Into The Origins of European Languages

Page last updated: Jan 10, 2018 @ 1:58 pm

Useful chart for Indo-European languages

According to

The Indo-European languages are a family of related languages that today are widely spoken in the Americas, Europe, and also Western and Southern Asia. Just as languages such as Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian are all descended from Latin, Indo-European languages are believed to derive from a hypothetical language known as Proto-Indo-European, which is no longer spoken.

It is highly probable that the earliest speakers of this language originally lived around Ukraine and neighbouring regions in the Caucasus and Southern Russia, then spread to most of the rest of Europe and later down into India. The earliest possible end of Proto-Indo-European linguistic unity is believed to be around 3400 BCE.

— end of citation —

Spread of Slavic Languages


Interesting. So the people that spoke a language which served as a foundation for basically all the European languages (and beyond) lived on the territories of modern day Ukraine and surrounding regions, at least according to migration theory. It is no wonder then that Slavic languages expanded and diversified to cover “over 50% of the territory of Europe.” [Wikipedia]



Let’s pull up a brief historical summary on Ukraine (prior to conversion to Christianity):

Neanderthal settlement in Ukraine is seen in the Molodova archaeological sites (43,000–45,000 BC) which include a mammoth bone dwelling. The territory is also considered to be the likely location for the human domestication of the horse.

Cucuteni-Trypillian culture

Modern human settlement in Ukraine and its vicinity dates back to 32,000 BC, with evidence of the Gravettian culture [stone tools] in the Crimean Mountains.

By 4,500 BC, the Neolithic [farming] Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture flourished in a wide area that included parts of modern Ukraine including Trypillia and the entire Dnieper-Dniester region [the largest settlements in Neolithic Europe].

[The name Cucuteni-Trypillian comes from the names of modern day geographic locations of Cucuteni in Romania and Trypillia in Ukraine where the artifacts of this ancient civilization were first discovered.]

A short video about Cucuteni-Trypillian Civilization:
Trypillian symbols
Cucuteni videos and pictures from Romania

[A large part of Ukraine was also inhabited by Yamna culture and predecessor cultures collectively called Kurgan who are believed to have been the carriers of the initial Proto-Indo-European language. One theory for the demise of Trypillian culture is that it was overrun or absorbed by the expanding Yamnas. An alternative or additional theory is that primarily agrarian Trypillian culture demised due to climate change! This could have been the very factor that also motivated members of the neighboring Yamna culture to set-off in different directions in search for better conditions. Members of the Trypillain culture may have simply been forced to abandon their way of life and convert into a nomadic culture.]

Demise of Trypillian culture: In the 1990s and 2000s, another theory regarding the end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture emerged based on climatic change that took place at the end of their culture’s existence that is known as the Blytt–Sernander Sub-Boreal phase. Beginning around 3200 BC, the earth’s climate became colder and drier than it had ever been since the end of the last Ice age, resulting in the worst drought in the history of Europe since the beginning of agriculture. [Anthony, David W. (2007). The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-05887-0.] The Cucuteni-Trypillian culture relied primarily on farming, which would have collapsed under these climatic conditions… — end of citation —

During the Iron Age [around 1200 BC to 600 BC], the land was inhabited by Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians.

Between 700 BC and 200 BC it was part of the Scythian Kingdom, or Scythia [considered Iranian].

Beginning in the 6th century BC, colonies of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and the Byzantine Empire, such as Tyras, Olbia and Chersonesus, were founded on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea. These colonies thrived well into the 6th century AD. The Goths [Germanic people] stayed in the area but came under the sway of the Huns from the 370s AD.

In the 7th century AD, the territory of eastern Ukraine was the centre of Old Great Bulgaria. At the end of the century, the majority of Bulgar tribes migrated in different directions, and the Khazars took over much of the land.


Kievan Rus’

Kievan Rus’ was founded by the Rus’ people, who came from Scandinavia across Ladoga and settled in Kiev around 880 AD. Kievan Rus’ included the central, western and northern part of modern Ukraine, Belarus, far eastern strip of Poland and the western part of present-day Russia. According to the Primary Chronicle the Rus’ elite initially consisted of Varangians [Vikings] from Scandinavia.

During the 10th and 11th centuries, it became the largest and most powerful state in Europe. It laid the foundation for the national identity of Ukrainians and Russians. Kiev, the capital of modern Ukraine, became the most important city of the Rus’.

The Varangians later assimilated into the Slavic population and became part of the first Rus’ dynasty, the Rurik Dynasty. Kievan Rus’ was composed of several principalities ruled by the interrelated Rurikid knyazes (“princes”), who often fought each other for possession of Kiev.

The Golden Age of Kievan Rus’ began with the reign of Vladimir the Great (980–1015), who turned Rus’ toward Byzantine Christianity.

— end of Wikipedia citation —

Ukraine indeed has quite a bit of history with a continuous development and clash of different cultures and civilizations. It is a wonder as to what kind of history and migration theories did the Nazis rely on in formulating their race ideology. How was the view justified that it was the Germanic people specifically that were the “master race” when there may not have even been a Germanic language group just a few thousand years ago? According to Encyclopedia Britannica on Germanic Languages:

The earliest historical evidence for Germanic is provided by isolated words and names recorded by Latin authors beginning in the 1st century BCE. From approximately 200 CE there are inscriptions carved in the 24-letter runic alphabet.

It is a similar picture when looking at Nordic language group in general [Wikipedia]:

Proto-Norse (also Proto-Scandinavian, Primitive Norse, Proto-Nordic, Ancient Nordic, Ancient Scandinavian, Old Nordic, Old Scandinavian, Proto-North Germanic, North Proto-Germanic, Common Scandinavian), was an Indo-European language spoken in Scandinavia that is thought to have evolved as a northern dialect of Proto-Germanic over the first centuries CE. It is the earliest stage of a characteristically North Germanic language, and the language attested in the oldest Scandinavian Elder Futhark inscriptions (runic alphabet), spoken ca. [circa] from the 2nd to 8th centuries (corresponding to the late Roman Iron Age and the Germanic Iron Age). It evolved into the dialects of the Old Norse language, at the beginning of the Viking Age about AD 800, which later themselves evolved into modern North Germanic languages.

And what about Proto-Germanic which preceded Proto-Norse?

Proto-Germanic developed from pre-Proto-Germanic into three branches during the first half of the first millennium of the Common Era: West Germanic, East Germanic and North Germanic

Let’s compare this to Proto-Slavic:

Wikipedia starts by saying that it “represents Slavic speech approximately from the 5th to 9th centuries AD” which is a period close to the founding of Kievan Rus right before conversion to Byzantine Christianity which implemented Greek based alphabet [Cyrillic] in order to write a Bible in a form of spoken language that was used by Slavs. This is probably so that it could be read by someone already familiar with Greek letters (i.e. foreign ministers and new converts who were going to disseminate Christianity to Slavs), but in a phonetic language that would be understood by Slavs. But then Wikipedia goes into further details:

Proto-Slavic is divided into periods. One division is made up of three periods:

– Early Proto-Slavic (until 1000 BC)
– Middle Proto-Slavic (1000 BC–0 AD)
– Late Proto-Slavic (1st–6th century)

[original citation: Savel Kliachko (1968). The sharpness feature in Slavic. Dept. of Slavic Languages and Literatures. p. 57.]

1000BC? So Slavic language group was earlier than Germanic? Perhaps the most direct evidence to that could be a striking similarity of many root words between Sanskrit [the language of Vedic texts] which dates to at least 1,500 BC and even modern day Russian (and other Slavic languages). Sanskrit is placed within the Indo-European language group.

Here is an interesting article from an Indian source discussing similarities between Russian and Sanskrit while trying to slide in an implication that southern tribes spread their culture up North, while migration theory would seem to suggest otherwise – that Northern tribes spread South (looking for warmer areas?), instead of the other way around. It should be noted, that it would be much easier for a developing human consciousness to adopt going from North to South than going from South to North where the climate is colder and more cyclical requiring the development of specialized knowledge to survive during cold periods of four season environment (requiring knowledge for special clothing, housing, food preservation, etc.).  [Here is a blog post with similar information and a more extensive word list.]

According to

The Vedas are a collection of hymns and other religious texts composed in India between about 1500 and 1000 BCE. It includes elements such as liturgical material as well as mythological accounts, poems, prayers, and formulas considered to be sacred by the Vedic religion.

The origin of the Vedas can be traced back as far as 1500 BCE, when a large group of nomads called the Aryans, coming from central Asia, crossed the Hindu Kush Mountains, migrating into the Indian subcontinent. This was a large migration and used to be seen as an invasion. This invasion hypothesis, however, is not unanimously accepted by scholars today. All we know for certain, mainly through linguistic studies, is that the Aryan language gained ascendency over the local languages in the Indian sub-continent. The language of the Vedas is Sanskrit, an ancestor of most of the modern languages spoken today in South Asia.

Think about it. A structurally developed language with sophisticated writing system whose words share many commonalities with some modern Slavic languages already existed as early as 1500BCE – that’s when Ancient Greek was just coming into existence []:

Starting from a foreign script known as Linear A (used in Crete to record a native language known as Minoan), the Greeks devised, toward 1500 bce at the latest, a syllabic script to record their own language. Known as Linear B, this script was deciphered in 1952 by the British architect Michael Ventris and the British classicist and linguist John Chadwick.

Perhaps the clearest general understanding of language development comes from this article scrutinizing the theorized existence of a Proto-Balto-Slavic language:

The first scholar to reject the Baltic and Slavic unity (and, thus, the assumed proto-language, Balto-Slavic) was the famous linguistic genius of France, Antoine Meillet. At the beginning of this century, Professor Meillet, in several of his epoch-making publications proclaimed the notion that the few apparent similarities between Baltic and Slavic are simply either mutual, or one-way, influences upon each other, and that other similarities are simply results of parallel but independent developments whose primary origins most probably go back to the very Proto-Indo-European itself.

. . .

b) Meillet understood one basic fact: since both groups — Baltic and Slavic — are quite conservative and archaic, they both have preserved, even until the present day, many a feature inherited directly from Proto-Indo-European, features which most of the other living Indo-European languages have lost. Let us mention in this connection a simple example.

When someone who is not a trained historical linguist sees that in Lithuanian the words “when” and “then” are kada and tada and that these same words are in Russian kokda and togda (pronounced: kagda, tagda), he usually jumps to a hasty, but perhaps understandable, conclusion: „Gee whiz, Lithuanian and Russian are very similar, and they sound alike.” But this person usually does not know that in Old Indie (Sanskrit) the very same words are also kada and tada! And one can find hundreds of similar examples.

. . .

Meillet was the first to point out that there never had been one common ancestor, “Proto-Balto-Slavic,” but that Baltic separately and Slavic in its turn, also separately, developed directly from Proto-Indo-European. The few similarities which Meillet believed could be found between Baltic and Slavic were to him either a) inherited (or preserved) from Proto-Indo-European or b) parallel, but separate developments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *