Sunday, December 26, 2004

Tower of Babel

We have already discussed the evidence of Austronesian linguistic influence along China's coast northward to Japan.

My friend Torsten Pedersen has conducted extensive research demonstrating even much longer range influence. Torsten, a former linguist turned computer expert turned avocational linguist again, has set up an excellent website detailing his research:

Torsten Pedersen's Research on Austric Languages

Torsten believes that much of the evidence used to reconstruct the massive Nostratic super-family of languages actually originates from early Austric, mostly Austronesian, contributions. He notes that many of the cognate words reconstructed for Nostratic also appear in Austric and other languages.

Many of these words are related to traveling, boats, cargo and the like. He also found a relationship between words indicating social position and those indicating command of a ship. Some of these words appear based on a polarity of straight/orderly vs. crooked/wavy/chaotic.

At first he attributed these links mainly to Proto-Austronesian but recently has modified this to Proto-Malayo-Polynesian as per discussion on the Austronesian discussion group.

In particular, Torsten has researched the influence of pre-Indo-European substrate languages on Proto-Germanic and other northern European languages. These substrates have been called variously by such names as Old European, Atlantic, Folk, the "bird language," and the "language of geminates."

Many scholars believe the name of rivers and other bodies of water (hydronyms) in northern Europe originate from the substrate

The area of linguistic research investigating Nusantao migrations is an exciting one. I will try to connect some of the dots with regard to the numerous languages included in Torsten's study.

Paul Kekai Manansala