Page:The Outline of History Vol 1.djvu/193

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
169
THE ARYAN-SPEAKING PEOPLES

were also being individualized as Armenian and Indo-Iranian, the parent of Sanscrit and Persian. In this book we have used the word Aryan for all this family of languages, but the term Indo-European is sometimes used for the entire family, and "Aryan" itself restricted in a narrower sense to the Indo-Iranian speech.[1] This Indo-Iranian speech was destined to split later into a number of languages, including Persian and Sanscrit, the latter being the language of certain tribes of fair-complexioned Aryan speakers who pushed eastward into India somewhen between 3000 and 1000 b.c. and conquered dark Dravidian peoples who were then in possession of that land.

 

§ 2

What sort of life did these prehistoric Aryans lead, these Nordic Aryans who were the chief ancestors of most Europeans and most white Americans and European colonists of to-day, as well as of the Armenians,[2] Persians, and high-caste Hindus?

In answering that question we are able to resort to a new source of knowledge in addition to the dug-up remains and vestiges upon which we have had to rely in the case of Palæolithic man. We have language. By careful study of the Aryan languages it has been found possible to deduce a number of conclusions about the life of these Aryan peoples 5000 or 4000 years ago. All these languages have a common resemblance, as each, as we have already explained, rings the changes upon a number of common roots. When we find the same root word running through all or most of these tongues, it seems reasonable to conclude that the thing that root word signifies must have been known to the common ancestors. Of course, if they have exactly the same word in their languages, this may not be the case; it may be the new

  1. See Schrader (translated by Jevons), Prehistoric Antiquities of the Aryan Peoples, p. 404. But though the word Aryan was undoubtedly in its original application the name only of the Indo-Iranian people, it has been used in modern discussion for more than half a century in the wider sense. A word was badly wanted for that purpose, and "Aryan" was taken; failing "Aryan" we should be obliged to fall back on "Indo-Germanic" or "Indo-European," terms equally open to objection and ugly and clumsy to employ.
  2. But these may have been an originally Semitic people who learnt an Aryan speech.