Gaelic dialects in Ireland, described in the work of Jim McCloskey.

Going back to our original PIE homeland problem, the two main competitors for its location—the Pontic Steppes area in southern Russia and central Anatolia in what is now Turkey—may not seem as far apart as Portugal and Brazil, but several millennia ago the Black Sea that separates them presented as formidable a barrier to human travel as the Atlantic did in later times (see the work of Kate Davison and her colleagues: Davison et al. 2006). Therefore, it is not possible that PIE was spoken in the Steppes area and in Anatolia and did not diverge. Moreover, the two main competing theories place PIE not only in different locations but also at different times, differing by about 3,000 years. It is not possible for PIE to be spoken in Anatolia and then in exactly the same way in the Steppes area three millennia later (Anthony 2007 makes a similar argument).

One other point is crucial to stress: whatever solution one provides for any linguistic homeland problem, PIE homeland included, it does not deny that there were population movements before and after the postulated homeland—but these migration patterns, interesting though they may be, are irrelevant to the homeland problem. Going back to our Portuguese thought experiment, the fact that the speakers of European Portuguese came to the Iberian Peninsula from elsewhere in Europe some centuries earlier is no more relevant to the Proto-Portuguese homeland problem than the migration of their earlier ancestors from the Steppes 5,500 years ago (or Anatolia 8,500 years ago if you side with that theory), or the Out-of-Africa exodus of homo sapiens some 70,000 years ago. Nor are later migrations, such as the arrival of African slaves to Brazil, relevant to the Proto-Portuguese homeland problem. (Of course, the story of African immigrants who learned Portuguese as their second-language is very important for understanding some of the changes that occurred in Brazilian Portuguese, as compared to its European variant, but that is a different issue.)

As for the PIE debate, it is plausible that present-day Europeans descend from successive ways of migrants from different places: the pre-Neolithic inhabitants, as well as early Neolithic agriculturalists from Anatolia and later Neolithic arrivals from the Steppes—as genetic studies seem to indicate. However, only one of these groups could be the “vectors for the spread of Indo-European languages into Europe” (Haak et al. 2015), by definition.




Anthony, David W. (2007) The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Davison, Kate; Pavel Dolukhanov, Graeme R. Sarson, and Anvar Shukurov (2006) The role of waterways in the spread of the Neolithic. Journal of Archaeological Science 33: 641-652.

Haak, Wolfgang et al. (2015) Massive migration from the steppe is a source for Indo-European languages in Europe. Biorxiv Online.

Piazza, Alberto and Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza (2006) Diffusion of genes and languages in human evolution. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on the Evolution of Language. Pp. 255-266.

Saussure, Ferdinand de (1959) Course in General Linguistics. New York: Philosophical Library.

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  • KF Levin

    The Black Sea was not a quite so formidable barrier to people if the Yamnaya are half Armenian/Near Eastern genetically per Haak et al.

    • Possibly a founder effect. Continuing communication is something else entirely. See Davison et al. (reference in the post)

      • KF Levin

        A movement of Near Eastern people into the steppes (whether you call it gene flow, or founder event; there is no data whether it was continuous gene flow or a one-time event) seems perfectly compatible with early PIE in the Near East and post-Anatolian PIE on the steppes.

        • Except there is no solid evidence for “early PIE in the Near East”, with theories to this effect being largely disproven… Moreover, the entire post — which you didn’t seem to have read — is to show that the scenario of “early PIE in the Near East and post-Anatolian PIE on the steppes” is not possible…

          • Jonathan Gress

            I think what he might mean is that Archaic PIE would have been spoken in Anatolia, and then Early PIE spread north of the Black Sea to the steppe, from where the later splits east and west took place. Temporally it could work as long as you get Early PIE in the steppe by the time the wheel was invented, i.e. a Neolithic spread is still ruled out. But I don’t know if the archeology supports any such northward movement from Anatolia, and you still have all the pastoralist vocab that makes a steppe origin of Archaic PIE most likely.

          • Well, that would be the “Neolithic Plan B”, but it won’t work — it might have been some pre-PIE spoken in Anatolia, but as I said in the post, it is all besides the point of the PIE problem…

          • KF Levin

            How are they disproven? You have many languages and language families in ancient Near East (Hattic, Hurrian, Sumerian, Semitic, Indo-European, Elamite, to name a few). There is no way to “prove” that PIE was not spoken somewhere in the ancient Near East.

          • Very easily: it is proven that it was spoken somewhere else (far away, separated by geographical obstacles etc.).

        • ghostis

          seems perfectly compatible with early PIE in the Near East and post-Anatolian PIE on the steppes.
          And how do you explain the existence of the PIE word for “horse” *h1ek’wos in Anatolian (Luw. assuwa, Lyc. esbe)?
          There were no horses in the Near East until the late 3rd millenium BC. When the Sumerians first mention horses around 2200 BC, they call them “mountain donkeys” and “fast donkeys”.

    • Davidski

      The Yamnaya aren’t half Armenian. They can be modeled as half Armenian.

      But modern Armenians are mixed and probably in part of steppe origin. We can see this because they carry a strong signal of ancient Siberian ancestry, also known as ANE. So Yamnaya are not half Near Eastern.

      We don’t know when the Near Eastern ancestors of the Yamnaya arrived on the steppe, but it was definitely well before 3000 BC. It might have taken them a couple of thousand years to get there.

      • KF Levin

        Where are you getting that Armenians have a strong signal of Siberian or steppe ancestry? According to Haak et al. (2015), there is Near Eastern admixture into the steppe that is reducing the ANE ancestry, and both Armenians and Iraqi Jews work as a source.

        PIE is 6,500 years old (Chang et al. 2015), 1,500 years older than the Yamnaya of Haak et al. (2015). Everything matches: PIE in the Near East, Anatolian stays there, migration to the steppe 6,500 years ago and PIE(except Anatolian) from the steppe 5,000 years ago.

        • Jonathan Gress

          Well, linguistically the Armenians constitute a much later branch of Indo-European than Anatolian, so I’m not sure why we keep bringing them up. And my understanding was that the Yamnaya are not to be identified with PIE per se, but with the westward migration up the Danube that most likely constitute the Italo-Celtic branch of IE. That is, PIE should be identified with a culture ancestral to Yamnaya, not Yamnaya itself.

        • Except Chang et al.’s PIE includes Anatolian, and the Anatolian theory (e.g. Bouckaert et al.) place PIE some 3,000 earlier. So it doesn’t match!

          • KF Levin

            You are setting up a strawman (Renfrew’s theory) and knocking it down. A Near Eastern PIE homeland =/= Renfrew’s theory.

            Migration of Near Easterners to the steppe sometime between 8,000 and 5,000 years includes the 6,500 year time depth of PIE, so there is no problem there. Perfectly matches Anatolian speakers being Near Eastern, and the rest of IE from the steppe.

          • Ilya Zlatanov

            I am not sure the migration of Near Easterners to the steppe is proven. The migration could have been in the opposite direction: R1b bearers possibly migrated from steppes to the Near East. Typical Levantine groups like
            J1, J2a and E1b are practically absent in the steppe region. But this is about Y-DNA haplogroups, not about languages.

        • Davidski

          It’s obvious to anyone who’s looked closely at Armenian genotype data that they’re heavily admixed, like the vast majority of present-day Near Easterners.


          Where do you think they got their Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) ancestry and Y-DNA R?

          Modeling Yamnaya as part Armenian was actually a bit of a blunder by Haak et al.

          • KF Levin

            Where are you getting that Armenians have ANE or steppe ancestry? Is this your original research? I’m sorry, but I can’t follow your argument (if there is one) that they have such ancestry.

          • Davidski

            All pesent-day Near Easterners are admixed. They have ANE, Sub-Saharan and even South Asian ancestry that ancient Neolithic farmers lacked.

            ANE reaches its peak at the northern end of the Near East and in the Caucasus, so Armenians have one of the highest levels of ANE in the region.

            I know this not only by looking at Armenian genome-wide data directly, but also from scientific literature freely available online, such as…



            I can assure you that once you get your head around these issues, and realize that the modern Near East is not the ancient Near East, you will come to the conclusion that modeling Yamnaya as part Armenian is not the ideal solution, and that Yamnaya are unlikely to be 50% Near Eastern.

          • KF Levin

            Neither of these two references has anything on Armenians having ANE ancestry. Please cite page number if it is otherwise.

          • Davidski

            The first study I linked to clearly spells out that Armenians are a mixed population, and have ancestry from the steppe. The title of the study is: “Genetic evidence for an origin of the Armenians from Bronze Age mixing of multiple populations.”

            The second study very clearly argues that ANE has affected practically all of the Near East, but especially the northern end of the Near East. See supplementary information page 92, under the heading “High levels of Ancient North Eurasian ancestry in the Northeast Caucasus”.

            Are you really going to attempt to argue with me that Armenians are unadmixed and don’t have steppe ancestry after reading these two studies, just because the authors don’t say explicitly that Armenians have ANE ancestry?

            If so, then please explain how it is that Armenians, who came about from the Bronze Age mixing of multiple populations, and live in the Near East, where ANE is pervasive today, somehow managed to avoid acquiring ANE/steppe ancestry?

          • Davidski

            Obviously if ANE is found in almost all of the modern populations of the Near East, and especially those in and around the Caucasus, then it is found in Armenians. Only some Bedouins and Saudis don’t harbor any ANE. How can you not know this after reading the studies I linked to? Perhaps you didn’t understand what you were reading?

            Also, here is a quote from Haak et al. which suggests that Armenians are admixed, either with ancestry from the steppe, in fact from the Yamnaya, and/or Central Asia.

            “Modern Armenians have a signal of admixture from the Yamnaya, as when we test f3-statistics of the form f3(Armenian; Yamnaya, X) we find the lowest Z-score for f3(Armenian; Yamnaya, BedouinB) = -0.00296 (Z=-7.1). However, the lowest Z-score of statistics of the form f3(Armenian; X, Y) involves the (X, Y) = (LBK_EN, Sindhi) pair (value -0.00575, Z=-15.3), so the signal of admixture from the Yamnaya is not the strongest one for Armenians. Moreover, as shown in SI 7, the Yamnaya have a negative f3- statistic with (X, Y) = (Karelia_HG, Armenian). A negative statistic for both Armenians and Yamnaya with each other as a reference population may suggest that a third (unsampled) population admixed into both the Yamnaya and to Armenians.”

            Page 46.

          • Davidski

            Oh, by the way, Haak et al. estimate that the Near Eastern admixture event that produced the Yamnaya population in and near the Samara Valley took place 5,000-3,000 BC.

            However, the Samara Valley is far to the north of the Near East and the Caucasus. So this admixture event might have taken place at a more southerly location, and earlier than 5,000 BC.

  • John Cowan

    Another possibility (which I haven’t seen in the literature) would align the breakup of PIE with the Black Sea deluge hypothesis, which suggests that the Black Sea was a smaller fresh-water lake until about -5500, in which case it would be easy for a single language community to exist around it. Some of the missing physical evidence for wheels, chariots, and other IE-ish things might then be under the water in anoxic conditions, and thus potentially recoverable (though only with a much larger budget than anyone is likely to have). The flooding of the basin by the Med need not have been as quick as the term “deluge” suggests, however.

    In general, though, I think both linguists and archaeologists underestimate the extent to which open water is a roadway rather than a barrier. Americanists habitually treat the 58-km Bering Strait as a nearly insuperable barrier that could only be crossed in glacial times, forgetting that Polynesians with equally Neolithic technology routinely crossed thousands of km of open Pacific often enough to keep their languages almost identical for centuries. For that matter, though no dialect chain connects British with American English, there are plenty of individual isoglosses that ignore the Atlantic. The presence of non-rhotic varieties on the Eastern Seaboard and in the South can only be accounted for by continuing American-British interchange frequent enough to make non-rhoticity spread by elite dominance, since both sides were rhotic or mostly so at the time of initial settlement.

  • paul raicu

    Not a word of ubiquitous population of Altaic, Ugric, Finnic, Caucazian. In this euro-centric view there is free steppe highway only for so-called Indo-Europeans! Perhaps they were taken out of the equation because confuses accounts. We can only wait as that Martian, one day, take us out the deadlock…

    • Altaic is probably not a true family (and quite possibly a later arrival on the scene relevant for IE):


      As for Finno-Ugric and Caucasian language families, nobody takes them out of the equation. In fact, contact between PIE and these other families is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to determining the PIE homeland. This issue is discussed at length in chapter 9 of our forthcoming book:


      • paul raicu

        Simple facts:
        1. I can’t find a single word spread worldwide thru Indo-European languages (including Hittites and Armenians). Its hazardous to say all existing diversity come from a single ancient language.
        2. All today living IE languages are creole, but in my view the oldest written are creole, too…
        3. Searching a single ancestral language it’s a dead end, because I think was several initial languages who were mixed. That’s explain a multitude of synonyms existing into IE languages. The trick is to determine which word was into one particularly language.

        2015-03-01 3:23 GMT+02:00 Disqus :

        • You are not making any sense…

          • Ilya Zlatanov

            Could you please comment the statement of N.S. Trunetzkoy: There is no theoretic basis, suggesting a single
            Indo-European proto-language from which supposedly evolved all Indo-European
            languages. On the same basis
            we can assume the opposite picture of the development, that is, assume
            that the ancestors of the Indo-European
            branches were originally different from each other and only over time, through constant contact, mutual influence and borrowing they became much closer to each other. In http://www.philology.ru/linguistics1/trubetskoy-87d.htm

          • This idea didn’t withstand scrutiny: enough of PIE has been reconstructed to show the divergence rather than convergence. Cf. Altaic:


          • paul raicu

            Very logical approach.

          • You’ve fallen into the trap of the fallacy I discuss in a more recent post:


            … just because something MIGHT have happened doesn’t mean that it DID happen. In the case of Indo-European, it is indeed VERY CLEAR that there was one ancestral language, which has been reconstructed in great detail. If you think otherwise, you are simply blinding yourself to the facts.

          • paul raicu

            It’s a physically impossibility to have so diverse genetic people and all this to come from a single root. For example the people from Turks and Caicos Islands speak english, but genetically they are 88% Afro-Caribbean. They become culturally Indo-Europeans, but they are not native IE. The same happen in the vast land of Euro-Asiatic when interaction of various genetic people with different languages come into close contact each other. The Slavs from the Balkans represent all ancient native people who become slavic speakers under the influence of a minority elite originate from north Carpathian Basin. When we establish the genetic pool it is more easy to find so-called common homeland.

          • You’ve answered yourself: just as English in more recent times, Indo-European might very well have spread by language shift of other (genetically unrelated) groups from their indigenous languages to Indo-European. Which does not contradict the claim that linguistically there was a common origin and a homeland.

          • paul raicu

            I am not convinced of the common homeland, but I understand from this topic that Out of India Theory it’s out of question. The Harappa and Mohenjo Daro means nothing for the west euro-centric thinkers, probably they have the wrong skin color. But how on earth this Kurgan Theory trap too many scientists? West scientists. There no evidence that ancient latin, greek, geto-dacian or indo-aryan practice Kurgan ritual. The most common for those people was the incineration process. This habit are also present in ancient neolithic european and indo-aryan civilisation. The Kurgan savage was an ephemeral episode in indo-european history. That means no significant influence on development of languages of Indo-european population.

          • You seem to constantly equate language with culture or genes. It’s a fallacy. As for Out-of-India theory, we discuss it in the book, but no it’s not a serious contender. The only people promoting it are Indian nationalists. Their arguments do not hold water or pass mustard.

          • DaveB

            It’s not “pass mustard” it’s “pass muster”. Ha ha , maybe an auto-correct typo??

          • Ilya Zlatanov

            To be honest, I asked my tricky question on purpose. Physical origin /DNA-haplogroup/, culture, language and ethnicity are often mixed up. My

            cousins twice removed in Mont Real are native speakers of French, they have Canadian identity and the DNA analysis will prove their Balkan origin. Who are they? Although they know perfectly well that their granfather has come from the Greek town of Kastoria and he was native speaker of the local Slavic dialect, they will tell you they are Canadians. Even if the analysis find another origin, say, Vlach or Albanian, it will not change anything – they will go on speaking French and be Canadian

          • paul raicu

            Right! They become culturally canadians. To speak a IE language means to have a culturally common heritage. The same happened with the early neolithic farmer civilisation, they have a huge initial influence over hunter-gatherers of Steppe.

          • No! You really need to learn to dissociate language and culture. “To speak a IE language means to have a culturally common heritage” — what culturally common heritage do Icelanders have with southern Sri Lankans?

          • paul raicu

            Not too far as Sri Lankans, just one closer: what culturally common heritage do Icelanders have with daco-rumanian? The both speak IE languages, but Icelanders are direct descendants genetic and linguistic of Old Norse and daco-rumanian are just genetic with geto-dacian and linguistic with latin. Or so we are taught to believe…

          • So I think you’ve answered yourself now: they share linguistic heritage but not cultural heritage. The two do not go hand in hand. And neither does genetic heritage. As long as you tie all three together, you’ll only keep contradicting yourself.

          • paul raicu

            I am waiting for your book, but I am little disappointed. Why peaceful and creative civilisation of Danube and Indus Valley must disappear without a linguistic trace after shots of hands of thieves come from steppes?

          • You are disappointed with me? with the book you haven’t yet read? or with how things are in life? Because it’s rather typical for languages of nomadic herders to replace those of agriculturalists — it’s happened all over the world multiple times at different point in history. There’s a sensible explanation of this pattern, but you’ll have to wait for the book to come out 😉

          • paul raicu

            Thank you, I’ll wait…

          • jenny_brn

            Why are ordinary people (at least in my part of the world) so obsessed with their ethnicity while they conflate it with culture, genetic heritage and language.
            Why are they so concerned with their (assumed) history rather then the present and what they need to do to get on?
            Are some ethnicities really inferior to others? Will this inferiority have any influence on their future? These are some of the thoughts that engage my attention in my spare time. Wish I was a scholar but I am not (fortunately?)
            Anyway thanks for an interesting blog, although most of it is above and beyond by level of comprehension.

  • HC

    Just reread the post and all the comments… I like the homeland argument (well, it’s not a matter of liking, of course) but I’m not so fond of the Martian (used) in it. Chomsky did something similar to “prove” that despite superficial differences languages are basically and fundamentally quite alike. But, of course, you can have your Martian say or do anything, he/she/it is not in a position to contradict you in any way, is he/she/it?

    • Just because Chomsky used this device doesn’t mean it’s a bad one. But if it makes you feel better, you can imagine an Earthling who is ignorant of history, geography etc. — I am afraid it’s not hard to find such people…

  • ghostis

    Hi Asya,
    Can you make a post about the implausibility of the “Paleolithic Continuity Theory” (PCT);
    I am having discussions on the web and I see that a lot of people who still lack linguistic judgement think of it as an “equiprobable alternative” to the Steppe and Anatolian hypotheses, just because there’s a page about it in Wikipedia.
    Kind regards

    • Thanks, I might. Can you please send me a link to the discussion in question?

      • ghostis

        Certainly, I just hope your Greek is good enough. 🙂


        It is the first commentator who wanted to know why haven’t I mentioned PCT in my post ( I simply presented the Anatolian and Steppe hypotheses and then I outlined the advantages of the second) and he gave me this link:

        I’ve tried to explain to him that if the wheel vocabulary makes the Anatolian 7000 BC date implausable one time, then the PCT becomes twice implausible (one must explain not only the common wheel vocabulary but also the common neolithic/secondary products vocabulary). Not only that, but at least the Anatolian hypothesis recognizes an Urheimat, meanwhile PCT does not even recognize that. It simply tells us that the wind blows and for some reason … distant languages acquire morphological, grammatical and lexical similarities.

        • Thanks for the links. I was reading Alinei’s page this morning. I am writing a post trying to explain this PCT issue — hopefully to be posted later today or tomorrow. Feel free to link to it in the discussion you’ve been part of.

          And I love your description “the wind blows…” — that just summarizes nicely some of that thinking…

          • ghostis

            I’ll be waiting for your post, take your time, there’s no rush.

            From what I see, people cannot simply realize the validity of the common wheel/vehicle vocabulary.

            I have tried to make an example with the “hard disk” vocabulary, when each IE branch had to translate english “Hard Disk” independently. There are not 2 branches that have used the same IE root for “hard” and there’s not even one branch where a single IE root was used by all it’s language members.

            1) English “hard” goes back to IE *kert-
            2) Greek σκληρός goes back to IE *skelh1-
            3) German used the term Festplattenlaufwerk

            4) In the Baltic branch, Lithuanian used the term Standusis Diskas (I think it can go back to a nasal infix of IE *steh2-), meanwhile Latvian used the term Cietais disks (IE *keit- like proto-slavic *čitŭ = “wholw, intact”)

            5) In the Italic/Romance branch, Italian has rendered “hard disk” as disco rigido (< latin rigidus < *reig'-), meanwhile French has rendered it as disque dur (< latin durus < IE *dweh2ros).

            6) In the Slavic branch 3 different adjectives have been used:

            -South Slavic and Ukrainian have used the adjective *twĭrdŭ from IE *twer-.

            – Czech and Slovak have used the adjective "Pevny"

            – Russian has used the adjective "žóstkij"

            Not even a single shared IE root between 2 branches and not even a single homogeneous response within one branch.

            And yet 6 branches share the very same root *h2ek's- for "axle", 4 branches share the reduplicated root *kwe/o-kwlos "wheel" and Greek and Tocharian have used the root *h2em- "hold" (out of 7 possible roots with the meaning "hold") to form the term *h2em-h2ek's-ih2 "chassis, axle-holder".

            And you keep hearing people saying "no big deal, the common wheel vocabulary could have been formed independently" …

          • Here’s the link to my post, just published:


            A nice example with “hard disk” — it is indeed hard to argue with people who don’t know and don’t care about the findings of historical linguistics (when done properly). I’ve noticed a really weird claim in that Alinei’s website about Chomskian linguistics: he really doesn’t seem to understand it (before he chooses to criticize it). But I’ve left that matter to another post…

          • ghostis

            Thank you very much Asya, I’ll add your post to my discussion.
            Kind Regards

          • Oh, thank YOU!