set of languages in the far north of India, among which Kashmiri alone is a
major literary language. Then, there are Iranic languages, to which Pashto
and Baluchi in Pakistan belong. The Nuristani languages, spoken in distant
valleys of northwestern Afghanistan and north NWFP, belong neither to the
Indo-Aryan nor to the Iranic branch, and have many archaic features.
Earliest Known Languages The earliest known languages of the Indo-
Aryan and the Iranic families, the Rigvedic and Avestan, were so close that
they easily enable philologists to reconstruct a Proto-Aryan (or ‘Proto-Indo-
Iranian’) language. The use of ‘Aryan’ as a designation of the Indian and
Iranian branches of the Indo-European family is generally accepted; so also
the name ‘Indo-Aryan’ for the Indian branch alone. Such use of the name
‘Aryan’ has no racist connotations; but the designation should not be
extended to the Indo-European family as a whole, or to any of its other
branches. There is, however, no doubt that the Aryan or Indo-Iranian group
of languages belongs to the Indo-European family, as one can see from the
similarities in many words in ordinary usage, like those for father, mother,
daughter, brother, etc.
Restructured Vocabulary Continuous research has not only added a large
number of languages to the Indo-European family, but also established a
sequential order of changes, whereby the older (‘archaic’) forms of words can
be distinguished from the later. From such effort, the purely hypothetical
vocabulary of the ancestral ‘Proto-Indo-European’ language has been
constructed. The restructured vocabulary suggests that those who spoke the
ancestral language, practised pastoralism and plough agriculture, were
familiar with horses, and had copper, gold and silver. On the whole, such
conditions are apparently similar, as established by archaeological finds, to
those of a large part of the grasslands from the Ukraine to eastern Kazakhstan
before 3000 BC. It is quite possible that the Proto-Indo-European was actually
spoken in some part of this land. Hence, attempts made to trace the origin of
Proto-Indo-European to India are not going to succeed.
Interaction between Hittite and Hurrian Languages The earliest
confirmed chronology for the Aryan group of languages, after their branching
off from the parent Indo-European stem, is provided by the great Boghazkui
archives (Turkey), which are mainly in Hittite, itself an old Indo-European