Friday, November 22, 2013

THE HORSE THE WHEEL AND LANGUAGE by David W. Anthony (non-fic)

The sub-title of this book is, How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes shaped the Modern World.  It is a dense, meaty tome full of fascinating evidence and valuable charts and illustrations, all to support Anthony's central thesis that the origins of our language lie in the vast steppes of southern Ukraine and Russia.  It is pretty well accepted that the progenitors of our western culture migrated from this area, but is this also where our language has its roots?  If you read this book, you will be convinced it is so, as Anthony does a masterly job of providing evidence to support this. Along with the domestication of the horse and the invention of the wheel eventually came carts for travelling distances and chariots for defence and attack.  This early language is called Proto-Indo-European which followed pre-Proto-Indo-European. It came into general usage about 3500 BCE.  Linguists have been able to reconstruct the basic forms and meanings of thousands of words that are used throughout the world today.  Indo-European is the mother tongue of about half of the world's population today, able to be traced back though Greek, Latin and Sanskrit to our nomadic Indo-European ancestors.  Anthony does an excellent job of helping neophytes like me to understand how our languages are related and how linguists go about tracing common sounds in the various sister languages back to our mother-language.

There is much to absorb in this scholarly work, and it takes time to digest the research and scholarship that the author put into this study. It is a book that I read over a long period of time, taking it up when the mood for learning struck me.  Anthony includes a wealth of archaeological findings to support his work.   If you have an interest in archaeology and language, this is a wonderful reference book for your home library. It would be a treat to take a course on language from David Anthony; the next best thing is reading his book.

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