A different post: First [Medit. basin] farmers planted the seeds of [Eng.] lang.
- This is only scientists hypothesis or parsimonious theory and only
one plausible piece of a possible puzzle, maybe true, it would
explain many more already plausibly described pieces of the possible
puzzle into a clearer picture! Of course these Turkish Farmers
metioned were not Farmers in Fukuoka's sense - Shizen nouhou hito -
Natural Food Growing people - they are agriculturalist in the sense
of plowing the soil. What do each of you readers take this to mean,
Kindness or Blessings, depending on your cosmology,
Jyaa-ne (See-ya in Japanese)
See the fairly equable Sydney Paper-
and the Boston Globe for the original.
December 1, 2003
At last the answer in black and white, or beltz and zuri if you
happen to be Basque, or noir and blanc, if you are French: you owe
the words to Hittite-speaking farmers from Anatolia, who invented
agriculture and spread their words as they sowed their seed 9500
Languages, like people, are related. Russell Gray, of Auckland
University, reports in the magazine Nature that he and a colleague
decided to treat language as if it was DNA and compared selected
words from 87 languages to build an evolutionary tree of the Indo-
European languages. This could help solve an old argument: who
picked up the original language and began to spread gradually
evolving versions of it across Europe and Asia?
For decades the focus has been on a tribe of nomad herders called
the Kurgans from central Asia, who domesticated the horse 6000 years
ago and invaded Europe.
"It [language] spread not by the sword of conquest, but by the
plough," Dr Gray said.
Others have argued that the Indo-European family of languages must
have spread with barley and lentils - the first agriculturalists in
the Fertile Crescent would have exported not just their techniques,
but also the words that went with them.
Dr Gray chose 2449 words from 87 languages, including English,
Lithuanian, Gujarati, Romany, Walloon, Breton, Hindi and
Pennsylvania Dutch, and began a series of comparisons to build up a
pattern of descent.
The choice of words was critical. "For example, English is a
veritable fruit salad of a language, with chunks of vocabulary from
the Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Vikings, Normans, and
slices of Latin, French, Greek, and Italian tossed with some more
recent garnishes from Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Hindi. There is
even the odd Polynesian borrowing, like tattoo," he said.
"Ninety nine per cent of words in the Oxford English Dictionary are
in fact borrowings from other languages."
But English has a basic vocabulary of 200 words - star, dog, earth,
blood, woman, year and so on - that can be linked to an original
The answer is that words were on the move long before horses. Dr
Gray's language tree ended with its roots in Anatolia in modern
Turkey about 7500BC, when villagers speaking a form of Hittite
kindled pahhur, or fire, to boil watar, or water, before setting out
on pad, or foot, to spread the good word.
Dr Gray was trained as a biologist, not a linguist, which some
scientists said could explain the generally cautious reception this
week's announcement in Nature received from linguists.
"Partly, I think they are irritated," said Luigi Luca Cavalli-
Sforza, an expert on historic population migrations and a professor
emeritus at Stanford Medical School.
"It is a very good paper."
The Guardian, The Boston Globe