SCHLEICHER’S FABLE – IN INDO-EUROPEAN

Being an amateur linguist and philologist this kind of thing fascinates me. Also I have long studied Indo-European root terms and words. As a poet and song-writer, as a writer, as a man who loves languages, and simply for my own enjoyment.

Enjoy this Archaeology article.

Be sure to listen to and read the Fable on the main site. I’ve listened to it three times already.

Fascinating.

Sheep

(iStockphoto)

By the 19th century, linguists knew that all modern Indo-European languages descended from a single tongue. Called Proto-Indo-European, or PIE, it was spoken by a people who lived from roughly 4500 to 2500 B.C., and left no written texts. The question became, what did PIE sound like? In 1868, German linguist August Schleicher used reconstructed Proto-Indo-European vocabulary to create a fable in order to hear some approximation of PIE.

Called “The Sheep and the Horses,” and also known today as Schleicher’s Fable, the short parable tells the story of a shorn sheep who encounters a group of unpleasant horses. As linguists have continued to discover more about PIE (and archaeologists have learned more about the Bronze Age cultures that would have spoken it), this sonic experiment continues and the fable is periodically updated to reflect the most current understanding of how this extinct language would have sounded when it was spoken some six thousand years ago. Since there is considerable disagreement among scholars about PIE, no one version can be considered definitive. Here, University of Kentucky linguist Andrew Byrd recites his version of the fable, as well as a second story, called “The King and the God,” using pronunciation informed by the latest insights into reconstructed PIE…

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