An Indian paradox

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by rcscwc, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Greeks did not influence Indian language or culture much. They were finally assimilated and their Greek identity is no more. They did not influence Buddhism evem.
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Not directly. But to the extent that modern India has been assimilating European culture since the British conquest, and continues to do so as a free country, it is Greco-Roman civilization from which they are picking and choosing the motifs to be assimilated.
    Are you referring to the Greek people??? They have a deeper and stronger continuity to their own classical past than any other European nation.

    Modern Greek has diverged less from its classical form than any other European language. Any reasonably well-educated Greek citizen can read the original writings of Aristotle and Aeschylus, and until about thirty years ago all university classes were taught in Ancient Greek. (I have a friend who studied there in the 1970s.)

    As for culture, well sure Greece was conquered first by the Romans and later by the Ottomans, but that never broke their ties to the Classical Era. Like all Europeans they were converted to Christianity, but they never forgot their legends of Zeus and Hera, and they can all tell you in great detail about Persephone, Medusa, Helen of Troy and the Muses.
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  5. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Fraggle, you can be so adamant. Greeks continue in their original land. Greek has not changed mucvh since last 2500 years so. But even in their native their old culture, religion etc are no more. Not as living and vibrant belief systems. But yes, Greek language did show longevity, but then lots of biblical and philosophical works inn that language. But in India, there is no independent Greek ID. Is it so hard to realise?

    Greeks did not cause revolutionary and radical changes to Indian culture.

    But the paradox.
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I did not say that there is.
    I did not say that they did. My point was that a significant portion of Indian culture is British, a majority of British culture is Roman, and a major portion (if not a majority) of Roman culture is Greek. Therefore there is considerable Greek influence on Indian culture, even though it is indirect.

    But what I was responding to was your statement:
    It is not correct to assert that the Greek people have been assimilated and have lost their Greek identity. Their identity has more continuity and less foreign influence than any other European nation.
  8. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Fraggle, I never said that Greeks are no more visible elsewhere, but in India not.

    How is Indian culture British culture? Come on man, Indian culture was never overhelmed by the British. Have the Indians taken to British way of life? If you think so, then you just do not know India. Some colonial style buildings, some churches etc are what you think is British culture stamped on India. Have they given up turban in favour of hats, Saris and salawar suits in favour of skirts? Have our traditional dresses been a thing of the past? Have our languages died out? Even those who speak English do know one or more Indian languages. Have started praying and conducting rites/rituals in English? Have they given up mgreeting each other with NAMASTE?
  9. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Those seals were personal or commercial seals, modern day rubber stamps, if you please. Such seals would not have too many words/letters/characters. Then some opf them can be quite criptic too, like Indian official postal stamps having O. I. G. S. written on them. Surely, for someoneone who stumbles on a cache of them 2000 years would be floored.

    Those seals were mostly of baked clay and lasted longer. Other lengthier documents were on perishable media like palm leaves, bhojapatra [very costly] etc.

    Let us say the oldest written records are from 700 BCE. Surely, writing system would be much, much older. No?
  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    Its hard to tell really. One of the points which support written records - in my opinion - is the diversity of commerce in those societies. More than literature or scriptures, it is the day to day transaction and record keeping of commerce which begs literacy. Do you know about any commercial records apart from the seals? You mentioned the secret trade words used by business people. Imagine my surprise when I realised that in a Gujarati clothing store the "secret" trade words used were Arabic in origin. I asked them if they had learned Arabic and they had not. But then I remembered that there are many Arabic immigrants in Gujarat which has a history of trading with Arabs which could explain why they were using Arabic trade words.
  11. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Here you suddenly change your tack. Earlier writing did not survive, because it was on perishable media. Mariginalised culture is your surmise only. One thing is sure. India always had higher population densities than the central asia. Their sheer numbers just could not be replaced or marginalised except by large scale genocides, for which there just is no evidence. No wonder Aryan Invasion Theory has long been dead.

    Sheer volume of Aryan literature indicates that it was the product of many centuries, not 6 or 7. After all, a sophisticated langusge like even the proto Sanskrit [medium of Rig Veda and much other literature] had to developed. Not a project of a few years, surely. RV itself is large, then thousands of pages of Brahmans, and Aryankas too are there, almost all in archaic Sanskrit. They were never re-edited in post Panini Sanskrit. Presence of these texts in archain Sanskrit just cannot be explained by invading/migrating Aryans marginalising the "originl" culture. Moreover, it is yet to be settled that IVC seals ARE NOT in Sanskrit. Only break throughs point to their language being Sanskrit variant.

    Come on. Anglo saxons, caucasians destroyed not revitalised the earlier culture. Greeks hardly changed the Indian culture, but got assimilated within 300-400 years.
  12. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Don't mix up language with religion. Pakistan's language is not Turkish or some central Asian origin. They too speak urdu, Sindhi etc.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2011
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I didn't say that it was, so please forgive me if I unwittingly gave that impression. Urdu is an official language of Pakistan (perhaps its primary official language), an Indic language and therefore Indo-European. Outside of India and Pakistan (and perhaps inside--this is a topic that may have political overtones I'm not qualified to comment on), linguists regard Hindi and Urdu as two dialects of a single intercomprehensible language which is called either Hindustani or, more awkwardly but also more precisely, Hindi-Urdu.
  14. Elterish Guest

    There are a lot of Turkic names all over Asia, esp. Indian subcontinent, Central Asia and China.
    For instance In Pakistan, the Karakorum Highway, 'karakorum' means 'black rock' in Turkish.
    In China it passes Mt. Muztagh Ata, which in Turkic is 'father of snowy mountains'.

    'Khan', 'Khatun', 'Khanum', familiar in Pakistan are Turkic names.

    The Turks spread from eastern Asia to central Asia in the late 6th century CE.

    In the middle of 10th century CE, some of their tribes converted to Islam.

    It was shortly after that when they spread southwards and westwards.
  15. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    They are part of some muslim names, exclusively muslims, in India.
  16. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    URDU means MILITARY. Urdu language developed about 400 years ago in Mughal army of India. It is/was mostly Hindi, complete with grammar, but written in Persian script. It is not of Turkic origin even remotely.

    It is official language of Pakistan. But Sindi, Pushto and Punjabi are other major languages spoken and understood widely in Pakistan. None is Turkic.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2011
  17. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Fraggle, you digress. Mughals do not matter in ancient Indian literature. No one has so far explained a few things, simple though they should be.

    #1 If Aryans were really invaders/migrants [barbaric to boot], what happened to make them develope an advanced language Sanskrit?

    #2. How come these illiterate barbians in a few centuries produced copius tomes like Rig Veda. RV is in proto Sanskrit and fortunately never was redacted into Panini grammar. Even proto Sanskrit is miles ahead of other contemprary languages. Inclde the body of literature like Brahmans, Aranykas, Upnishads. A mind bogglingly large larger literature. In fact much larger than all the contemporary literatures put together. Then again consider that Upanishds are not prayers, but philosophical works and explore a vast philosophical territory. In fact, they have no parallel in any other contemporary languages.
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I'm not sure what you mean by "barbarians," since the word is almost always used as an insult and one does not usually use it to refer to one's own ancestors. If you mean simply "pre-civilized," then the era between the Paleolithic Era and the Age of Civilization is called the Neolithic Era and is characterized by the Paradigm Shift from nomadic hunting and gathering to permanent settlements practicing farming and animal husbandry.

    As I noted in another thread, here and there we find Mesolithic villages, in which people had settled into permanent homes without developing agriculture because of (usually) easy fishing. We also find pastoral nomads, nomadic cultures that have developed animal husbandry but not farming, and therefore have to migrate with their flocks to keep them fed. Pastoral nomadism is still practiced in the 21st century, for example the Sami (or "Lapps") in Finland and Russia.

    It's extremely doubtful that there were any true Paleolithic tribes in Central Asia during the time period under discussion. As I've noted, almost every technology is 99% ideas and only 1% artifacts. When Paleolithic people encounter another tribe that practices agriculture and discovers how much more secure, peaceful and opulent their lives are, it usually doesn't take more than a few generations for them to adopt the technology themselves. Only in a region teeming with game and nutritious plants does the Paleolithic lifestyle seem like an attractive alternative to village life, since its main advantage is a much shorter work week: no houses to keep clean, no crops to weed and water, no livestock to tend, no elaborate tools to build and maintain; they don't even have to clean up after themselves.

    Once civilization takes hold in a region, it quickly begins to exhaust the resources in the nearby regions. Life for a Paleolithic people always takes a turn for the worse when there are cities on the horizon. They usually either move further away beyond the city's influence, or give in and become city folk themselves.

    Your implication that the languages of pre-civilized peoples are never as "advanced" as Sanskrit, English or Chinese is simply wrong. Some of the Native American languages, for example, are arguably richer, more complex and expressive than ours. Just because they have no need for words like "stagflation" and "tachycardia" doesn't mean that they talk like parrots in three-word sentences or like chimpanzees in one thousand ASL hand signs.
    You could say the same thing about the Greeks. The Phoenician traders taught them their abjad (an alphabet with no vowels, typical of the Afroasiatic language family) and look what they were doing with a modified version of it a few hundred years later! Then the farmers in Latium modified the Greek alphabet to their own language, and a few hundred years further on they were writing literature, philosophy and other works that we still study today, just like the Sanskrit and Chinese masterpieces.
    Everyone believes that the language of their own ancestors is superior to that of everyone else's ancestors. That's just conceit. The Jews thought Ancient Hebrew was such a great language that they revived it and made it the official language of Israel. The people of Vatican City still speak Latin.
    You're joking. Now that everything has been digitized, we can actually measure the size of any body of literature. The technology of printing, alone, guaranteed an explosion of literature in the second half of the last millennium. Typewriters, and later word processing, generated another increase, and online technology is flooding civilization with written words. Sure, much of it is crap (and BTW who are we to judge the quality of what other people read?), but one tenth of one percent of a zillion words is still a lot of words.
    I appreciate your love of the writings of your ancestors. Over here we feel the same way about Homer, Ovid, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Goethe, Tolstoy and García Márquez (who is still alive and writing).
  19. rcscwc Registered Senior Member


    I do mean BARBARIANS, a term used by many westren Indeologists. Yes, it is an INSULT, and I do treat it as that. But mind you, I do not accept that Aryas WERE barbarians.

    Wherec are those Mesolithic villages? Thec earlist villages refered in RV are agricutural!!!. Prove it otherwise.

    As for richness of languages. Did I specify a language at all? Which are "richer" languages? Grammar? Metric verses? Can yiu tell me which language comes within touching distance?

    By the way, what do you know about Sanskrit grammer? You strut about as a linguist, I do not, being a trained and professional Engineer.

    Please do not digress. In just plain language please tell me and all others how you conclude that:

    #1. IVC seals are NOT Sanskrit.

    #2. How could Aryans come to India about 1500 BCE and produce copius literature by 1000 BCE?

    Please do not bring in WRITTEN scripts. They do not matter. AS Pingala about 2300 BP showed a language script can be as short as TWO characters, Binary if you please.

    Does a language need a script for survival? Gangesh proved NO. After all Sanskrit did survive., After all RV has survived without being penned down!!

    It is the habit of westren "scholars" to post date Hindu literature, to the extent that:

    #1. Bhagavad is a "degraded" copy of NT.

    #2. Whole avatar system is copied from xianity!!

    Are you much more objective? I think NOT.

    Am I joking? Upanishads alone run into 1000 pages of A4 paper!!

    Mahabharata alone is more than the 7 times larger than all of Greek epics and runs into 5,000 pages of A4 size.

    If you think EVERYTHING has INDEED been digitised, you are mistaken. There are 40,000+ manuscrpts [and counting], and not more that 5% have been digitised.

    What sort of a scholar are you? Either you get a handle on Indian literature, specifically Sanskrit, or you learn from me, not scholar even!
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I don't regard it as a term worthy of scholars so I don't use it. The most inoffensive definition of it is "uncivilized." But even the word "civilized" has been misused so badly that it's lost its clarity. Technically, "civilization" is the technology of city-building. A city is a culture distinctly advanced from a village: it has large, sturdy buildings which are expected to endure for many generations and are not all single-family homes or places of worship; it has such a large population that many residents are strangers to each other; it has such great economies of scale and division of labor that many people work in occupations that do not produce necessities; it is so large and complex that it must have a multi-level government.

    City-building (in my paradigm) is the second Paradigm Shift in the psychological and cultural evolution of our species. The first was the invention of the technologies of farming and animal husbandry, which both allowed and required us to stop wandering across the landscape and settle down in a permanent location, conflicting with our nomadic instinct. Cities created even more conflicts with our internal nature, perhaps most importantly by requiring us to override our tribal instinct and learn to live in harmony and cooperation with total strangers. A "civilized" person is literally able to treat strangers with minimal respect and kindness, for the benefit of the entire (much-expanded) tribe.

    But today people use "civilized" more vaguely to mean simply "polite to others and supportive of the community." By that definition many modern city-dwellers are "barbarians," even though they don't actually knock each other down when gathering food, and many people in hunter-gatherer communities or pre-urban agricultural villages are "civilized," even though they sleep under the stars and don't clean up their garbage. Most modern people who are not anthropologists agree on that definition.

    The Proto-Indo-Europeans may have been nomadic hunter-gatherers, or they may have been pastoral nomads, or they may have lived in farming and herding villages, or they may have passed through all of those Paradigm Shifts. But they did not build cities until they fragmented into the various individual Indo-European tribes and marched off in their separate directions: Hellenic, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Balto-Slavic, Indo-Iranian, and the few less well-categorized groups such as the Tocharians and Armenians.

    To call them "barbarians" because they had not invented the technology of city-building conforms to a dictionary definition of the word so most editors would probably allow it. But I won't. If I can't figure out which exact stage of cultural evolution they had achieved, I'll simply call them pre-urban.
    Probably the most famous Mesolithic culture is the Early Jōmon in Japan, 14000–7500 BCE. They lived in villages and had quite sophisticated pottery (a technology that is of no use to nomads because it's too fragile and/or heavy to carry), and the food source that allowed them to live this way without inventing agriculture was a bountiful supply of fish.

    Although, as we know, Japan advanced into the Neolithic Era and ultimately into modern post-industrial civilization, there was a lack of continuity. The transition from Mesolithic fishing villages to Neolithic farming villages took place at the same time as a migration of already-Neolithic tribes from the Asian continent. Like all other (as yet discovered) Mesolithic cultures, the Jōmon people never invented agriculture.

    Refer to the Wikipedia article on the Mesolithic Era and follow the links in the article to specific Mesolithic cultures. Be forewarned that Wikipedia is not consistent in its definition of "Mesolithic." Some of the linked articles are indeed about tribes in transition from the Paleolithic Era to the Neolithic Era and do not satisfy the scholarly definition of "stable, permanent settlements without agriculture."
    Mesolithic cultures are rare. I have never seen a reference to one having been found in India. Again, beware of the Wikipedia links; they count a certain Indian village as "Mesolithic" when it is in fact merely on the Paleolithic-Neolithic cusp.
    This is not a scholarly term used by linguists so I apologize for tossing it out. I call a language "rich" when it can easily adapt to rapid cultural changes. All languages adapt but some do it very slowly and awkwardly. I'm sorry that I'm not very familiar with Sanskrit or any of the modern Indic or Dravidian languages, so I can't comment on them. Two languages with which I am quite familiar are English and Chinese. They are both supremely adaptable, so I call them "rich." English adds new words by using a large (and expandable) inventory of prefixes and suffixes, by borrowing foreign words, by building compounds, and even by constructing new grammatical paradigms such as the noun-adjective compound (e.g., fuel-efficient, user-friendly, cost-effective, resource-neutral). Chinese, on the other hand, does it almost exclusively by building compound words: since all of its morphemes are monosyllables, the compounds are rather compact compared to ours (I've estimated an average of seven syllables in Chinese to ten in English or French, fourteen in Spanish or Russian) so it's a rather efficient system.

    Again, I'm not passing any judgment on Sanskrit, Hindi, Farsi, Pashto, or any of the other Indo-Iranian languages (or the non-Indo-European Dravidian language family, for that matter). I'm sure some of them are quite "rich" by my definition, and perhaps others are not.
    That's not markedly different from the Hellenic migration into what is now Greece, followed by the explosion of Classical Greek literature.

    After arrival, the Hellenic people soon came into contact with the Phoenicians, an outpost of Mesopotamian civilization already a couple of thousand years old.

    When the Aryan tribes migrated into India, didn't they discover Harappan civilization already there? So wasn't their experience broadly similar to that of the Greeks?
    No. But writing is invaluable for standardization. Today's Greeks can still read the original writings of the ancient philosophers, although they pronounce the words differently and a few of them are considered quaint.

    The most amazing example of this is China. They developed a non-phonetic script using logograms. So as the sounds of the words changed, the written form did not. As the culture expanded and people migrated to distant lands, their language evolved tremendously. Today a person in Hong Kong speaking Cantonese and a person in Beijing speaking Mandarin cannot understand each other at all: they are two different languages that require months of study before intercomprehensibility is achieved. But... they are written the same way. They use the same words in the same sequence (99% of the time), but simply pronounce them differently. Any Chinese person anywhere can read the writing of any Chinese person anywhere else, even if they could not carry on a spoken conversation.

    This is one of the forces that has kept China intact for so many thousands of years.
    You're talking to the wrong guy. My attitude about religion, particularly the Abrahamic religions, is well-known on this forum. The people you refer to are what I call "propagandists," not "scholars."

    What is being discovered is that many legends are universal, what philosopher and psychologist Carl Jung calls "archetypes." Evolution seems to have hard-wired them into our neurons, and they pop up in most cultures in most eras, in forms that are different yet recognizable. These are instincts and the reason we have them is not clear. The reason for many other instincts is obvious; for example almost every animal will instinctively run away from a larger animal with both eyes in front of its face; the reason is that if he does not, he won't live long enough to reproduce and his DNA will not survive.

    But instincts regarding stories, rituals and visual images are harder to understand. Perhaps they were survival traits in an era many tens of thousands of years ago, when dangers existed that we can't imagine today. Or perhaps they are just random mutations that were accidentally passed down through genetic drift or genetic bottlenecks, phenomena which occur all the time.

    In any case, it is hubris for a member of one community to insist that another community "copied" the legends of his own. They belong to humanity, not to any one community, and they go back to Africa, before we separated into so many different peoples.
    Yes yes, I exaggerate just like everyone else. Give us another fifty years and I'm sure the other 95% will be online too.
    I've never claimed to be a professional scholar. Most of the actual professional-career specialists we have on the SciForums moderators' staff are in the hard sciences like physics and biology. Many of the rest of us are just enthusiastic amateurs with a little more education in our subjects than the average person.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  21. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, unless you're a scholar of Roman history or something it's a ridiculously loaded term.

    Actually, probably the most inoffensive definition is the literal one: "people with beards."
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Heehee. OMG, I'm a barbarian!
  23. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Even uncivilised is quite offensive. City building with lasting dwellings can hardly be treated as a credible criterion. Are self supporting villages, as viable economic society uncivilised? A people burying their dead in lasting graves are more civilised than those who cremate?

    A "civilised" society SHALL have a term for CULTURE. Culture is not a single characteristic, but is an aggregate of many traits, developements etc.

    When we talk of your Aryans, we actually are talking of the Rig Vedic society and culture. Do you even have some back ground knowledge of RV? No, not of contents, please. Did those Aryans compose RV in ten chapters from the very beginning? Or were the verses composed first and later organised into chapters? How many centuries did it for such an organisation? Surely, PCs with eord processors were not there for editing.

    Do you know about RV language? No, not whole of it. It is called Proto Sanskrit. Pre Panini. RV, Brahmanas and Aranyakas were never redacted into Panin grammar. Though PROTO, RV language is still very advanced. In fact so advanced that not a trace thereof is anywhere else. A few terms in other languages can be easily explained by two way influence. After all, our present Indian languages have adapted many terms from Portugese. Aloo [potato], balti [bucket] and scores of others. Did Portugese bring Hindi to India?

    You say: A "civilized" person is literally able to treat strangers with minimal respect and kindness, for the benefit of the entire (much-expanded) tribe.

    Did ancient Jews have this respect? Or later xians have this respect? Or do muslims have it? A BIG, big NO. Yet ancient Hindus respect even the alien cultures [sankriti], faith [dharma] etc. On a higher plain. Civilised cultures codify the rights of even POWs, priveleges and immunities of ambassadors of even hostle kings. Hindus did. If you compare Geneva convention in these regard with ancient Hindu laws, you will find a surprising commonality. With or without lasting buildings.

    Coming back to Migrants. Did the alleged Aryans come to an empty India? India with vast green plains and teeming with all wild life, but bereft of humans? Unbelievable, incredible. INVASION has been long buried and RIP etc, with some runts still harping on it.

    So far I have been talking in terms of ANCIENT times. Times of RV society, village based with animal rearing AND agriculture. Hunting had to be there, what with teeming wild life, fresh food on their legs. But gathering as main occupation was over. Mind you, RV people lived in settled villages. There might have been larger "towns" too. But mainstay were the villages. AND who can compose beautiful verses like those of RV? Not a hunter on the move or a farmer tilling his field. Hard toil AND beautiful verses? Can't digest it. RV could have been and WAS composed of scholars who were not obliged to do hard work. Such people can be produced only by a surplus economy.

    Which of the ancestors of those "migrants" from Central Asia or X-land have produced such a large collection of beautiful, musical, metrical verse? Finger just one, sans your IEL.

    You say: The Proto-Indo-Europeans may have been nomadic hunter-gatherers, or they may have been pastoral nomads, or they may have lived in farming and herding villages, or they may have passed through all of those Paradigm Shifts.

    I wonder: is it a great innovation, and by whom? Not you, after all you are much more wiser. These are the logical sequences of developing. Hunting by men, gathering by women and children; pastoral nomads came about when they mastered comparatively "timid" animals like cows, sheeps, goats etc. Haha. But not the unruly and ill tempered buffalo. That came very, very late.

    You say: But they did not build cities until they fragmented into the various individual Indo-European tribes and marched off in their separate directions: Hellenic, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Balto-Slavic, Indo-Iranian, and the few less well-categorized groups such as the Tocharians and Armenians.

    I ask: From which central region? Do you mean to say that that these regions, "Hellenic, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Balto-Slavic, Indo-Iranian" etc wre EMPTY of humans? If they did not build cities in their native, how come they did it in other places? Also consider: building styles are vastly different in every case. Why is it that IVC excavations have revealed neatly laid towns not seen elsewhere?

    Haha. Your problems pile up, Fraggle my pal.

    Lastly. You admit you are not a scholar. Thanks for that. No shame. Neither am I. I wrote all that from my knowledge, sans crutches of Wiki or other web pages.

    PS: Aryas in India used chariot quite a lot. Did the "nomadic, pastoral" migrants bring them with them? How did they manage to cross inhospitable deserts, rugged mountains to bring them into India?

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