Research on the Structure of Indo-European Dialect Continuum by Comparing Swadesh Lists of the Closest Descendant Languages

Introduction. This article is an attempt to extract information about the interactions of dialects of the Indo-European dialect continuum with each other using a comparative analysis of the basic vocabularies of some Indo-European (IE) descendant languages. The search for external borrowings and influence of a common substrate would help to clarify the ethno-linguistic surrounding of the area where the IE proto-dialects developed. In turn, these data are actual being pro and contra arguments of the well-known hypotheses about the IE ancestral home. Methodology and sources. The number of mutually understandable basic lexemes taken in relation to the number of lexemes in the compared lists was chosen as a measure of the interaction of IE dialects, indicators of their commonality. 207-word Swadesh lists of 12 languages in their possibly more ancient states were analysed. For geographical binding of the IE language areal we have selected cross-borrowings from/to neighboring / substrate non-IE languages, the ancient settlement areas of native speakers of which are considered well-known. Results and discussion. The results of the comparison of the basic vocabularies of 12 IE languages have been interpreted in the form of a graph demonstrating the relative location of areas of the corresponding IE dialects. Lexemes meaning 'predator (bear, lion, etc.)', 'cattle (bull, ox)' determined the ethno-linguistic surrounding of the IE areal. Conclusion. The relevant linguistic data permitted to identify in the IE dialect continuum the core of proto-dialects: Baltic, Slavic, Aryan and Italic – and partially superimposed dialect subcontinua: – Balto-Greco-Aryo-Tocharo-Anatolian subcontinuum in the northern part of the IE areal; – Tocharo-Celto-Germanic subcontinuum in the eastern part; – Germano-Celto-Italo-Greco-Armeno-Baltic subcontinuum in the southern part; – Balto-Slavo-Italo-Aryan subcontinuum in the western part. The representation of the Proto-IE areal as a dialect continuum solves a number of difficulties inherent in the most common model of a single IE proto-language.

Authors: Telezhko G. M.

Direction: Linguistics

Keywords: Indo-European, Uralic, Altaic, Semitic, adstrate, substrate, languages, dialects, Anatolians, Illyrians, Thracians, Armenians, Celts, Germans, Balts, Slavs, Italic people

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