THE PALEOLITHIC CONTINUITY PARADIGM
FOR THE ORIGINS OF INDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGES
An Introduction in progress
Last Updating: May 2012
by Mario Alinei
.... (IV) On the steppes of Eastern Europe, a conspicuous and well-known Neolithic-Chalcolithic frontier separates the farming cultures of Bug-Dnestr, Tripolye AI, Tripolye AII, Gorodsk-Usatovo, Corded Ware and Globular Amphora in Ukraine, from the pastoral, horse-raising and horse-riding cultures of Sursk-Dnepr, Dnepr-Donec, Seredny Stog/Chvalynsk, Yamna (kurgan!) and Catacombs, in the Pontic steppes: this is the frontier that moved Marija Gimbutas to envisage the epochal clash between the peaceful autochthonous non-IE farmers of the "Old Europe", and the warlike intrusive IE who submerged them. In the light of the PCP and of the available linguistic evidence, instead, this frontier corresponds to an earlier linguistic phylum frontier between an already separated and flourishing eastern Slavic population of farmers to the West, and warlike Turkic pastoral nomadic groups to the East, which would be responsible, among other things, of the two innovations of horse raising and horse-riding.
Linguistically, the new interpretation has the advantage of explaining (A) the antiquity and the quantity of Turkic loanwords precisely for horse terminology in both branches of Samoyed, in the Ugric languages, as well as in Slavic languages, and (B), more generally, the quantity of Turkic agro-pastoral terms in South-Eastern European languages, including Hungarian, which would have been brought into its present area precisely by the kurgan culture (Alinei 2003a).
Interestingly, the uninterrupted continuity of Altaic steppe cultures, from Chalcolithic to the Middle Ages, can be symbolized precisely by the kurgan themselves: for on the one hand, the custom of raising kurgans on burial sites has always been one of the most characteristic features of Altaic steppe nomadic populations, from their first historical appearance to the late Middle Ages. On the other, the Russian word kurgan itself is not of Russian, or Slavic, or IE, origin, but a Turkic loanword, with a very wide diffusion area in Southern Europe, which closely corresponds to the spread of the kurgan culture (Alinei 2000a, 2003).
Notice that this phylum frontier between IE (Slavic) and Turkic in the course of history has been pushed to the East, leaving however Turkic minorities, as well as innumerable Turkic place names and other linguistic traces behind.