Paulo Rodrigues schrieb:
> OK. You are absolutely right in terms of what happens nowadays. But in
> former times things were often different...
They were, in many regards, but in as many they were not. The question
is, were they different in the specific matter in question, or were they
> I'm not saying that languages and ethnical groups are the same thing
> or that they always spread hand in hand.
Yes, but that is exactly the point: if they did not always spread hand
in hand - and there is quite some evidence that they usually did not -
the idea of ethnicity and language spreading hand in hand should not be
applied to Celtic populations as if it were a prooven fact.
> But, for instance, Bantu languages would have never been spoken in
> Southern Africa if the Bantus had not migrated there.
Would it not? That's something we can't be sure about. The expansion of
languages most often requires some sort of pressure on the population
dropping its old language for a new one, but this pressure need not be a
migration, but might as well be economic, political, or even fashion.
> The same could be said about the Indo-Europeans, Mongols, and so on.
Well, it may be true in case of the Mongols, but regarding the
"Indo-Europeans", we have no idea how - precisely - the indoeuropean
languages spread, except of course for the last 500 or so years of the
language groups latest massive expansion, where they spread through
European colonialism. But regarding the early expansion of the IE
languages, it is totally unclear how they spread. Migration is one of
several possibilities, and if you are interested in my personal opinion,
migration will most likely have played at least some role in the spread
of these languages, but equally likely, there were also a number of
other factors that led to the distribution we see when those languages
start to appear in written records.
> I only mentioned the Berber original complexion to show that they are
> not originally from Northern Africa (I think it was you or Don who
> said they must have come from the Eurasian steppes or Caucasia and you
> were right).
Well, this assumption that because they have a lighter complexion they
can't come from Africa of course is based on a very common
generalisation that "Africa=Black", and that, in general the further
south you go, the "blacker" people will be. Now, while this is true as a
good generalisation, it does not mean that this is necessarily so and
that everyone with a "lighter" complexion than others in his
surroundings must come from "further north". Rather, as complexion is
defined by a number of genes, and as it is therefore subject to
mutation, different complexion patterns can appear and do appear
everywhere on the world. If a mutation is stable enough and the people
having that mutation are successful in passing on that mutation, a much
lighter - or much darker - complexion can be the result in any local
> So, the fact that there is a genetic link between them and the
> Basques doesn't allow people to adopt the old point of view that
> neither the Basques nor the Berbers were from Northern Africa. That
> was my point.
And that point is definitly a good one!
> As for the rest of it, throughout history (especially in former times)
> language and ethnici ty went often hand in hand. That fact is undeniable
Well, no, the fact is absolutely not undeniable. As a matter of fact,
most anthropologists nowadays would deny that fact and rather point to
the fact that ethnicity is a very flexible concept that does depend on
mostly arbitrary markers choosen by different groups of people to
distinguish themselves from others. Language is one of the things that
can be used as such a marker, but it is not necessarily such a marker,
and actually it most often seems not to be the relevant marker.
Throughout recorded history, it seems as if more often than not most
languages were spoken at the same time by a considerable number of
ethnic groups, which often enough were neighbours and often enough
bitter enemies/rivals. Truly bilingual (and multi-lingual) ethnic groups
are rather rare appearances, but even they exist in known history. Thus,
it is not at all a given fact that throughout known history, ethnicity
and language did usually go hand in hand, even that they did often go
hand in hand is very disputeable.
> and just because I mention it that doesn't mean that I agree with some
> silly pro-Aryan theories (I said a few days ago in this list that I
> don't even like that word because I'm not comfortable with its
> political connotations). Just because some nazi-inspired historians
> and anthropologists (in order to advance their political agendas)
> believe that ethnicity and language always spread as one, that doesn't
> mean that we should all go around saying that it never went that way.
No one said that you do agree with such theories. However, you draw on
such theories that were developed by such historians and anthropologists
who also laid the foundation for Nazi ideology. I know that it is hard
not to do this, as this way of thinking of peoples has been very
dominant throughout most of the 20th century, and it is especially hard
to not do so, as there is some evidence that these theories actually are
sometimes correct. But such cases where they actually are correct seems
to be rather the exception to the rule, or at best a generalisation that
usually is not very accurate, and therefor shouldn't be taken as a fact,
but rather as a simplification that is sometimes helpful, but often not.
> Their purpose is wrong but in some cases they are right (especially
> when they speak about the distant past),
No. As a matter of fact, their theories are of greater applicability in
Europe in the time between the 18th and 20th century than they were in
any other time or place in human history, as far as the evidence seems
to tell us. They are not especially right when they are speaking about
the distant past, it is especially in the distant past where these
theories are especially faulty and dangerous, as they tend to create the
image of early "pure" "cultural atoms" that only later "intermixed" and
therefore became "diluted", which can be easily misused for building
political and racial superiority theories, apart from that it doesn't
seem to describe or explain the evidence about prehistoric and early
historic societies in any suitable and adequate way.
> but that doesn't prove (unfortunately for them) that there were "white
> superior" peoples. So I think I'm still allowed to think that people
> of lighter complexion didn't come from Africa without being accused of
> defending nazi points of view in this list. Or am I not?
You are allowed to think whatever you wish, and what you said doesn't
mean that you want to defend or are defending nazi points of views, not
at all. You are, however, drawing - probably without knowing that you do
- on theories that were also used to develop nazi points of view (which
is nothing that's bad in itself, as the nazis did draw on several very
accepted theories that are still very useable today to create their
superiority ideology, like the theory of evolution, which is not
discredited by the fact that the nazis used it to justify atrocities),
of which some since the early 20th century have been shown to be
inaccurate, especially where they are applied to the distant past.
As I said, they way you apply these theories has been very popular in
the academic world throughout the last century and still is very popular
in the public perception of ethnicity, and as such you did nothing other
than basing your assumptions on something that is very much deemed to be
common knowledge, but in the academic disciplines that actually do study
evidence about ethnicity has been abandoned some 25 years ago, as more
thourough and detailed studies have shown that these "old" theories are
at least very inaccurate, if not outright false. As such, you are not
defending nazi points of view, you just base your argumentation on
theories that - for much of modern academia - are no longer valid as
All the best,
Mag.phil. Raimund KARL
Österreich: <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Lektor für kulturwissenschaftliche Keltologie
Univ.Wien, Inst.f.Alte Geschichte, A-1010 Wien, Dr. Karl Lueger Ring 1
Lecturer in Heritage and Archaeology
Department of History and Welsh History, University of Wales Bangor
Ogwen Building, Siliwen Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DG
ffôn: (+44 781) 6464861