The place of Armenian in the Indo-European language family: the relationship with Greek and Indo-Iranian
Hrach Martirosyan (Leiden University,
Journal of Language Relationship, № 10, 2013 - p.85-138
Abstract: The main purpose of this paper is to present lexical correspondences that unite Armenian with Greek and/or Indo-Iranian. They include shared innovations on the one hand, and isolated lexemes on the other. These two lexical corpora — lexical innovations on an inherited basis and isolated words — can be placed within the same temporal and spatial framework. After the Indo-European dispersal Proto-Armenian would have continued to come into contact with genetically related Indo-European dialects. Simultaneously, it would certainly also have been in contact with neighbouring non-Indo-European languages. A word can be of a substrate origin if it is characterized by: (1) limited geographical distribution; (2) unusual phonology and word formation; (3) characteristic semantics. The material presented here, albeit not exhaustive, allows to preliminarily conclude that Armenian, Greek, (Phrygian) and Indo-Iranian were dialectally close to each other. Within this hypothetical dialect group, Proto-Armenian was situated between Proto-Greek (to the west) and Proto-Indo-Iranian (to the east). The Indo-Iranians then moved eastwards, while the Proto-Armenians and Proto-Greeks remained in a common geographical region for a long period and developed numerous shared innovations. At a later stage, together or independently, they borrowed a large number of words from the Mediterranean / Pontic substrate language(s), mostly cultural and agricultural words, as well as animal and plant designations. On the other hand, Armenian shows a considerable number of lexical correspondences with European branches of the Indo-European language family, a large portion of which too should be explained in terms of substrate rather than Indo-European heritage.
Keywords: Armenian historical linguistics, Armenian etymology, Indo-European comparative linguistics, Indo-Iranian lexicology, Greek lexicology, Mediterranean substrate