Re: The Dravidian Salesman

From: x99lynx@...
Message: 13048
Date: 2002-04-06

"vijinuk" <vij@...> wrote:
<<The latest buzzword used by some Indologists to explain the spread of vedic
Sanskrit into Dravidian/Munda/Language-X (one is not completely sure of that
even) speakers is Ehret's 'elite kit' and not economic dominance. Of course
'Elite kit' comes close to prestige effect.>>

Even economic interaction (or even economic dominance), though a strong
enough motivator, may only account for some borrowings and some cultural
influence. An example of another factor might be technological interaction
(which may include new techniques involving anything from basket-weaving to
animal-breeding to weapon-making to wine-making to salt-making, etc.) Such
interactions could promote terminological exchange that we might find
difficult to recognize, because we don't always know the details of these

In any case, why would we assume that such transfers would have anything to
do with "elites." Even terms of social status do not have to start as elite
words. "King" may have started as a word in the mouths of commoners.

"Elite kit" presumes a top-down influence that may not in fact accurately
describe the points of either initial contact or influence. Why couldn't
indigenous "elite" be the last to come over, being presumably the most
invested in the established culture?

The interaction between two cultures is a complex matter that can vary a good
deal over time. Again, it may be our need to simplify and to round off
complex numbers that creates such concepts as "elite kit" - as if it all was
just like making instant coffee. Just add Dravidians.

"vijinuk" <vij@...> wrote:
<<In this scenario, it is not due to mere commercial transactions, but the
elite of the non-aryan speakers "going aryan" wholesale , not just for
language, but in a whole range of cultural, spiritual and technological
matters. Once the elite get aryanised -not just linguistically-, it quickly
spreads among the non-elite non-aryans. Who were these aryans whom others
were so eagar to imitate; it was a 'lost tribe' from the wilds of Afghanistan
who lost their way and stayed on in India speaking RV sanskrit>>

Along with everything else that might prompt someone to adopt a whole or part
of another culture, there is the totally unmeritorious factor of fashion.
Fashion is like random mutations in evolution, it has no justification but
dumb luck. There are "cowboys bars" in the US and elsewhere where patrons
with no "cowboy" heritage at all adopt the dress and dialect of 19th Century
cattle herders who often couldn't read, write or hold their liquor. Perhaps
the same kind of mixture of capricious fashion, myth and fact made someone
back then want to act like an Aryan.

But, if we were to look for some less capricious reason for the influence of
I-A, perhaps we should look to some by-product of the neolithic revolution,
per Andrew Sherratt. Panini said that Kapisa in Afghanistan was famous for
its wine. A web site says that the Tantras call wine "the Supreme Being in
liquid form..." Perhaps the "Aryans" brought a brand new technology (and a
trade) that was quite capable of turning a whole culture upside down because
of its strong but quite democratic effect on elites and non-elites alike.
Perhaps it only took one new concept, a kind of "non-elite kit". In liquid

Steve Long