Sanskritization: A Model of Language Development

The process of Sanskritization is evident not only in the languages of North India that appear to derive from it, but also in the many Sanskrit loan words found in Dravidian languages, including Tamil.

The Current Indo-European Model: The Migration of the Proto-Indo-Europeans

The primary model used today for explaining the close relationships that exist between Indo-European languages is a migration theory. It proposes a Proto-Indo-European people who spread their language by a process of migration from an original primitive homeland. According to this view, as the Indo-European people moved in different directions, their language changed in predictable ways that can be traced back to their parent tongue, native culture and original environment.

The Proto-Indo-Europeans are usually defined racially as a European ethnic type, though not all scholars accept that they were of one race only. Their homeland-which is the subject of much debate-is placed in various regions including Eastern Europe, Anatolia, Central Asia and Western China, in short, at almost every point in the Indo-European world. From there, a migration is proposed over a period some centuries, if not millennia, to the parts of the world from India to Ireland where Indo-European languages came to be spoken by the first millennium BCE. The beginning of these migrations is proposed from as early as 7000-4000 BCE, reaching areas like India in 1500 BCE and Ireland as late as 500 BCE.

These migrating Indo-Europeans are often popularly called Aryans. However, we should recognize that this term does not reflect the original Sanskrit meaning of Arya, which has no racial or linguistic connotation but simply means noble or refined. These so-called Aryans were said to have taken their language with them, which explains the connections between Indo-European tongues like how the trunk of a tree creates various branches. The theory proposes that Indo-European languages share a substratum of common terms that reflect the conditions of their original homeland. Linguists have endeavored to recreate the original Indo-European language (PIE or Proto-Indo-European) spoken there. They find common words that indicate a homeland in a northern region of birch trees and salmon, far from any ocean. While it is impossible verify such a language, even dictionaries of it have been created as if it were a real language that was spoken once.

We can call this a “migration model” of language, with the migrants at a later time militant invaders, bringing their language with them and imposing it on existing populations.

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