First of all, I must say that I realise that this is not exactly a linguistics question so much as it is an anthropological, sociological, or historical question, but I suspect this might be the best site for asking this question.

What I'm really puzzled about is how PIE retained its vocabulary to near-perfection amid the Indo-European expansion, even though the various IE divisions had encountered dozens upon dozens of independent hunter-gatherer (HG) tribes, all of whom likely spoke their own languages, and Early European Farmers (EEF), who also spoke their own languages.

Genetic studies show that the modern European genotype consists of a mixture of Yamnaya, EEF, and HG ancestry; the proportions vary from region to region, but, on average across Indo-European populations, less than half of the ancestry comes from Yamnaya culture nomads.

Therefore, Yamnaya people must have mixed very well with the local populations. Of course, that means they must also have spoken the same language. However, if that is so, here is my question:

How could the local populations and Indo-Europeans (the Yamna) possibly not have formed a creole language?

Of course, neither an economy nor institutions existed, so the local populations could not be forced to learn PIE by the economy, and nor, of course, could the language be deliberately taught in institutions. By what mechanism was this language shift hence driven?

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    It's a mistake to compare languages to genotypes. They don't have anything to do with each other. Every human has one genotype. But it is normal for a human to speak several languages, and for this mix of language use to change during a lifetime. In the US, where it's expected that people should only speak one language, sometimes there is confusion about the reality of language use and learning. So pidgins don't form unless there's no language in common, and that rarely happens.
    – jlawler
    Dec 14, 2019 at 22:02
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    What makes you think "PIE retained its vocabulary to near-perfection"? All IE languages have many words that can't be reconstructed to PIE, and all have lost words that can be reconstructed to PIE based on other languages. For example, in Greek, some very common words like "sea" and "king" seem to have been borrowed from a local non-IE language; the same is true to various extents of the other IE daughter languages.
    – TKR
    Dec 15, 2019 at 3:35
  • @jlawler I think it's a mistake to extrapolate modern trends to pre-history. Of course, many people are multilingual people today (in London, where I lived for a long time, especially so) because it's incredibly easy to learn a language with modern resources and because languages are taught in schools and in many places required by the economy (e.g. you have to speak English to work in London). None of this was the case in 3000 BC. In fact, linguistics is tightly knit with genetics and history, and linguistic evidence is often used for genetic and archaeological research.
    – Max
    Dec 15, 2019 at 7:04
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    I disagree with your assertion that Indigenous tribes today are monolingual. Before contact with the 'west', Indigenous groups in countries such as Australia, Brazil, etc seem to have typically been highly multilingual. This is the situation still in Papua New Guinea. Dec 15, 2019 at 21:23
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    And re creoles, the situations of large-scale contact (between PIE and non-PIE) you're talking about are quite different from those that give rise to creoles (ie starting from a pidgin, as @jlawler says) and usually result in one side learning the others language, but a modified version due to the effect of their previous language (=substrate effects). Dec 15, 2019 at 21:32


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