THE CENTUM GROUP AND THE SATEM GROUP
P HILOLOGISTS have made a first classification of the Indo-European dialects into two groups according to the way in which the initial consonant of the word meaning hundred developed. The word began with a palatal, which among some peoples became a sibilant, while with others it remained an occlusive. There are satem peoples and centum peoples. The Hindus say çatám, the Iranians said satem, and the Lithuanians szim+̂tas, whereas the Latins said centum. The Goths said hund, the Greeks ἐκατóν. The Irish said cét, now céad, and the Welsh say cant. Celtic, therefore, is one of the centum languages.1 The value of the distinction appears problematical and the attachment of Celtic to the centum group of little significance, if we remember that French, which is one of the heirs of Celtic, has transformed the Latin occlusive into a sibilant. But one should mention the matter.
But let us consider Fig. 1 for a moment. This diagram, devised by M. Meillet,2 shows the Indo-European languages grouped according to their affinities. At the same time it shows their topographical distribution. The vertical diameter divides the satem peoples from the centum peoples. Each group is continuous. The dialects of each have been spoken by peoples which are or were neighbours. We shall see other evidences of their kinship. The symbol chosen is not perhaps the most expressive possible, but the thing symbolized is certain.
One group is missing from the diagram, namely the Tokharians of Turkestan. They, surrounded by peoples which spoke languages of the satem type, Indian or Iranian, spoke languages of the centum type. But we have more than____________________