57 thoughts on “Episode 2: The Indo-European Discovery

    • Totally agree! I’ve only just become aware of these podcasts. Kevin, thank you so much. You’ve opened my mind in such an engaging way.

      Out of curiosity, how do academics in this area regard your podcasts, since you’ve acknowledged your background?

      • Thanks. I’ve only gotten positive feedback from academics that have reached out to me. I am told that some college professors assign some of the episodes to their university students. So as far as I know, it is generally well-regarded.

        • Thanks for the reply, Kevin. I’ve only just started listening to the podcasts, when I drove from Melbourne to Cairns and back to see my daughter. I’m hooked! So I’m now starting again, now that I’m home, with the maps in front of me.
          Really appreciate what you are doing. Thank you and Congratulations!

  1. Hi, one question: if the word for “sky father” exists in Sanskrit (I forgot what it was), which god does it correspond to in Hinduism? Hinduism has very different gods from ancient Greek/Roman religions, so maybe this word comes from the religion of the proto-Indo-European speakers, not from Hinduism?

    • I believe the link from Wikipedia refers to the ancient Vedic religion, which has more naturalistic elements as gods compared with modern Hinduism, and is older than Hinduism

    • Hinduism has the Atman which may be equated with the sky father. I am not a scholar of Hinduism. The many ‘gods’ of Hinduism are avatars. As I understand it, One is too vast a concept for humans to understand. The avatars represent aspects of the One, broken into parts that are digestable. Just a thought.

  2. I’m not sure if I understood you right, but did you say Tuesday is one of our FIVE days of a week? What happened to the other 2?

    • Wait – there are more than five days? 😉 The episode is about five years old, so to be honest, I have no idea what I was referring to. I could have been thinking about the five days of the work week, or the five days that are named after gods. But I probably misspoke while I was improvising part of the episode (which I tended to do in the earlier episodes.)

      • I have learnt quite recently that the Finns name Wednesday as “the middle of the week”. I have known all my adult life that Finnish is nor an Indo European language yet I can hear five of our days of the week in the names they use. Even the word “viko” itself

        • I’m assuming that they acquired the days of the week from their various Germanic neighbors, just by looking at them. That leaves me curious when they acquired them, and what the original days of the week were like in the Finnish language!

          • I think that you’re right; what with about 500 years of Swedish rule in Finland, it seems likely that the Finns adopted the Germanic naming conventions for words related to the week from the Swedes. How the Finns talked about the week before Swedish rule, however, could remain a mystery; no body started writing Finnish down until about 150 years after Swedish rule began.

        • Maybe Estonian, closely related to Finnish, gives a clue:
          Monday – esmaspaev= first day
          Tuesday – teisipaev = second day
          Wednesday – kolmapaev or kesknadal = third day or middle week
          Thursday – neljapaev = fourth day
          Friday – reede – now we are getting into the Norse gods
          Saturday – laupaev = same as Finnish lauaandai
          Sunday – puhapaev = holy day

    • Hi Conor. My version of Chrome will download the files without any problem. I have not received any feedback from any other listeners having a problem with Chrome. My only guess is that it is a problem on your end. Have you tried to download an mp3 from any other sites?

  3. The term ‘Aryan’ was not discarded by Linguists as you state. “Indo-Aryan” is one of the major branches of the Indo-European family.

    • It was once common to refer to the Proto-Indo-European language itself as the “Aryan language,” and that term has definitely fallen out of use in favor of “Indo-European.” You are correct that some linguists still use the term as part of the name of a specific branch called “Indo-Aryan,” but in my experience that term has also been largely replaced with term “Indic” languages. I am curious how many modern linguists still use the term “Indo-Aryan.” Most of my sources just use “Indic.”

      • In Indian subcontinent we use Indo-Aryan label for the descendants of Sanskrit (Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati etc) as against the dravidian languages of Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam.

  4. Kevin, in Episode 3 you talk extensively about the language family tree that’s somewhere on the web site, but I can’t find it. Got a link to that?


    P.S.I just found the podcast and am loving it so far.

  5. Loving this… I also appreciate the explanation of aryan and the 20th century misuse…. I started developing curiosity around languages a few years ago while writing a master’s thesis on sacred energy across theologies. During that bout of studying, I was finding a real link of sanskrit to other languages … and the multitude of links originally found in the Vedas in a passed down oral tradition …. yet eventually showing up in Greek/Roman development of math, physics, etc…. I felt then that there must have been something out of those ancient oral traditions that linked many of the languages …. and I felt like Sanskrit just had to be one of the “originals.” It’s like playing the game “telephone” …. one person says something and whispers to the next and the next and the next …. by the time you get around your circle, there is no resemblance to how it started, but you can go backwards and find out where it changed… Looking forward to this whole series.

  6. Hello. Thank you for this clear, erudite, and compact episode. Jill's comment about the telephone game, takes me back to the 50s, in France, when my first high school prof used it to demonstrate how history can be perverted.

    I would like to add a piece of history relevant to the Indo-Europeans' migration west, and the Greek alphabet.

    Some solid inferences (Gimbutas, Wynn, Merlini, Haarmann) have recently been made about the sweeping away of the matriarchal Vinča (Vintcha) culture in the mid and lower Danube basin. These people practiced agriculture, textiles, and iron work prior to the arrival of the Indo-Europeans in the Balkans. Most relevant to your podcasts was the existence of a form of standardized proto-writing in the Balkans before the development of the Sumerian, Phoenician, and Greek writing systems.

    J. Lambert, author of Termcraft on

  7. Love the podcast, just a note from a linguist.
    Proto-Indo-European technically means a linguistically reconstructed hypothetical ancestor. It is not necessarily what the language actually looked like, just a reconstruction based on today’s Indo-European languages.

  8. Any connection to the name Jesus and the other sky god words? I heard once that the Druids had a “coming savoir” God called esus and when the Romans came to conquer that area they told them esus had come in the east?

    • That would be an interesting connection! But unlikely. The etymological origin of the name Jesus is Semitic (ישוע), that of the sky-gods is Indo-European (*dyeus), and there’s no evidence that they’re related in a Sprachbund sort of way. I think the theory that you’re hinting at is from 18th century Celtic revivalism, whose scholarship wasn’t up to snuff with the rigors of our modern academic standards, for what it’s worth.

    • I think Ryan gave the answer I would have given. ‘Jesus’ has Semitic origins, so it is probably not related to the Indo-European ‘sky god’ words.

  9. My understanding is that while the word is transliterated “pandit” the Sanskrit pronunciation would be closer to “pundit” making the linkage to the current usage in English even more obvious.

    • I think that is correct based on feedback I’ve received from several listeners since producing this episode several years ago.

  10. Nice. Thankyou. While I’m no philologist, the episode just perpetuates the bull about proto-indo-european and Aryan invasion theory.

    But you’ll paint me biased, so that’s neither here nor there.

  11. Not only did the Nazis corrupt the word Aryan, they also corrupted the symbol of divinity and spirituality in Indian religions. Thank you for your work here, I just discovered your website while doing a search for the origins of some words. I have read some of the history of English in short papers but I love how you put context and detail around how we the language has progressed. I am hooked! BTW, I heard 7 days, not 5 🙂

  12. If you are reading this, chances are strong that you have just found The history Of English Podcast, dabbled in parts of a few episodes, and are now overwhelmed by the prospect of wading through 142 episodes (or it might be 345 episodes by this time!) and you are preparing to forgo the pleasure of hours of listening. “I’ll be dead before I get to the end”, is your worried thought.

    Please don’t turn away!

    Start listening today.

    By the time you have listened to the first three podcasts you will have discovered many other resources here besides these Comments pages.

    Kevin does a huge amount of research, as you will find out, and episodes come out roughly one a month.
    It follows that if you listen to only one Episode each week, you will soon catch up to him!

    Then you will be in the position of so many other listeners who have lamented “What will I do now?!!???”.

    Easy! You will do what I am doing – having caught-up, I am starting again at Episode 1, and as any wheat farmer will tell you, each successive ploughing of the paddock digs up that many more mallee roots! I am finding my second-pass of the existing episodes more rewarding than the first, because the foundations that Kevin laid in my mind during my first pass are so strong!

    I almost don’t want Episode 143 to appear, because that will distract me!


    • I agree with you, Chris, that either starting over, or going over past episodes (your idea of “re-ploughing the paddock” — a great image) is well worth it. This podcast is not about “finishing,” it’s about learning and re-learning because there is just so much and all so interesting.

      Thanks, Kevin!

    • In case you are looking for other history podcasts, here is a list of those I’ve listened to the last few years, listed more or less in the order that I discovered them:

      History of Rome by Mike Duncan
      Revolutions by Mike Duncan
      History of Byzantium by Robin Pierson
      History of English by Kevin Stroud
      History of England by David Crowther
      Literature and History by Doug Metzger
      History in the Bible by Garry Stevens
      The Ancient World by Scott Chesworth
      History of Philosophy by Peter Adamson
      History of Egypt by Dominic Perry
      History of Ancient Greece by Ryan Stitt
      Russian Rulers by Mark Schauss
      History of Persia by Trevor Culley
      The Layman’s Historian (History of Carthage) by William Hubbard
      The History of the Papacy by Steve Guerra

      As I have “caught up” with most of the above listed podcasts, I have recently begun to listen to a new group, all of which I recommend without reservation:
      The Siècle (“The Century, France from 1814 – 1914) by David Montgomery
      The Age of Napoleon by E.M. Rummage
      The Industrial Revolutions by Dave Broker
      The History of Italy by Mike Corrodi
      The French History podcast by Gary Girod

      • I would add the British History Podcast into the mix as well. Jamie is well researched and very thorough. His takes are also often quite amusing.

  13. Binge listening to this remarkable podcast after it was recommended in one of the UK’s Saturday papers. This is what early morning dog walks were invented for.

    Thank you for creating such a fascinating listen.

  14. This is an amazing episode! It was very interesting to know how the idea of the Proto-Indo-European came about.
    I also didn’t know about the Aryans!
    You know, for years I have been looking for something to learn about the history of the English language. I’m a philologist myself but I studied Spanish philology at the university. And I always lacked the history of the English language. I bought a textbook that they use when learning the subject at the university but it’s virtually impossible to understand phonetics when there is no one pronouncing this for you.
    Then I found some courses in Open University or such websites but still it wasn’t very convenient because I don’t have so much time as to sit in front of the computer and listen to a lecture.
    And finally – you podcast! The universe heard me ;)))
    Good luck in everything you do!

  15. Kevin,
    I’m super impressed by your podcast. And I’ve been amazed to meet people who happen to have know it and listen to it. “Out of all the zillion podcasts, why this one?” I always ask. Thank you!
    Question: Do you index the podcast? I can’t figure out how to find the episode that discusses the British in India, the bits about “pundit” and Sanskrit legal scholars. That’s just one of many example where I’d want to find my way back to the episode. But out of 100+, which episode was it? Even better, has anyone written episode summaries?
    Thanks- Chris
    Please reply to ctucher@gmail.com

    • Hi Chris. The episode you’re looking for is Episode 2. I don’t have an index, but it is on the ‘to-do’ list. Transcripts of the episodes are currently available through Patreon, but I have plans to incorporate them into this site in the near future.

  16. Thirty plus years of teaching g English prepared me to explore the language in more detail. Thank you for turning the erudite into memorable lessons.

  17. This episode alone is fascinating, rich, and informative, even to someone like me – an old “linguister” (in the sense of a linguist who is not formally educated, and not employed as such).

    And it’s just one episode of what is truly a =magnum opus=. A =kudos= from me, and many =kudoi=! 😉

    – Steve in Toronto

  18. Excellent podcast!
    Alternate rendering of the sentence about the British judges not trusting the Indian pundits’ translation:
    “Coming from a country where European supremacy was a way of life, the judges did not trust the translations by the Indian pundits.”

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