Re: Greek wanax and basileus: A final solution finally? :P

From: Mark DeFillo
Message: 7466
Date: 2001-06-04

I find myself rather confused and perturbed by a general assumption that
physical distance between peoples precludes a connection between their
languages. This comes up here in the issue of whether it is reasonable to
find links between Khattic and Greek, and in many other situations. To me,
it sounds like scholars are vastly underestimating the capabilities of
pre-modern people, just like those who find it mysterious that ancient
people could lift heavy stones, building pyramids, megaliths, etc. (These
things are not hard, craftsmen working with only hand tools, can do them
still, there is no mystery.) Similarly, to assume that distance precludes
contact is a major underestimation. It is worth remembering that several
ancient IndoEuropean peoples specifically had the custom of travelling long
distances particularly for religious purposes, both sages and pilgrims. This
custom continues to this day in India. And even the most "primitive" (ie
non-technological, civilized, settled) people do the same thing... in
Australian Aboriginal traditional religion, the holy sites that the men of a
tribe were/are responsible for are often very far from their home area, so
that they would (I don't know if they still do) often go on journeys of
weeks or even months, entirely on foot, to perform their sacred duties.

Possibilities prove nothing, of course, but it still seems foolhardy to me
to ignore, eliminate, or discount the possibility of cultural and linguistic
contact even across a considerable distance. Let us give our predecessors
and ancestors due credit for what they could do without the awesome
technology at our disposal. For that matter, there are still many people
today to whom my current action of communicating simultaneously with people
in many distant lands would be unimaginable.

I hope this did not seem off-topic: my intent is to question what has seemed
to me (and tell me if you think I'm wrong that the assumption is made) a
flaw in basic assumptions behind linguistic research.

Hoping this is helpful,
Mark DeFillo
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