LINGUIST List 16.836

Sat Mar 19 2005

Disc: Re: Media: BBC: Welsh-Hindi Link

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        1.    Mark Jones, Disc: Re: Media: BBC: Welsh-Hindi Link

Message 1: Disc: Re: Media: BBC: Welsh-Hindi Link

Date: 18-Mar-2005
From: Mark Jones <>
Subject: Disc: Re: Media: BBC: Welsh-Hindi Link

The following points have, I think, been there between the lines in 
previous contributions to this discussion, but it is perhaps worthwhile to
articulate them rather more explicitly.

Dr Rajendran is right to urge caution in considering a superficial
similarity between any languages to be evidence for some deeper and more
substantial link. The need for caution is arguably all the greater when the
languages are distantly related, as is the case with Hindi and Welsh, or
when there is some scant evidence for contact between speakers of the
languages involved at some particular point in time.

I suspect that we still know far too little about the diachronic dynamics
of stress and intonation systems to be able to say much about general
patterns of possible historical development. As Briony Williams has pointed
out, however, we are in a rather more fortunate position with Welsh, in
that we have evidence to suggest that the Welsh system is of comparatively
recent origin, i.e. not somehow retained from Proto-Indo-European or some
putative Celto-Indo-Iranian subgroup.

This lack of general data on diachronic developments in stress and
intonation systems means that we also cannot rule out the possibility that
these superficially similar patterns in Hindi and Welsh (and I'm unsure as
to how comparable they really are in terms of a detailed analysis) are
simply parallel developments.

The effects of contact-induced developments are similarly in need of
further extensive research in general, though in this case the chronology
of the Welsh development and patterns of contact do not indicate any such

In the light of the above, and lacking any evidence for contact-induced
changes from one direction or the other, it seems most likely that the
superficial similarity noted for Hindi and Welsh is just that, as other
contributors have indicated.

One final point with reference to Bernard Comrie's remarks (and with all
above caveats in place!) is that I believe there was some Welsh migration
to the north-east of England in the 1900's, possibly earlier, and there is
such a thing as the Teeside Eisteddfod (see link below where it is named):

But I'll leave list members to speculate further...


Mark J. Jones
Department of Linguistics
University of Cambridge

Linguistic Field(s): Genetic Classification
                            Historical Linguistics

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