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This week we remember the great Russian poet, singer and bard Vladimir Vysotskij (January 25, 1938–July 25, 1980).

“Russian actor, lyricist, and folk-singer whose social and political satire spoke of the ironies and hardships of a strictly regulated Soviet society. While risking official displeasure, he became an immensely popular figure who was revered by the Russian people even after his death”  Read more about Vladimir Vysotskij here Read the rest of this entry »

I would like to recommend this  popular article “Making Archaeology Speak – Archaeology and Linguistics”  by  Maciej Mateusz Wencel  (born in Gdynia, northern Poland, currently reads an Undergraduate Course in Archaeology and Anthropology at Oxford University). It is very well written  and well balanced. I have arrived to very similar ideas  and agree with  most of what he has written.

Here are some  extracts: Read the rest of this entry »

In my previous post I gave a list of  some Sanskrit-Russian cognate verbs which  showed a remarkable phono-semantic affinity. This closeness  also extends to grammatical endings. I would like to demonstrate it here taking as an example one Sanskrit verb jīvati ‘lives, is or remains alive’.   For Russian I chose a less used  form живать živat‘  which  in modern Russian is predominantly used  with prefixes  e. g. проживать proživat‘.  It is an exact analogue of Sankrit  jīvati  and Avestan  ǰvaiti.    To make the comparison more obvious I also included  Lithuanian and Latin cognates. Hopefully,  this comparison is self-explanatory.

Some notes:

There are many theories  on the nature of  verbal systems in  the ancient dialects that are commonly referred to as  ‘Indo-European’ and ‘proto-Indo-European’.  As I have already written in the comments,  I do not accept the idea of a  uniform ‘proto-language’. I do use these terms but  only as  ‘umbrella terms’ meaning a certain simplified  generalisation.

There is a general consensus that ‘Indo-European’  verbs were conjugated  (at least in the present tense) by  person (First, Second and Third) and by number (Singular, Dual and Plural). These grammatical  categories were expressed by means of  special endings which were added to the  verbal stem .  It should be noted that  ‘verbal stem’ as well as ‘verbal root’ are  abstractions. For example, ancient Sanskrit grammarians did not  single out the root. Instead they  operated with  dhātu  ‘constituent part, ingredient, element’. The notion of a verbal root  was  brought in by Western scholars  inspired by Semitic monosyllabic  CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) roots. So when we see in a modern dictionary  a root  jīv,  according to Pāṇini, this would be a  dhātu  jīva ‘living, existing, alive’.  From the point of Western linguists it would be viewed as  a  CVC root  jīv + a so-called ‘thematic vowel‘ –a. Together they would form a ‘stem’ which may be taken as an equivalent of dhātu.  For convenience I mark the  root in italic, thematic vowel in blue and the personal ending in red. I also added  hypothetical (reconstructed)  thematic vowels and personal endings based on a more traditional interpretation of Fortson (Indo-European Language and Culture. Blackwell Publishing. 2004).


Sanskrit  j is  [ɟ͡ʝ] (similar to j in jam],    is  a visarga ‘sending forth, letting go, liberation, emission, discharge’. It is a voiceless ‘breath out’  like an energetic [h]. In certain positions at  words conjunctions  visarga  becomes /s/ or /r/.  Long vowels are marked with a bar above so ī  is  [i:]. Because Russian stressed vowels are primarily characterised by length,  I transliterate them in the similar manner so ā  is a stressed a . By the way, Sanskrit  should be pronounced as [ɐ] or  [ə]  which exactly corresponds to the Russian unstressed a.

I transliterate here Cyrillic using the same system of Latin  transliteration  as  commonly used for  Devanāgarī  so  Russian ш [ʂ] commonly transliterated as š  or sh,  appears here as  ṣ. This is particularly justified because Sanskrit  is also a retroflex sibilant.   Also I transliterate here  ж [ʒ] (ž or zh)  as j. However,  Lithuanian  j   is [j]. Lithuanian g is [g]  and y is [].

Singular  Hypothetical “IE” Plural  Hypothetical “IE”
 1st (I) Skr. jīvāmi
*-oh₂ 1st (we) jīvāmaḥ *-omos
Rus. jivāyu jivāem
Lith. gyvoju
Lat. vīvō vīvimus
2nd (you) Skr. jīvasi *-esi 2nd (you) jīvatha *-ete
Rus. jivāe jivāete
Lith. gyvuoji gyvuojate
Lat vīvis vīvitis
3rd (he/she/it) Skr. jīvati *-eti 3rd (they) jīvanti *-onti
Rus. jivāet jivāyut
Lith. gyvuoja gyvuoja
Lat. vīvit vīvunt

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