Friday, September 15, 2017

The Case For A Funnel Beaker Substrate In Germanic Languages

A new paper makes the case that the Funnel Beaker people of Southern Scandinavia, the urheimat of the Germanic languages, provided the non-Indo-European substrate in the Germanic languages.
In this article, we approach the Neolithization of southern Scandinavia from an archaeolinguistic perspective. Farming arrived in Scandinavia with the Funnel Beaker culture by the turn of the fourth millennium B.C.E. It was superseded by the Single Grave culture, which as part of the Corded Ware horizon is a likely vector for the introduction of Indo-European speech. As a result of this introduction, the language spoken by individuals from the Funnel Beaker culture went extinct long before the beginning of the historical record, apparently vanishing without a trace. However, the Indo-European dialect that ultimately developed into Proto-Germanic can be shown to have adopted terminology from a non-Indo-European language, including names for local flora and fauna and important plant domesticates. We argue that the coexistence of the Funnel Beaker culture and the Single Grave culture in the first quarter of the third millennium B.C.E. offers an attractive scenario for the required cultural and linguistic exchange, which we hypothesize took place between incoming speakers of Indo-European and local descendants of Scandinavia’s earliest farmers.
Rune Iversen, Guus Kroonen, Talking Neolithic: Linguistic and Archaeological Perspectives on How Indo-European Was Implemented in Southern Scandinavia, 121(4) American Journal of Archaeology 511-525 (October 2017) DOI: 10.3764/aja.121.4.0511

One problem with the analysis is that proto-Germanic appears to be much more recent than the third millenium B.C.E. So, an substrate probably had to, at a minimum, penetrate an intermediate Indo-European language and then persist, before proto-Germanic arose.

Also, for what it is worth, all of my citation forms at this blog, when in doubt, follow the Bluebook conventions applicable to law review articles and legal briefs, albeit with some simplification re typesetting.

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