Symposium on Language and Culture; Proceedings

By Viola E. Garfield; Wallace L. Chafe | Go to book overview

AN EVOLUTIONARY SKETCH OF RUSSIAN KINSHIP

Paul Friedrich

IN THE FOLLOWING paper is presented a preliminary sketch of the evolution of Russian kinship from the reconstructed stages of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) and Proto-Slavic, through the historically attested old and nineteenth-century Russian, to the trends of contemporary modern Russian. Linguistic, historical, and anthropological approaches have been combined. The kinship terminology is thought of as mediating through time between one aspect of linguistic structure and one social aspect of cultural organization. The conclusions deal with a point of method, sum up the evolution of Russian kinship in relation to general evolution and taxonomy, and finally, suggest new fields for the present approach.


Proto-Indo-European

About the second half of the third millenium the dialectally heterogeneous Proto-Indo- European speech community appears to have been located somewhere in or between the Altai Mountains of central Asia and the swampy forests of northeastern Europe, with greater Caucasia as the most probable area, for the following reasons. A cluster of typological rarities such as twelve velar stops, three or four laryngeal phonemes, and only one vowel phoneme would link it in a Sprachbund ( Jakobson, 1936b:353) with the languages of the Caucasian area such as Kabardian ( Jakovlev, 1948; Hockett, 1955:85-86). All the ingenious arguments about fauna and flora ( Thieme, 1953) that have been used to locate the PIE people in northeastern Europe can be used to place them in the Caucasus. Finally, textual evidence and scores of sound etyma, such as those for axle and yoke, lead to the reconstruction of a fairly mobile society of wagon-using, animal-breeding agriculturalists, apparently that of the prehistoric Kuban, and closely related types; the Middle Kuban was a Copper Age culture dated at about 2100 B. C. ( Gimbutas, 1956:79, 92; Childe, 1957:148-74). As Piggott has concluded, "But responsible linguists and archeologists have agreed in regarding the possible region of origin as relatively limited, and lying somewhere between the Danube and the Oxus" ( Piggott, 1950:248). He subsequently emphasizes south Russia. According to rather tight archeological evidence, these warlike folk entered eastern Europe about 2000 B. C., and north India about two hundred years later ( Piggott, 1950:344-89), rapidly replacing or altering the indigenous cultures ( Gimbutas, 1956:106-8). The material culture had already started to differentiate in a manner roughly corresponding to the major linguistic stocks such as Germanic and Slavic ( Gimbutas, 1960). Ethnological reasoning would lead one to suspect a patrilineal organization, since Caucasian tribes have always been notably patrilocal and patriarchal, and in the same general central Asiatic culture area pastoralists such as the Kazaks have retained Omaha systems with extraordinary conservativism for hundreds of years

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Symposium on Language and Culture; Proceedings
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • An Evolutionary Sketch of Russian Kinship 1
  • Notes 22
  • Bibliography 23
  • Culture Geography at a Distance: Some Problems in the Study of East European Jewry 27
  • Notes 36
  • Bibliography 38
  • Linguistic Evidence for Salish Prehistory 41
  • Notices to Aes Members 51
  • Notes 57
  • Bibliography 58
  • Inconsistencies in Cherokee Spelling 60
  • The Sequential Distribution of Thanking in Aymara Culture 64
  • Notes 67
  • Lynching the Lexicographers 69
  • Notes 94
  • Notices to Aes Members 96
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