illyrian

Thraco-Illyrian

Thraco-Illyrian is a hypothesis that the Thraco-Dacian and Illyrian languages comprise a distinct branch of Indo-European. Thraco-Illyrian is also used as a term merely implying a Thracian-Illyrian interference, mixture or sprachbund, or as a shorthand way of saying that it is not determined whether a subject is to be considered as pertaining to Thracian or Illyrian.

The linguistical hypothesis was especially current in the early 20th century, but after the 1960s it was seriously called into question. New publications argued that no strong evidence for Thraco-Illyrian exists, and that the two language-areas show more differences than correspondences (Vladimir Georgiev, Ivan Duridanov, Eric Hamp, et al.).

Linguistic contact

The rivers Vardar and Morava are generally taken as the rough line of demarcation between the Illyrian sphere on the west and Thracian on the east. There is however much interference in the area between Illyrian and Thracian, with Thracian groups inhabiting Illyrian lands (the Thracian Bryges for example) and Illyrian groups overlapping into the Thracian zone (the Dardani seem to be a Thraco-Illyrian mix; Wilkes, 1992 et al.). It appears that Thracian and Illyrian do not have a clear-cut frontier (Russu 1969). Similarities found between the Illyrian and Thracian lexis can thus be seen as merely linguistic interference (Hemp, Georgiev et al.).

Common branch

Others such as I. I. Russu argue that there should have been major similarities between Illyrian and Thracian, and a common linguistic branch (not merely a Sprachbund) is probable. Among the Thraco-Illyrian correspondences Russu considers are the following:

Illyrian Daco-Thracian Remarks Etymology
Abroi Abre- Abre- is an element taken from certain Thracian anthroponyms
Aploi, Aplus, Apulia Apuli, Appulus, Apulum
Bilia, Bilios Bila
Dardi, Dardani Dardanos, Darda-para
Saprinus Sapri-sara
Separi Sapaioi
Sita Sita, Seita
Tribulium Triballi, Tribanta
Zorada Zar-, Zur-

Not many Thraco-Illyrian correspondences are definite, and a number may be incorrect, even from the list above. Sorin Paliga (2002) however states: "According to the available data, we may surmise that Thracian and Illyrian were mutually understandable, e.g. like Czech and Slovak, in one extreme, or like Spanish and Portuguese, at the other."

Other linguists however argue that Illyrian and Thracian were different Indo-European branches which later converged through contact. It is also of significance that Illyrian is often regarded as a centum language (Wilkes, 1992), while it is undisputed that Thracian was a satem language by the Classical Period (the satem nature of proto-Thracian is disputed, Olteanu 2002).

Due to the fragmentary attestation of both Illyrian and Thraco-Dacian, the existence of a Thraco-Illyrian branch remains controversial. Evidence of a Thraco-Illyrian branch has also been sought in the Albanian language, which might have developed from either a Thraco-Dacian or Illyrian language, or possibly even a Thraco-Illyrian creole.

Notes

  • The place of Paionian remains unclear. Not much has been determined in the study of Paionian, and some linguists do not recognize a Paionian area separate from Illyrian or Thracian. The place of Ancient Macedonian is also undetermined. Paliga (2002) states: "It is therefore difficult to say whether the ancient Macedonians spoke an idiom closer to Thracian, Illyrian, Greek or a specific idiom."

References

  • Georgiev, Vladimir.
  • Paliga, Sorin. Pre-Slavic place-names. 2002.
  • Wilkes, John. The Illyrians. Blackwell Publishing, 1992.

See also

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