Problem Formulation and Historical Context Define Terminology and Relevance-Not Linguistic Formalism
Kristiansen, Kristian, Antiquity
In his response, Colin Renfrew retreats to a formalistic argument--Indo-European can only mean a language family. It has nothing to do whatsoever with institutions or religion. This statement simply writes off a whole academic discourse of Indo-European studies. Consequently Renfrew does not accept an argument that links the spread of an institution to a concomitant spread of its language or its terminology. In opposition to this I consider Indo-European languages to have a history linked to social and economic processes of change that we still know too little about. However, it implies a relationship between them, as Colin Renfrew cogently argues in his book (Renffew 1987: chapter 6). Institutions which appear to have their origin in the Proto-Indo-European period, and which are still preserved--like language diversified--in later Indo-European religious mythology or sagas, are consequently termed Indo-European in this specific research context, as they share a common history. Often they also share a common terminology that can be demonstrated to have a Proto-Indo-European origin. In that they are interlinked in one way or another with language. It is therefore a worthy research task to consider if processes of language spread and the spread of institutions are interlinked, given that their terminology share a common origin.
From this follows that we must either abolish the term Indo-European completely, or accept that it embodies a number of social and religious traditions and institutions whose history cannot be totally separated from that of language, as their meaning is expressed in a specific Indo-European terminology. The danger of political misuse does not originate from research into this relationship; it originates from simplistic theoretical and methodological conflations of such categories with racist and chauvinistic historical constructions. …