Aryan vs Indo-European

Been worrying about this since Northrop’s references to Aryan, and the 20th century “PC” difficulty of attributing the language to an Aryan “race”.

[PIE 2012/3 Update.] [PIE 2018 Update h/t Alice Roberts]

Since Sir William “Indiana” Jones proposed a common Aryan or Indo-European language in 1786, with linguistic similarities having been noted by European travellers as early as the 1500’s, the idea of a common “proto-indo-european” language (PIE) seems well established amongst linguists and historians. What is less clear is any agreement on the precise tree or hiearchy of which languages evolved from which, nor even whether repeat and reverse migrations and cultural influences, may have involved a more complex web rather than a simple tree.

Hindus may claim Sanskrit (refined, pollished, perfect – language of the gods) as the root. Europeans may claim Aryan (ie Iranian), Armenians may claim Aryan-Armenian, but most would agree a common PIE. What is clear is that there was a fluid Indo-European exchange of populations and culture, with common linguistic threads, that pre-dates greek, latin, and all the later romance and germanic european languages. Obviously the reason agreement is difficult is because much of this evolution pre-dates written history, and it seems (?) that the oldest written texts were the Sanskrit “Vedic” texts.

I guess the term Indo-European just avoids complicating the issue, where all that is inferred is their shared origins, in cases where precise historical sequence before the written texts is not relevant to the subject. Using Aryan (like using Sanskrit) confuses the issue with a paricular claim of aboriginality with a particular people at a particular time. Seems the proto-language and its migration east and west is generally accepted as arising 4000 BC in Anatolia / Armenia / Upper Tigris-Euphrates-Mesopotamia terrirory. Sanskrit’s claim to originality can only go back as far as 1500 BC and only as far as 100 to 200 BC in written form.

Sources: [SanskritOrigins] [ArmenianHighland] [] [1911Brittanica]

9 thoughts on “Aryan vs Indo-European”

  1. its so simple.
    aryans are differnet nations from inidia
    to iceland.
    which have closer look to each other.
    some of the are dark skinned and others
    are meditteranian and some are nordics.
    but they all look like each other.
    for example:
    dark skinned aryan is more close to blond
    german than light skinned semitic (aran,jew…etc

  2. Sadly Mr Anonymous “leo” Armenian-Aryan-Warrior, your final couplet gives away the racist prejudice, made explicit on your disgusting web-site.

    My interest in Aryan, is purely the linguistic communication and evolution. Sometimes the political correctness of “Proto-Indo-European” is the lesser of evils. I was warned.

  3. The Indo-European peoples (not-people) might have been heterogeneous speaking a common pool of languages, sharing a diversity of inter-linked cultural traits.

    Vedic Sanskrit could be the strongest contentder to the Proto-Indo-European languages, considering the infalliable scriptures, probably the most ancient of the mankind. We should look into the cultural etymology for more evidences- a field I am strongly interested in despite my scanty knowledge of Sanskrit and history.

    M.D. Subash Chandran

  4. what if i show you some pictures
    of north indians who are completly aryan
    geneticaly ?
    and some blue eyed arabs and jews who are
    not aryan at all geneticaly ?

  5. Subash, Thanks for the interest, I am certainly talking aboput “peoples” in the cultural rather than biological sense, and like you I believe Sanskrit is behind a main source here too.

    Leo, Sorry if I doubted your motives / interest. I don’t doubt what you say, about the genetic / racial lines, but I’m not sure what relevant point you are making, given that language must be predominantly cultural rather than genetic ?

  6. Dear Psybertron,
    After long time I just opened this website; and read with pleasure on those days of pre-history; though I am an ecologist I am fascinated by history and specially ecological history. More gripping for me these days is talking on cultural etymology to students and teachers of languages; a field rather forgotten in this country. I wish I get more opportunities even within our country, even locally, to speak to enthusasts about a simpler way of familiarising with English; etymologicall our next door neighbour and not alien!


  7. Hi Subash, glad to hear of your continued interest in the common etymological & cultural heritage.

  8. Dear Psybertron,
    It is long since the track got discontinued.I wonder where we reached in developing cuntural etymology further. I wish to unify the bulk of heterogeneous Indian masses under a shared common vocabulary, while keeping up the integrity of their languages, which is more of an illusion in a world fast acquiring new words (Sanskrit in bulk that is least transformed Indo-European). I tried, amidst my otherwise busy schedule of professoional ecology, to light up interest in this context in as many minds, young and old, individual and institutional. I wrote to many colleges, universities and even to the British Council of India, which is involved in developing high quality English, particulalry among teaching community, but to no avail. It seems English is to be learnt as English, in all seriousness, as a new entity, instead of being seen through as the nearest neighbour by opening up a dusty, unused window! Probably I am to still my mind by getting rid of this mania that haunts me day and night, when left alone, but pleasanter side is that it lulls me to sleep. Not being my primary field, and being short of time to streamline the thoughts and findings in publishable form, inwardly scared of cultural liguists in the field who with storehouse of technical jargon might tear apart my work, I take cultural etymology more as a personal affair these days. If you wish to reply please use my e-mail


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