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Old 05-27-2021, 07:56 AM   #191
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It’s been over 9 years since I last posted on this thread, which was created to explore the possible connection between Balto-Slavic and Paleo-Balkan languages. Reading back through the pages, I would, perhaps, adjust my approach on some points. I do, however, maintain my overall position. And having long held the view that a connection between the abovementioned languages is probable, I found the below theory put forth by Florin Curta rather pertinent.
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Slavs in the Making: History, Linguistics, and Archaeology in Eastern Europe (CA. 500 – CA. 700). pp. 170-171.

It is simply impossible to know what the language was that was spoken within communities living on sites attributed to the Prague culture. In the absence of hard evidence of language use, various scenarios concerning Common Slavic must be regarded as hypothetical attempts to express historical relationships between people and language(s). Any such attempt involves a great degree of idealization, as hypotheses will always remain unverifiable. However, some scenarios are more convincing than others, especially when evaluated against the historical background. For example, the idea was recently put forward that Slavic served as lingua franca within the Avar qaganate. Reactions were mixed: some have accepted the idea, others have rejected it. The problem seems to be the confusion between the appearance and the spread of Slavic: the hypothesis of lingua franca can explain (at least partially) the latter, but not the former. There are in fact three possible mechanisms that can explain language spread: language shift, demographic expansion, and migration. Almost all literature on the spread of Slavic assumes, at least implicitly, that the language spread outside of Urheimat in multiple directions by means of migration. However, there is little if any evidence for that assumption.

A few scholars have insistently pointed out that Common Slavic could not possibly have been the result of migration, because any migration to wider territories would have led to language differentiation – different languages, not as a common one. Some maintain that the Slavic language was formed in an area bordered by Germanic languages to the northwest, Thracian to the southwest, Baltic languages to the north, and Iranian to the southeast. Others have proposed to treat (Common Slavic) as a convergence of Balto-Slavic, Iranian, and Thracian dialects. This nicely dovetails with the recent idea that, instead of lingua franca, Common Slavic must be regarded as a koine. The distinction is important: a lingua franca is a vehicular language used for interlingual comprehension between groups that do not speak each other’s languages, as well as between native speakers of the lingua franca and other groups. By contrast, the process of koineization consist of the structural convergence between closely related linguistic systems (languages, dialects) leading to the stabilization of some compromise variety. A koine is the result of a particular type of language contact, in which speakers continue to use their own linguistic varieties while communicating with speakers of similar varieties. There is therefore no need of learning another (second) language and no possibility of “imperfect” language transmission. Central to the idea of koine, therefore, is dialect mixing, but the simple contact between dialects does not produce koineization. It has long been noted that what is often meant by “languages in contact” is “users of languages in contact,” which implies that any investigation of a language contact situation is by definition sociolinguistic in nature. The “motor” of koineization is the linguistic activity of adults who are suddenly dependent upon each other and who decide to accommodate their speech to that of their (new) neighbors. For koineization to occur, the argument goes, traditional social networks have to be destroyed and weak ties to replace them; new social networks, especially those put in place by younger generations, are responsible for the focusing or stabilization of a new koine. The implication is that koineization cannot happen without speakers having frequent and consistent contact with each other: intimate social interaction between speakers of the different varieties in contact is a sine qua non of koine formation.

Such remarks definitely apply to Common Slavic, which has been described as a language that is easy to learn precisely because of its simplified structure. If one accepts therefore the idea that Slavic was a koine, under what social (and political) conditions could koineization have taken place? The lack of any firmly established chronology makes it difficult to answer that question, but there seems to be no doubt that Common Slavic was in existence by AD 600. The conditions leading to the formation of the Slavic koine must therefore have been those of the previous two to three generations, i.e., in the course of the 6th century. Even if it is far from clear where the koine was formed, speakers of Balto-Slavic, Iranian, and Thracian must have had multiple and frequent contacts. Social and sociopsychological conditions during the 6th century in the area where those contacts took place must have been sufficiently favorable for linguistic convergence to take place and the Slavic koine to emerge.

The notion of linguistic koineization is ultimately based on the theory of speech accommodation (itself derived from the similarity-attraction theory), according to which convergent languages reflect the speakers’ need for social integration with each other: people modify their speech either by adapting to the speech of others in order to become more similar to their behavior (“convergence”) or by accentuating difference from them (“divergence”). It became possible therefore to analyze the choices that social actors made more or less consciously in order to meet expectations about their extralinguistic consequences. When speakers of different linguistic variants “converge,” that is not just a matter of social networks (kin, neighbors, friends), but of shared social history as well: common experiences, similar types and frequencies of contacts, shared enterprises. Others insist that communication is not just the transmission of messages, but an ongoing search for a common code by two or more interlocutors through attempts at a co-construction of shared meanings. The disposition to express oneself in particular ways accommodating other people’s behavior finds its direct and concrete expression in language as koine, but also in practice as “intentional matrix” of cognitive, affective, and volitive values. To put it in different yet simpler terms, if the Slavic koine came into being because of real-life communicative acts, there must have been some practices that speakers of that koine shared or wanted to share. A number of such practices are documented archaeologically and may well signal the social transformations responsible for the linguistic convergence.
Thracians and related people progressively speaking a koine and eventually adopting it as a primary language over their local dialects, which could also explain the very reason for naming it 'Slavic' (i.e., a common language). Elsewhere, the koine being used as a lingua franca by people who spoke different languages. Seems like a more plausible explanation for the dissemination of early Slavic than the outdated idea of an obscure tribe from the Pripet marshes occupying half of Europe within a few centuries.
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Old 10-24-2021, 12:05 AM   #192
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there is a tonne of evidence for this
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Old 10-26-2021, 11:00 PM   #193
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I haven't had a chance to go through all of this thread but I like linguistics! I am wondering, after a quick search, the suggestion is that the only surviving Paleo Balkan languages are Greek and Albanian. But not Macedonian, which I assume should be in the Balto-Slavic group?

So, the question is whether the ancestors of all these languages (modern Greek, Albanian and Macedonian) split on their own from Proto Indo european and thus, share a common ancestor.
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Old 10-27-2021, 01:25 AM   #194
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Any theory that only Greek and Albanian have a claim to Paleo-Balkan ancestry is ubsurd. At the very least, ALL modern Balkan languages would possess at least some Paelo-Balkan features; common history and shared space demands it
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Old 10-27-2021, 12:30 PM   #195
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These classifications are phylogenetic. They capture ancestry but not exchange of features, even if they are significant. For example, English is a Germanic language, even if it has plenty of Greek and especially Latin influences (neither of which are Germanic).

Interestingly enough, there exist non phylogenetic language groups and one of them is the Balkan Language Area. This groups virtually all modern Balkan languages (Greek, Albanian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Romani, Local Turkish, etc.) based on all the similar structures they have with each rather than their genetic relatives.

I think that the reason for this Balkan group is that speakers of all these languages used to be living in the same country (Eastern Roman Empire and Ottoman Empire) for essentially 2000 years, till the creation of modern nation-states. They were bound to start exchanging features with each other!
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Old 10-28-2021, 01:57 AM   #196
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You are speaking of the Balkan sprachbund
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Old 11-19-2021, 10:47 AM   #197
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Originally Posted by YuriB View Post
I haven't had a chance to go through all of this thread but I like linguistics! I am wondering, after a quick search, the suggestion is that the only surviving Paleo Balkan languages are Greek and Albanian. But not Macedonian, which I assume should be in the Balto-Slavic group?
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Any theory that only Greek and Albanian have a claim to Paleo-Balkan ancestry is ubsurd. At the very least, ALL modern Balkan languages would possess at least some Paelo-Balkan features; common history and shared space demands it
In my view, the Paleo-Balkan languages can be classified into two categories, broadly based on the centum-satem divide. One of them is represented by anc. Greek, which is a hybrid of an Indo-European language and a non-IE substrate. Its IE element derives from the centum branch of Proto-Indo-European, which means Greek, at its core, is more akin to the Italic and Celtic languages in the west of Europe than it is (or was) to the adjacent languages in southeast Europe. Due in no small part to a level of stability its predecessor achieved through its continued use as a literary or administrative language (questions about the extent of its use as a primary spoken tongue aside), mod. Greek is a clear and identifiable descendant of the centum category of Paleo-Balkan. The satem category of Paleo-Balkan is represented by the non-Greek languages, such as Thracian. Based on little more than conjecture, it has become fashionable to propagate the claim that Albanian descended from one or more of these languages. Whilst Albanian may be spoken in a part of what was once Illyria, it also happens to be one of the most bastardised languages in the world. Like Greek, it may be treated as an IE isolate, but unlike mod. Greek, it cannot be clearly identified with a specific ancestor, Paleo-Balkan or otherwise. This ambiguity is beneficial for proponents of Albanian indigeneity, as it is often used to evade any kind of methodical scrutiny.

There are other languages that are just as adulterated, but their provenance is not in dispute because they have sister languages with a partially shared lexis or long histories of literature to compare with. One could, therefore, advance the argument that if there was only more evidence of Paleo-Balkan languages, it would reveal the missing link with regard to Albanian. However, despite its relatively poor attestation, a decent number of Thracian words are known from historical accounts and inscriptions, and their affinity with Albanian is comparatively negligible. Thus, there are some crucial questions that remain unanswered. For example, did Albanian begin as an intrusive language, or a group of intrusive languages, that adopted and adapted the vocabulary from multiple Romance, and to a lesser degree, Paleo-Balkan and other languages? If so, when and where did the amalgamation occur? Or were the Paleo-Balkan languages so thoroughly diluted through drastic changes and admixture over time that the “original” component of Albanian has been reduced to irrelevance? If the latter is true, why do some of the languages it purportedly descends from have more in common with the supposedly “foreign” Slavic languages and their geographically distant Baltic relatives? The last question is particularly important, as much of the same territory where the satem category of Paleo-Balkan languages were once spoken is occupied by the southern part of the Balto-Slavic group. Within that framework, some notable observations can be made.

First, Balto-Slavic is also from the satem branch of PIE and shares some of the same sound changes that were common in Thracian and its counterparts. Second, both Baltic and Slavic (more so the former) share close and relatively unique cognates with Thracian, and in several cases, Baltic is practically identical to Thracian. Third, Baltic vocabulary is often more archaic than Slavic, so the further back one reconstructs certain Slavic words, the more they resemble their Baltic (and Thracian) equivalents. Albanian also shares some sound changes and cognates with Thracian, but the latter has far more in common with Balto-Slavic than any other modern language group. That is not just a mere coincidence. Thracian was spoken well into the 6th century and its disappearance has a direct correlation with the appearance of Slavic. There are those in mainstream scholarship who limit the relevance of this fact, because if they afford it the appropriate attention, they may also need to consider the likely existence of a common language group that was bounded by Baltic to the north and Thracian to the south, putting a significant dent in the improbable “Slavic migration” theory. That is why Florin Curta, as a reputable and published historian, is of a difference. He has no dog in this fight and the very fact he is so vehemently opposed by certain scholars who have spent their careers endorsing outdated concepts serves to highlight their insecurities.

In his recent book, Curta strips away the poisonous politics that have plagued studies on this topic for years and opens the path for a more rational conclusion, namely, that somewhere within the space of this Baltic-Thracian landscape, in an area that was more susceptible to foreign influences, a convergence of related dialects occurred, resulting in the creation of a simplified koine, i.e., Slavic. Whereas variations were already present, the outcome of these events led to some of the key attributes that further differentiate Slavic from Baltic and Thracian, such as the changes in certain grammatical features and the greater incorporation of Iranian and Germanic loanwords. Such a sequence is not without parallel and one need only look to the history of the English language for a suitable analogy. Anglo-Saxons were speaking Old English when Viking settlers brought Old Norse to Britain. Although both languages were Germanic, certain differences meant the two communities found it difficult to communicate efficiently. One of the ways they overcame this challenge, at least in part, was to simplify the grammar. Factor in the abundance of loanwords that came with the invading Normans, and the end result was the eventual disappearance of Old Norse and the transition from Old English to Middle English, which was noticeably different from its predecessor. In both cases, Middle English and Slavic represent important stages of development within their respective language groups, which set them on a different course. Today, mutual intelligibility between English and other Germanic languages (with the possible exception of Scots) is extremely limited to non-existent. The average English-speaker will find the Old English vernacular used in Caedmon's Hymn or Beowulf slightly familiar, but largely incomprehensible. In fact, a German-speaker may find those works easier to learn (but not to immediately understand) due to some of the vocabulary and grammar.

Similar circumstances apply to Macedonian, which is a contemporary Balto-Slavic language. Whilst there are degrees of mutual intelligibility based on proximity with other Slavic languages, there is little to none with the Baltic side of the family. The average Macedonian-speaker would find a number of Thracian words to be somewhat familiar, but would struggle to comprehend a reconstructed sentence in that language. A Lithuanian-speaker, on the other hand, is likely to understand more of it. As for the question about whether or not Macedonian has a link to Paleo-Balkan languages, the delineation of the latter should be taken into account. It has already been established that Thracian was historically spoken on both sides of the Danube. If, for example, the earlier ancestor of mod. Macedonian was developed in the northern part of the Thracian linguistic sphere before being adopted by people who spoke related dialects south of the river, does it make it any less Paleo-Balkan? Does the fact that the forerunners to this ancestor sounded much more like Baltic, and therefore like Thracian, not count for anything? I would argue that it does. Although several Baltic-Thracian cognates cannot be found in contemporary Slavic languages, they must have existed in some of the dialects that formed their Slavic predecessor. The fact that Baltic shares so many similarities with Thracian yet is clearly part of the same family as Slavic, suggests that the relationship between the three is indeed phylogenetic. Unfortunately, research in this field has been stunted by individuals who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Fortunately, scientific perspectives continue to evolve and with more people like Curta taking an objective and open-minded approach, it is only a matter of time before this topic, traditionally (but unfairly) characterised as a “fringe” theory, receives the attention it deserves.
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Old 11-19-2021, 05:33 PM   #198
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I find it hilariously sad that there are people out there so invested in discrediting any potential theory or school of thought that goes against the accepted narrative regarding Macedonia and Macedonians that they actively spend every waking moment of their lives seeking out and trying their best to shut down such theories. The so-called Slavic migration theory is a good example of this. For many, it seems, it is their mission in life to try and maintain the status quo regarding this theory and any opposing view that suggests otherwise such as the existence of a proto-Slavic Balkan homeland must be shut down immediately. Attitudes such as these do nothing more than reveal the insecurities of these people and their paranoia about anything that might connect the ethnogenesis of the ancient Macedonians with something other than the ancient Greeks.

Florin Curta’s views may not be mainstream but they are by no means less valid. Shutting down a theory because it goes against the accepted mainstream view is not the scientific approach. It never is. It’s very similar to the derogatory accusation used today to describe anyone who does not agree with the latest Covid rules and advice as “going against the science”. Yet, we’ve all seen how that Covid advice is constantly being updated and corrected. Scientific research, by its very nature, is all about research and experimentation. Well, that’s how it was back in the day anyway. It has now become a religion and you can no longer question the dogma. Climate change is another good example of this.

Here are two idiots, one of them, Politis, a very familiar name on anything Macedonian-related, giving their 2 cents worth on Florin Curta’s Wikipedia Talk page:

This article reads like self-promotion. I am not saying it was written by the person concerned in the article, but it reads as such. There is nothing to warrant a Wikipedia article of Mr Cuta. Politis (talk) 22:24, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

I agree- I don't see anything here notable enough for an article and research is coming up with nothing. I am nominating this article for deletion per WP:Notability Sesamehoneytart 00:44, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Regarding ancient geographical place names and personal names, there are quite a few that have been uncovered on various inscriptions on the territories of modern Macedonia and Bulgaria that are unique and cannot possibly be classed as being Greek. The Greeks themselves admit this. The name of the ancient Paeonian city of Bilazora (i.e., bela zora or white dawn) immediately comes to mind as does the personal female name of Zaika – from the root Macedonian word for rabbit or hare - Zajak. The name Bilazora, by the way, has been dismissed as an anomaly and a complete coincidence by historians and linguists. Of course they would say that. Anything less would go against the status quo. Not sure if they have also dismissed the personal name Zaika as a coincidence as well. The name Zaika was found inscribed in the village of Vitolishte (Republic of Macedonia) as well as the village of Otishtino in Pirin Macedonia. Other interesting ancient Macedonian personal names that have been discovered include Dida, Doula/Doule, Kopria, Lyka, Moma, Momo, Manta, Nana, Sita, Tata, etc.
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Old 11-25-2021, 07:03 AM   #199
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The name Zaika was found inscribed in the village of Vitolishte (Republic of Macedonia) as well as the village of Otishtino in Pirin Macedonia. Other interesting ancient Macedonian personal names that have been discovered include Dida, Doula/Doule, Kopria, Lyka, Moma, Momo, Manta, Nana, Sita, Tata, etc.
Karposh, notwithstanding the likely relation between various Paleo-Balkan languages, those names appear to be common among Thracians and Illyrians. Are you suggesting they were anc. Macedonian personal names because they were found inscribed in Macedonia or because they were tied to known Macedonian personalities?
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Old 11-26-2021, 07:38 AM   #200
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Karposh, notwithstanding the likely relation between various Paleo-Balkan languages, those names appear to be common among Thracians and Illyrians. Are you suggesting they were anc. Macedonian personal names because they were found inscribed in Macedonia or because they were tied to known Macedonian personalities?
Hey SoM. They are just some of the names that have been found inscribed at various archaeological sites throughout what was once the ancient geographical region of Upper Macedonia as outlined in Nade Proeva's book Studies of the Ancient Macedonians, more specifically, in Chapter VI "Epihorski Iminja vo Gorna Makedonija". I think I merely singled out these names in particular (amongst the many others in the book) because of their very non-Hellenic sounding origins. In her book, Proeva does ascibe Thracian or Illirian origins to some of these names as you correctly point out but, to me, they sound very slavic-like. That is, from a purely phonetic point of view. Doule, for example, is a common Balkan male name to this vary day and can easily be found not only in Macedonia but in Serbia and Bulgaria as well. Moma and Momo have obvious etymological connotations to today's standard Macedonian word for young lady / girl / maiden. And the others just sound like they can pass as normal modern Macedonian personal names.
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