On the Burushaski-Indo-European hypothesis by I.Casule
John Bengtson (Santa Fe Institute, jdbengt@softhome.net); Václav Blažek (Masaryk University, Brno, blazek@phil.muni.cz)
Journal of Language Relationship, № 6, 2011 - p.25-64
The paper deals with a relatively recent hypothesis, put forward by the scholar I. Čašule, according to which the Burushaski language, traditionally considered an isolate, actually belongs to the Indo-European linguistic stock. The authors approach Čašule’s hypothesis from the comparative side, evaluating phonological, morphological, and lexical arguments in its favour side by side with the corresponding arguments in favour of the Dene-Caucasian hypothesis, according to which Burushaski forms a separate one-language branch of the vast macrofamily that also includes Na-Dene, Sino-Tibetan, North Caucasian, Basque, and Yeniseian languages. It is concluded that arguments for the Dene-Caucasian status of Burushaski quantitatively override the Indo-European-Burushaski hypothesis by a very large margin; suggested Indo-European connections are either highly unsystematic (when it comes to phonetic correspondences), sporadic and insufficient (in morphology), or practically non-existent (in basic lexicon). Consequently, all of the resemblances between Indo-European and Burushaski must be ascribed to (a) recent contacts between Burushaski and Indo-Aryan languages, (b) chance resemblances, or (c) in a very small number of cases, traces of «ultra-deep» relationship that do not represent exclusively «Indo-European-Burushaski» connections.
Keywords: Indo-European linguistics, Burushaski language, macrocomparative linguistics, Dene-Caucasian hypothesis, language isolates